Life is a Rabbit Pellet

Ramblings of a Zimbrindian's travels, life, and research.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


I'm still celebrating Kirsty Coventry's victory in the 200m backstroke. I mean, three silvers is amazing, but a gold is... just a wee bit nicer, you know?

And it places Zimbabwe in the top half of the medal table. As I type this, we're 20th, ahead of Holland and Canada. For now.

Remember, before Kirsty, our only Olympic medal was in 1980, for women's hockey. No Zimbabwean male has yet won an Olympic medal.

Hmmm... let me see, that diver guy, Evan Stewart, came to mind.... time to search a bit online... ah, he has no Wikipedia entry (and therefore does not exist, even if he did get a gold or silver at the diving world championships at some point). But the pages on Zimbabwean performances at the Olympics show that he never reached a final. My searching also suggests that he now owns an import-export business back in Zim.

Right, enough of a pre-Kirsty Zimbabwe.

It's unlikely that the gold medal - her second - will lead the former Dominican Convent lass to millions of dollars in sponsorship deals, of course, in a market as small and shrinking as Zimbabwe's. But you have to admit, Zimbabwe (aka Coventryland) has the highest ratio of medals (gold or overall) to GDP (the biggest predictor of medal success) in the world.

Last time I heard, Jamaica's economy was ten times larger than Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe. Mai-wee! Future Zimbabwean history books will hold Thabo Mbeki with scorn, viewing him with the same amount of respect generally accorded by British textbooks to Neville Chamberlein.

Let's return to the Olympics.

And silver medals. Milorad Cavic has been getting some flack by the media of late, who have decided to cast him as a villain against Michael Phelps' heroic status. Cavic is the Serbian Californian who Phelps pipped out by 0.01 seconds for his seventh gold. Something about Cavic's people wanting the photo finish rechecked. That's ridiculous - in any close race, the result should always be rechecked. Anyway, see Cavic's blog. His attitude leaves me quite impressed, though his miniscule font size does not.

When I was a kid, I was a big fan of The Games. They were larger than life, and I read lots and lots of books about Olympic heroes. Now I don't care so much.


I'm not a kid any more (ignore the peanut gallery there), there are a lot more sources of entertainment clamouring for attention, or just plain ol' tempus fugit.

But maybe it's something else. Maybe it's the appreciation that Olympic gold medallists aren't superheroes. They're human. And gold is just a colour.

When I was young, I thought silver was the colour of failure, that the thousands of athletes who just compete in the Olympics and failed to get a medal were failures.

Boy, was I wrong.

Every single Olympic athlete (shooters excepted, maybe) is fitter than me. Everyone who makes a final is a hundred times fitter than I'll ever be. Some of them get medals. Some get bronze, some get silver, some get gold. That's irrelevant. The point is, I am in a place now - socioeconomicageographically - where I can meet an Olympic athlete. And they're human, and better humans than I am.

But that's the point - they are human, and not some alien species.

So I've lost the sense of awe I had for the Olympics, but I do have a better grasp of the humanity of its participants.

I'm still having trouble watching the gymnastics though. It's very painful. I seem to be preparing to wince all the time, since they seem so perilously close to falling. Now, beach volleyball (either gender), now, there's a sport that's pretty darn amazing.

More reasons to celebrate: my cultural home's done good :) Britain picked up nine medals in the last 24 hours. Oops, almost said England there. But Chris Hoy (a.k.a. Lord Wheelie) is a Scotty.

And my favourite tennis player - Roger Federer - won gold in doubles. And he was so happy about it! I think he would have been celebrating as much even if he hadn't had an annus horribilis, too.

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