PICK: LATVIAN BMX RIDER, MARIS STROMBERGS
Many a defending gold medallist has fallen short in these London Games - don’t count Latvian BMX ace, Maris Strombergs, amongst the vanquished. In the mad mania that went down - and we mean went down - at the VeloPark, the man they call ‘The Machine’ clicked into gear, stealing a break on the field at the first turn and holding off the desperate sniping of world champ, Aussie Sam Willoughby. When Strombergs crossed the line, it was a far cry - literally - from when he began: “I was 5-years-old when my father took me to the BMX track and when I saw all those big guys jumping those big doubles, I started crying. I said ‘No way dad’. But after another month I said to my dad, ‘OK, I’ll go again’ and that’s how I started.”
FLICK: FOURTH PLACE IN THE 10K SWIM
Fourth place blows in any Olympic event, but there is a special Hell reserved for the poor bastard finishing off the podium in the 10K swim. Dubbed “wrestling in the water”, the 10K features no lanes and takes no prisoners; argy-bargy is inevitable and physical damage is the norm rather than the exception. Then there is the medium itself: What other event asks you to propel yourself through a chundery slick of duck shit and seaweed for an extended period (rhythmic gymnastics is comparable, but more so for spectators than competitors)? Not surprisingly, course descriptors of the Serpentine loop only mention its idyllic location in the middle of Hyde Park, its proximity to Buckingham Palace, its accessibility for tens of thousands of fans and a worldwide TV audience…Not a sniff of the poop soup that clogs every pore for a couple of hours.
Seriously, just give all of these masochistic flailers a medal. The ‘Participation’ ribbon doesn’t cut it.