Photo: AP
Photo: AP

The poseur’s guide to the Olympics

Another Olympics is upon us. And another chance to fake your sporting knowledge at the office. Mint On Sunday is at hand to help

Who doesn’t love the Olympics? How can you not be swept away by the pageantry, the spectacle, the jingoism, the nations in the parade that seem made up, the gamesmanship, the crass commercialization, the drugs and the ruination of public finances!

The problem is... there is just so much of it. And much of it, let us be frank, a little bit strange. I mean, what is handball? Who is BMX? Where is eventing? Why is rugby? How is taekwondo?

Now, you can either think of this as a problem—and avoid engaging with the Olympics too much—or you can embrace this golden opportunity to finally get a chance to shine at the office or home or school or yoga class or judicial custody! You see, nobody really understands the complete Olympics, except maybe David Wallechinsky, who has, quite literally, written the book on the mega-mother-of-all-sporting-events.

Thus, leverage this Mint On Sunday cheat sheet and fake your Olympics knowledge. In no time, you will be making up for all those times you sat glumly while unbearable colleagues waxed eloquent about GST, Article 50, bitcoin, Pikachu and quinoa. Carefully read this list of topics and talking points and commit them to memory. And then unleash with restraint.

Opening ceremony: “Oh, it is such a pity they are playing the instrumental version of the Olympics anthem. Every time I hear Kostis Palamas’s lyrics in the original Greek, I get goosebumps of emotion everywhere on my body except one or two places."

Parade of nations: “Ha ha. Parade of nations it seems. More like parade of passports. I mean look at the three guys in the UAE’s judo team: Victor Scvortov, Sergiu Toma and Ivan Remarenco. I suppose, they are from the UAE-Moldovan border region. LOL."

Stadium: “Man. I can’t believe the Brazilians still went for the Maracana. The stadium is just all kinds of bad luck for them. First, they lost the 1950 World Cup final in it. And then in 2014, they didn’t even get to play in it because the Germans dry-cleaned them 7-1. What is Portuguese for ‘Your vastu is swaha’?"

Diving: “Yaar... without the 1m springboard, what is the point? Now, that is a real competition for diving enthusiasts. A real test. The Commonwealth Games has it, but not the Olympics. Maniacs."

Walking: “I think Irfan has a chance. The real question is can he avoid lifting too many times and get inside 1:19 or so? Boy has potential... what do you mean you have no idea who Irfan is? Boss, don’t they discuss race-walking at the All India Institute For Useless Political Opinion That Nobody Cares About that you go to every evening?"

Canoeing: “The hardest part for me is deciding which event to sit up and watch at night. I mean K-1 and C-1 sprinting is just exhilarating. But can anything on water match the C-2 slalom? God, why do I love rowing sports so much!"

Equestrian: “Ten more minutes for the dressage to start. So, a little trivia to kindle the mood. Did you know that in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, the equestrian events were held in Stockholm? Apparently because of strict Australian quarantine rules about letting foreign animals. Oddly enough, Cambodia sent two riders to Stockholm, but no athletes to Melbourne. Weird right? OH LOOK, IT IS STARTING!"

Fencing: “I really hope Tanya, Ursula and Paola win the women’s team sabre for Mexico. Just to see Trump’s face when Mexico beat the US at fencing, AM I RITE??!!"

Modern pentathlon: “Boss, interbank lending rate volatility and all is OK, you tell me which events are there in pentathlon. Go on. Try, yaar. Long jump, discus, javelin, running? Boss, you are absolutely correct. But only if this is ancient Greece. Am I wearing full-body lungi? No. So, this is not Greece. This is the modern pentathlon. That is show jumping, shooting, swimming, running and fencing. It is a bit weird. But apparently supposed to be the five things soldiers are supposed to be good at."

Medals table: “I always like to keep an eye out for Suriname, you know. Just in case they are able to produce another Anthony Nesty. Never heard of Nesty? Sit down boss. This is a great story..."

Closing ceremony: “You know, this whole closing ceremony brings tears to my eyes. Just wonderful to see these human beings mingling like this so happily. You have to thank John Ian Wing for that. Oh, Google him up. Also, while you are at it, Google up Sam Sullivan at the closing ceremony of the Turin Winter Games. Come, let us cry tears of happiness together."

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