The Oy-limpics

I watched this year’s Olympics with much fascination. I feel like I was more hooked on it this year than ever before. Perhaps it’s because I tend to take delight in the little curiosities of life, and the Olympics really do provide plenty of those in every arena.

First off there were the crazily apt names, a phenomenon I’ve briefly touched on here before. A double-double world champion sprinter named Bolt, a Mr Michael Arms rowed for New Zealand, a Ning Ding played Ping Pong for China (I can’t help wishing her name was Ning Pong) and Bulgarian, Vania Stambolova, who tripped in the400m hurdles.
But it wasn’t just the mad names that had me hooked, some of the sports got me thinking too. Well, first laughing and then thinking. It was odd to discover that trampolining is an actual Olympic sport. I mean it looks hard enough and all, but it’s just not something you immediately consider as really competitive. It’s certainly no javelin or long jump. Maybe it’s odd because at its core, jumping on a trampoline is such a childlike thing to do. A bit like skipping, or hop scotch. You wouldn’t expect to see either of those at the Olympics, would you?
Around half way through the games I started wondering who actually decides which sports make it all the way to the Olympics? Because as far as I’m concerned, their selection has some holes in it. For instance, hockey is an Olympic sport, and so are soccer, and basketball, but there’s no baseball, rugby or cricket. Surely that’s sportist? And there’s Olympic trampolining and BMXing, but no Olympic Tiddleywinks or roller skating. It doesn’t seem fair.
In the pool there’s swimming, diving, synchronised swimming and water polo, but no bollemekiesies. Howcome? There’s also backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and crawl, but no doggy paddle. I object your honour!
According to my friends over at Wiki, the IOC decides which sports are deemed worthy of being Olympic, based on how widely practiced the sport is around the world. Basically if enough people in enough countries do it, then the IOC can consider voting it in.
Well, if that’s the case, then there’s no reason underarm farting shouldn’t be included. Boys everywhere have been doing that competitively for centuries.
The first Olympic Games in 1896 contained 9 sports and they’ve been dropping and picking up new ones ever since. This year there were a total of 26 sports and they’re adding two new ones to the list (golf and rugby) for Rio in 2016. Tug of War was an official Olympic sport, believe it or not, until it was discontinued in 1920 due to lack of interest. Seems a shame really, what’s not interesting about Tug of War? At least the rules would be easier to understand than wrestling.
I think for the next Olympic Games the public should be allowed to vote for other new sports to be allowed in, just to make things even more exciting. How about a backwards race? Hey, it’s no more bizarre than another official sport that stood out for me this year, the walking race. Possibly the most oxymoronic event known to mankind?
I don’t mind what sports they decide to include for future games, on condition they continue to amaze, unite and inspire. And as long as they keep the athletes names a little on the crazy side, like the trampolining gold medallist, named Dong Dong. I wonder if that’s the Asian version of our Scot Scott?

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