At a time when party lines are toed so deeply as to create ideological trenches in the United States, President Barack Obama might have found a unifying force to bring all Americans together: A hatred of Russia. Between remnants of Cold War hysteria and a lack of social progress in the land of a former enemy, Republicans and Democrats, rarely alike, both have reasons to despise the hosts of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.
And so, it’s without much consternation from either side of the political spectrum that the White House announced its delegation to the Sochi Olympics wouldn’t include a President, First Lady, Vice President or even an acting cabinet secretary. Instead it will be comprised of two openly gay delegates: tennis legend Billie Jean King at the Opening Ceremonies, and two-time Olympic medalist in ice hockey, Caitlin Cahow, at the Closing Ceremonies.
A statement from the White House coyly suggested that the President believes the delegation “will showcase to the world the best of America – diversity, determination and teamwork.” In case that was too subtle, the statement repeated that this delegation “represents the diversity that is the United States.” The only way the statement could have been more implicative would be if the statement was read by Ellen Degeneres while holding rainbow flags.
Why is the United States going through all this trouble to say something, while not really saying anything?
Mo Farah won two Olympic track and field gold medals last summer in the 5,000 metres and 10,000 metres. He also happens to be the current European and World champion at the shorter distance. For two years straight, Farah has been named the European Athlete of the Year, and at the end of 2012, he was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to athletics. After finding so much success at these distances, Farah is looking for new challenges, attempting to move up to competitive marathons.
For most intents, and likely even more purposes, he’s a pretty big deal. So, when WDSU anchor LaTonya Norton, out of New Orleans, asked the European, World and Olympic champion runner, “Haven’t you run before? This isn’t your first time?” he probably had a case for feeling somewhat slighted. Consider that the runner had just won a half-marathon by completing the course in just over an hour, and you could likely forgive Farah for walking away from the interview or adopting a more condescending tone with the television personality.
However, if Farah is a great runner, his patience and humility make him an even greater person. Instead of reacting negatively to the television presenter’s lack of awareness, he politely completed the awkward interview despite it most likely being a complete and utter waste of his time.
As for Norton, I realize not every newscaster is Will McAvoy, but the most perfunctory of internet searches by her or her team would’ve revealed Farah’s status, and saved the anchor from what is turning into international embarrassment.
On Thursday, Olympic inspiration and Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius was charged with the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, a popular South African model and actress. According to police she was shot four times in the early hours of the morning inside the sprinter’s home, in a gated community in Pretoria.
Despite earlier reports suggesting that Pistorious, who is known as Blade Runner for his high-tech artificial legs, mistook Steenkamp for a burglar, police do not believe the shooting to be accidental based on witnesses interviewed at the scene of the early morning shootout and ”past allegations of a domestic nature.”
To truly understand the lunacy behind the International Olympic Committee’s recently announced decision to drop wrestling from the Olympic program for the 2020 Games, one need only learn of the events that comprise the modern pentathlon, a sport that was deemed more worthy of continuance.
200 metre freestyle swimming;
Show jumping; and
Three kilometre cross-country run.
The competition is referred to as the modern pentathlon as a means of differentiating itself from the original pentathlon of the ancient Olympic Games. The events of the unlikely forefather were much different than those contested as part of today’s pentathlon.
180 metre dash;
Yes, wrestling, in a certain sense, helped beget a bastardized competition that is now an Olympic sport while it is not. However, the IOC wasn’t attempting to make a literary reference with this almost appropriately Oedipal turn of events.