Today I would like to talk about speed skating. Not only because the Dutch are amazingly good at it, but also because I like to speed skate a bit myself. I have even entered a few races, with proper skates, and a tight suit. Having a memory like mine requires careful documentation, though, because when I see a picture of myself on skates it is hard to tell at which race it was taken, or which personal record I was trying to crush. So I solved it by making a spreadsheet to keep track of the dates, the personal records, and the pictures of those memorable races.
After our Dutch speed skating champions returned from the Sochi Winter Olympics, I started thinking about how they would deal with this problem: How to remember a race? Is winning the answer? Do they remember a race better if they won? Or do they remember it better when they almost won, but finished in second place? And races where they made a terrible mistake, will those be remembered?
But there are other ways to specifically cue the sporting memory: in my Career-On-Ice I have changed my outfit often enough to distinguish between races: usually it holds that a faster looking suit matches a better Personal Record. Can that be one of the reasons sports teams change their outfit every year?
I bet the best cue for remembering an achievement is a medal. Look how happy they are! These tangible, generative memory cues will make sure that, for example, Sven Kramer remembers not only those 6:10,76 minutes of his 5000M race, but also the rest of his Olympic adventure. A picture says more than a thousand words, but for cuing your memory I think nothing beats a piece of well-deserved gold.
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