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LITTLE AND LARGE

Photos: When the shortest Olympians meet the tallest, magic happens

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AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell
The right size.
Published This article is more than 2 years old.

Needless to say, a lot has changed about the Olympics since ancient times. Although some feats have stood the test of time—American swimmer Michael Phelps only just beat the 2,000-year-old record held by Leonidas of Rhodes for individual Olympic victories—for the most part, the competition today is unrecognizable from just a few decades ago, to say nothing of centuries or millennia in the past.

The biggest change is to the athletes themselves. There is an ideal body size and shape for many sports, and greater specialization has favored athletes at the extremes. Medal-winning female gymnasts have been steadily shrinking; dominant American dynamo Simone Biles, who won two golds in Rio, stands at just 4’8” (1.42m).

Gymnasts, and Biles in particular, have been taking photos behind the scenes at Rio with towering basketball players, volleyballers, and swimmers, highlighting how Olympic champions come in all shapes and sizes:

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