Alternative Olympic Disciplines

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

It occurs that there are a few unofficial Olympic disciplines I perhaps ought to try in the next four years if I am to truly enter into the spirit of experiencing the full Olympic spectrum.

1. Getting the Olympic rings tattooed on my upper arm
These days, it seems, you aren’t fully part of your country’s Olympic team until you have had yourself branded in this fashion. I first noticed it going on in Sydney in 2000, but I’ve since seen the odd multiple Olympian bearing the marks of all the games in which they have taken part.

2. Being interviewed by an inarticulate former athlete about how I’m feeling
This interview must take place at least a week before I compete in the event to which it relates and must contain endless platitudes and baseless speculation about my chances of getting a gold medal.

3. Providing a sample for a drugs test
From what I’ve read, the process itself is a lot more complicated than the rules of some of the sports. Also, I have nothing but admiration for anyone who can “perform” in front of such a closely watching audience.

4. Providing a ridiculous excuse for missing a drugs test
History is full of many excuses from which to choose (although it offers few that actually worked). The real challenge would be to come up with something truly original. The dog ate my test tube… and my sample ran in the rain on the way to the testing facility… after I fell off my motor scooter… that was being driven by the dog.

5. Performing a lap of honour
No longer a woolly tradition designed to acknowledge the support of the crowd, the lap of honour is in danger of becoming an event in its own right. Points will be awarded for the number of flags carried, babies kissed and photographs posed for, with the total being multiplied by the overall time achieved (the longer the better, obviously). Special bonus points can be gleaned for congratulating other athletes who are receiving medals on the podium as you pass.

6. Lodging a protest at the end of the event and gaining a better medal as a result
In Athens, the lawyers had as much to do with the outcome of some events as the athletes. It must be bizarre to receive one’s gold medal in the post along with a stamped, addressed envelope and a note beseeching you to forward the silver to the current holder of the bronze. It’s like one of those chain letters that never works.

7. Shedding a tear at a medal ceremony
I suspect few people remember the final race of the coxed pair in 1992 when Gary Herbert coxed the Searle brothers to victory in Barcelona, but more will remember his reaction at the medal ceremony. Bless him.