Forked tongues and smiling lips at the OlympicsBy Percy D. Della
Philippine Daily Inquirer
SACRAMENTO—Ranged against the world’s best, Mark Anthony Barriga, a whirlwind of a fighter from Panabo, near Davao City, is making inroads. He zapped his taller Italian foe to barge into the round of 16 in the light flyweight category of the Olympic boxing matches.
Although Barriga qualified for London via the backdoor at the world championship in Azerbaijan earlier this year, he earned his spurs through various international meets.
Contrary to the hope of President Aquino, who seems to care less about sports as a bridge for nation building, surprises have no place at the Games.
Selection by wild card and last minute training won’t cut it.
As the commercial for a telecommunications company says, you can’t wish yourself into the podium. You can’t buy that chance, either. It is not enough to dream about it. You have to work for it.
With our athletes turning into tourists after bowing to vastly superior rivals, our London delegation honchos are eating crow.
Before flying to London, they declared with a straight face that with luck, all members of the lean Philippine team are medal contenders.
These officials, who just can’t tell the truth, remind us of the cowboys and cavalry men in those classic Westerns of old.
As a Native American would intone in those movies: Red men speak the truth. White men speak with forked tongues.
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At London’s Heathrow Airport where he witnessed the trademark stiff British upper lip curl into a smile—the eminent sports writer Bill Dwyre declared in the Los Angeles Times:
“Warm and fuzzy feels funny. You brace for a hooligan and you get a teddy bear. It’s like New York becoming Nashville overnight.”
Self-restraint has always been part of Great Britain’s cultural DNA.
But in time for the Olympic Games that the empire is currently hosting, that stiff upper lip the Brits are known for to suppress emotion in times of adversity or fortune has evaporated in London’s summer drizzles and notoriously fickle weather.
The airport scene described by Dwyre in which affable London Olympics volunteers “in orange and purple slobbered” with a helping hand over arrivals, is opt to be repeated at the Games venues as the British live with a 17-day world invasion that passes as athletic competition.
Even the legendary British decorum is taking a backseat to the vibes of the Olympics.
Her Majesty, the Queen, allowed herself via a double to arrive at the Olympic Stadium by jumping on a parachute with James Bond in Danny Boyle’s tumultuously inventive opening ceremony.
And London’s most iconic places have swung their doors wide for the Olympics.
Scantily clad women are spiking in the middle of the Horse Guards Parade transformed into the Games’ beach volleyball court. The hallowed parade ground takes its name from the horse soldiers who have provided protection for English monarchs at Buckingham Palace since 1660.
Equestrian’s dressage and jumping events are being held in Greenwich Park. How the world tells time Greenwich Mean Time goes back to the mean solar time at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich.
The Tower of London serves as the temporary home of NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. The network anchorman dishes out the world’s current events from there. Meanwhile, NBC Sports, criticized for delayed coverage and lame commentary, televises the Games for prime time viewing in North America and the rest of the world.
The Tower has witnessed many great events in British history. Henry VIII ordered the execution of two of his six wives at the Tower.
More from this Column:
- Azkals make Fifa work harder
- Volleyball’s near death experience
- Abap still on a ‘learning curve’
- Boxing for pesos
- Sportsmen in politics