There’s just something impressive about quitting in style. Every time I watch diving events there is a tiny part of my brain praying that someone will yell “Cannonball!” as they take their final dive. Just once.
If you can’t win a medal, why not make a name for yourself? But what the hell is going on with these athletes who are just phoning it in and then getting disqualified?
The latest was an Algerian runner, Taoufik Makhloufi. After qualifying for the 1,500-meter final, where he apparently has a shot at a medal, Makhloufi was none too thrilled that his team still wanted him to run in an 800-meter preliminary a short time later.
So, after running just a portion of the race, the Algerian runner sat down. That didn’t go over well with the field referee, who said Makhloufi failed to make a good faith effort to compete, and disqualified him from further events.
Algeria claimed he really was injured, but appealed the ruling, just in case he got better in time for the finals of the 1,500 on Tuesday. Lo and behold, the organizers decided he probably was hurt, and reinstated him. At which point Algeria announced the runner would likely recover in time for the finals.
At least Makhloufi put in the effort to come up with an excuse. Last week we had badminton-gate, in which teams from China, Indonesia, and South Korea admitted they were trying to lose a game in the round-robin tournament to draw a better opponent in the next round.
They were booted, causing more people to discuss badminton in one day than in the entire previous century combined.
Then we have the coach of the Japanese women’s soccer team — the defending FIFA World Cup champions — who told his team to not win in a game against a rather weak South African team. Well he didn’t say lose, he just told them not to score.
“It was a different way of playing compared to the usual game, but the players were on the same page as me,” the coach said after the game. The reason, he explained, was that the team didn’t want to travel for its quarter-final game.
A different way to play?! Amazingly, the governing body over women’s soccer opted not to discipline the coach, saying there wasn’t sufficient evidence to investigate. Oh, ok.
Not Fair, We Weren’t Winning
But the winner for losing in the most ridiculous way goes to Great Britain’s Philip Hindes, a member of the cycling team that eventually won the gold medal. Seems Hindes didn’t like the start his team got, so he crashed.
“I just crashed; I did it on purpose to get a restart, just to have the fastest ride,” he told reporters. Because teams can get a second start, he figured no harm no foul.
As best I can tell, this is the cycling equivalent of saying the wind knocked over the chessboard when you used your knee to push it off the table. But as soon as the judges started sniffing around, the 19-year-old German-born cyclist insisted he was misunderstood.
And just in case you think this is an example of playing favorites for the home town, an IOC spokesman explained it all to the BBC.
“People were not deprived of a competition, unlike in the badminton. A race took place and best efforts were made by the British team,” said the IOC’s Mark Adams.
“They see no reason to question the result and neither do we. This is a matter of degree and judgement. In the case of the badminton it clearly crossed the line.”
Got it? Yeah, me neither. But I give up.
About Project TILWO — Every day I watch London 2012 Olympic coverage on TV and online then share the lessons I learned, with occasional help from my friends. Edited by Lynn Hess @ Premier Proofing.