the unseen olympics

Amazingly the Olympics are made up of more than Americans and the 100 yard dash and swimming. In fact it includes the pommel horse <which does not participate in the Grand National Steeplechase>, the shuttle cock <not a farm animal>, foot & hand ball <which is actually adult versions of kick ball and dodgeball> and butterflies <albeit they are the odd breed that actually swim>.


There are going to be some sports you won’t see a whole shitload of unless you have the full sports package on cable and get ESPN 5 thru 12 channels. Although … the non-scored event of “what is the most inappropriate flag to be displayed when a country is introduced” will be covered by every news network ad nausea <by the way … my two votes are for displaying the Israeli flag when Iranians are introduced and showing the Russian flag every time one of the past Soviet countries are introduced – Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, etc. – although the South Korea for North Korea was an excellent initial play>. Anyway.

Therefore it has become my responsibility to make you aware of some f the more random Olympic events.

The “who is wackiest country fan base” competition

You won’t see it on tv because it happens in living rooms globally. We will all tune in to watch some extraordinary athlete do something unhuman and inevitably the camera will scan the crowd for the one nutjob who is cheering on their only country’s athlete dressed as Chewbacca (in that country’s colors), McLovin (in that country’s colors) or some medieval costumed character (in that country’s colors).

The star? The dutch are consistently featured.

Please don’t hit my shuttle cock.

Answer: What is Badminton.

86 men and 86 women compete in singles, doubles and mixed doubles. Matches are the best of three, players trying to reach 21 points and win by two. Surprisingly it is an awful like volleyball in that competitors often aim at the ground or at each other’s heads … all at a frantic pace and the shuttlecock can actually reach 200mph. yes. I just typed 200mph. ouch. That would sting.

Just to be clear. This is not the game we play while drinking frou frou cocktails in some posh well-manicured backyard.

The star? China dominates.

No. This is not a 3 Musketeers marathon.

It is Fencing

Swashbucklers in 10 medal events smack each other around with foils, épées and sabres.

Individual bouts involve three periods of three minutes each – or until one fencer scores 15 hits.

Full of swagger. What it is not Playground sword fighting. Fencing is crammed full of rules, infringements and jargon. Best to know your piste from your riposte before setting off.

The star? Errol Flynn. Oh. He is dead. South Korea and Italy.

Soccer using hands instead of feet.

Hence there is an Olympic event called Handball. It is angry lacrosse without the sticks. Okay. It is actually water polo without the water.

168 men and 168 women will compete. Teams of seven pass, bounce and throw the ball at goal using any body part above the knee. Players can hold the ball for up to three seconds and take up to three steps. Matches consist of two 30-minute halves. The game is fast, relatively easy to follow <as with any of these sports … soccer, ice hockey, lacrosse … there are some random rules that seemingly stop the match for only a reason the referee knows> and it is surprisingly physically confrontational.

The star? Norway for women. France for men.

What are those things that float with sails <and no kegs in the back>?

The event is called “sailing.”

There are 10 medal events, six for men and four for women, with 380 competitors and a range of vessels including the Minnow. Points are awarded based on where you finish not on your sailing skill <therefore Gilligan has a chance>.

Don’t even try and understand the rules. Basically there is some shit you can do with the sails and some you cannot.

Britain has finished first in the last three Olympics.

The star? Someone called “The Skipper.”

Wow. That looks like a beach outside that pub!

Yes. Beach volleyball is still an Olympic sport. Yeah, yeah, yeah … I know it is a serious sport <played in bikinis> but I still struggle to see it as an Olympics sport. Regardless. The big news is the wild card team is Ginger & Mary Ann who get to play because Skipper brought them along as part of the crew of the mighty Minnow <they are longshots>.

There are 48 teams playing on wet London sand. The aim is to land the ball in the opponents’ half in that very wet sand. Oh. And drink beach-like cocktails.

The star? USA and Brazil.

Wow. That looks like a dirt pit outside that pub!

Yes. BMX cycling is an Olympics sport. Yes. I still struggle to understand why. Regardless. This is not your neighborhood kids pulling wheelies on their Big Wheels.

On a purpose-built 400m course in the north of the park 32 men and 16 women will do limb-snapping, gymnastic moves on bikes floor exercise agility maneuvers all over steep dirt mountains. This will also be the only location on the Olympic grounds where you can buy some quality weed.

The star? Latvian Maris Stromberg, Frenchman Joris Daudet and Australia’s Sam Willoughby.

I thought they didn’t allow people to have guns in Britain?

Well. They do because there is an event called “Shooting.”

Now. This ain’t like the winter Olympics biathlon <crazy people skiing and then stopping to try and not shoot anyone in the crowd as they gasp for breath> but rather targets are stationary in the pistol and rifle events, but are on the move in the shotgun so it is a little easier. Ok. Even as I type that I cannot see how this is a real sport. A competition amongst Soprano fans? Sure. Olympic event? Not so sure.

Anyway. Basically this is nap time. It moves at a pachyderm like pace although takes a steel like mind that can calculate more angles than Pythagoras. Oh. It involves a lot of lying down … just not with anyone and not in a bed.

The star? A Brit. World No1 Peter Wilson.

Hey! Those guys are kickin each other!

Yup. Taekwondo is an Olympic event.

eight medal events – four weight categories for men, four for women. Points come from kicking and punching your opponent <apparently the body gets broken into ‘scoring zones’ … for example … smacking someone with a turning head-kick is worth four points … smacking someone on the ass in warm-ups gets you nothing but some funny looks>.

Contests are in three two-minute rounds. There are lots of rules and rules are really strict <please do not ask me for examples>.

Trivia? A serious mistake gets what is called a Gam-Jeom <one-point penalty>.

The sport is not for anyone who should be in anger management because while you do get to literally, and figuratively, kick the shit out of someone you only get points for controlled aggression.

The star? Anyone from South Korea. They got half the medals in last Olympics.

Yup. That is a trampoline. Nope. That is not your backyard.

Yup. There is a Trampoline Olympic event.

32 gymnasts will bounce it out in an event which has been in the Games only since 2000. There are 10 skill routines, with 11 judges marking them on difficulty, timing and execution. All judges are under the age of 15 and also excel at swing set swinging and monkey bar monkeying.

Scoring will end up being even more random than a eastern European ice dancing event and it is full of some more-than-excellent jargon.  watch out for a graceful fliffus (a double somersault with at least a half-twist). A triffus is a triple <awesome>.

Be aware. You will never be able to spot the faults/demerit activity unless someone completely falls off the trampoline.

The star? Apparently Canada has some trampoline A-listers, eh?

Whoa. Those men are covered in olive oil.

Ok. It is Greco-Roman Wrestling.

There are 18 Greco-Roman events for men only in seven weight categories, and in the freestyle seven categories for men and four for women.

Be forewarned. Lots of sweaty spandex. But at least they aren’t rolling around sweating on each other a lot because Greco-Roman wrestling involves using only upper bodies and arms. The aim is to force the back of the opponent’s shoulders on to the mat, with points awarded for throws and holds. It is not pretty by any definition nor artistic but let’s hope these dudes don’t mistakenly walk in at the Badminton after party.

The star? Anyone with a Russian name. Russians won 21 golds in the last four Games.


Hope that helps.

Enjoy this year’s Olympics.

Written by Bruce