ATHLETES KEEPING THEIR MINDS SHARP

Track 1june12For an activity that is often erroneously regarded as gambling, poker appears regularly in popular culture, whether it’s a televised game broadcast around the world, or in the parallels it has with other sports and endeavours that tap in to the same qualities required to succeed.

Jamie Kimber is one such example. The British fencer, who is likely to compete at the Olympic Games in London this summer, has spoken of how he not only plays online poker for fun in his spare time but also sees parallels between the Mind Sport and his performance on the fencing piste.

For Kimber, 25, poker serves as more than just an additional competitive outlet.

“There are comparisons,” Kimber told the BBC earlier this year. “In fencing someone might show you something and you don’t know whether they’re actually going to go through with it or if it’s just an early bluff. That happens in poker as well. And if you think people are doing things for the wrong reasons you can end up losing. It’s no coincidence that I enjoy both of them.”

Kimber is not alone as a sportsman turning to poker to feed their competitive spirit, although for others poker becomes something they play once their first career comes to an end.

Boris Becker is perhaps most notable, the former Wimbledon champion swapping rain delay games in the dressing room for major poker tournaments around the world. Former international footballers Teddy Sheringham and Poli Rincon have appeared in similar fashion, as has former Dutch field hockey Olympic gold medallist Fatima Moreira de Melo. Each has turned to poker as a way of satisfying their competitive instincts.

It seems while the body may eventually give way to athletic demands the mind remains sharp and eager for competition as it ever was.
Studies, such as that produced by The Franklin Institute, continue to show how continued mental stimulation can protect against cognitive decline and that the more the brain is used for mental exercise, the longer it will remain healthy.

Poker is reckless gambling? You could argue that in some cases it would seem more straightforward to play.

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