Monday, October 22, 2007

Sporting buffoonery

Last week's whole Stauntongate affair - as in, there's the gate Stan, don't let it hit your arse on the way out - got me thinking about other hapless sportsmen whose rank lack of talent and sheer unsuitability for their role have endeared them to us all forever. Which isn't to say Stan has exactly endeared himself to us yet but in the fullness of time we shall look back and laugh. No, really.

Remember Eddie the Eagle Edwards? He was the ski-jumper who wore preposterously huge glasses like Su Pollard, had a chin like Jimmy Hill and possessed the sporting prowess of a sloth with bronchitis, yet somehow found fame as a ski jumper at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Canada. I was only a nipper at the time but was instantly fascinated as this gurning galoot hurled himself towards possible death on a daily basis, against a backdrop of universal ridicule, and finished last every time. I mean for Jasus' sake, out of all the sports out there that he could have been shit at, and there truly must have been many, did he have to pick one where finishing in a heap of mangled bones was a real possibility? Anyway, I checked up on Eddie and he's a plasterer now, and perhaps only occasionally takes mad notions and jumps off his step ladder when there's nobody around. In any case, he's only gone and sold the movie rights to his story and Steve (Alan Partridge) Coogan is set to star as him. This comes on top of his autobiography and other cash from after dinner and 'motivational' speaking, something Stan might hopefully never contemplate, ever. So while Eddie might be daft, he's not stupid.

Then there was Eric the Eel Moussambani. The Equatorial Guinea swimmer managed to get into the 2000 Sydney Olympics and in a three-man heat, somehow qualified for the 100m final - because the other two competitors were disqualified for false starts. The eel inched home in excruciating but hilarious fashion in a time that was actually outside the 200m record it was so slow, but sure he was absolute complete and utter shite, and so everyone loved him. Swimming professionally isn't easy I know, but poor Eric seemed to have trouble with the mere fundamentals like er, floating, moving and probably, breathing. A lifeguard had to stand by as he finished his race, in case the poor fecker drowned. It later emerged he'd only been swimming for 8 months, training in a crocodile-infested river near his home. I shit you not. He later got his times down to respectable levels, but didn't make the next Olympics because of a visa wrangle. Awwww.

Trevor the Tortoise anyone? This one's a cracker. Trevor Misipeka was a 22-stone Samoan (that's him in the pic) who had entered the shot-putt at the 2003 World Athletics Championships. Some fiddledly rule change or other meant he couldn't participate in his chosen event and so, with nothing else to do, he entered the 100m instead. Shot-putt and sprinting? Hardly the closest of bedfellows - it'd be like entering a dressage horse in the synchronised swimming. Anyway, the bould Trevor lumbered his way through the heat in a time of 14.28 and went on to enjoy his 15 minutes of. I think he went on to be an American footballer.

There's more you know. It's almost de rigeur these days to be from a warm country and enter a bob sleigh team, but Jamaica did it first as celebrated in the film Cool Runnings. Sure we've even been at it ourselves, with Galway-born Clifton Wrottersley finishing fourth in the men's skeleton, despite sounding like a posh bully from the Beano comics.
And Armenia had a two-man bobsled team in 2002, despite having to do most of their training in sunny California. In fact, so ill-equipped were the entrants that the first time they did a proper bob-sledding run on a real track, the g-forces sucked the air out of their lungs and the poor bastards hyper ventilated. Good Lord.

So, all is not lost for Stan yet. If he embraces his newfound status as some sort of bungling panto villain, he could turn a few more quid if nothing else.

9 moos and woofs:

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