What a bunch of sorry losers

24 August 2016 - 09:49 By Archie Henderson
None
None None

Now that the orgy of lachrymose nationalism - also known as the Olympics - is over for another four years, it's time to get back to the humdrum of life and take comfort that many Olympians are just like us: ordinary people who feel sorry for themselves and have poor excuses for doing so.

Take Lynsey Sharp, the Scottish woman who was a beneficiary of the £350-million (about R6-billion) that Britain lavished on its athletes.

She finished sixth in the women's 800m, then hinted that she would have liked at least one of those who beat her (she stopped just short of naming Caster Semenya) banned from the Games. That's one way of winning a gold medal: having your opponents eliminated for some spurious biological reason.

As excuses go, it was one of the more original, unlike Ireland's Michael Conlan. The bantamweight boxer lost to Russia's Vladimir Nikitin in the quarterfinals, then claimed he had been robbed.

The "we wuz robbed" excuse goes back at least to 1932 when manager Joe Jacobs used it after his fighter, Max Schmeling, had clearly outboxed Jack Sharkey for the world heavyweight title but lost the decision. Jacobs, a serial mangler of English syntax, is also credited with "I should of stood in bed" after he had got up from a sickbed to bet on the wrong team in the 1935 baseball World Series.

These reasons for defeat rank high on the Olympic scale for pathetic excuses. Ryan Lochte's is among the lowest. When he and three swimming buddies trashed a service station, he claimed they had been robbed (a credible excuse in parts of Rio). Lochte, winner of 12 Olympic medals, apologised on Instagram (how insincere is that?) until his mother made him grovel on Brazilian TV.

In the sore loser category, Egyptian wrestler Islam el Shehaby is a strong contender for the medal. He refused to shake the hand of Israeli opponent Os Sasson after he had been beaten by Sasson in the men's judo. He was deservedly booed.

The most entertaining losers were Mongolian wrestling officials who protested against one of their team losing by stripping off their shirts and throwing their shoes to the floor. One of their number disrobed to his underpants. Apparently that's the equivalent of booing in Ulan Bator.

The medal for the most miserable Olympian goes to US women's soccer goalkeeper Hope Solo.

After her team's defeat by Sweden, in which she let in five goals, four coming in a penalty shootout, she called the opponents "a bunch of cowards", just because they had parked the bus, blocking 27 shots at goal by the US as opposed to six by the Swedes. Solo is reported to be facing two cases of domestic violence back home.

Most unfair criticism of the Games goes to American gymnast Gabby Douglas, who was slammed on social media (that venomous little tool) for slouching on the podium while awaiting the team gold medal.

If anything, Douglas stands in complacent contrast to the black power salute by Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Games.

In that context, it was brave of Ethiopian Feyisa Lilesa to use his second place in the marathon as a protest against his government's murderous crackdown of the Oromo people, of whom Lilesa is a member. Douglas might provoke a little social media spite; Lilesa is courting arrest and torture back home.

X