Summer Olympics Preview Part 4: Obscure Trivia, What to Watch, and Phelps vs Lochte Revisited

[Editor’s Note: And just like that we’ve arrived at Opening Day of the 2012 Summer Olympics. It seems like just yesterday Nkilla and I were discussing the crazy sport known as the Modern Pentathlon or the phenomenon that is olympic swimming. While those posts were actually weeks ago, we pretty much did just get done discussing the olympic sport best suited for a normal civilian to compete in successfully. We decided for our final email exchange to really empty out the proverbial notebook. In this fourth post, we ask each other some very obscure trivia questions, talk about the best events to watch and how to watch them, revisit the Phelps vs. Lochte debate, and show you the next “big” thing in Beach Volleyball. There’s something for everyone so please enjoy.]

From: Rmurdera

To: Nkilla

OK, we’re in the home stretch for the London Games to kick off so it’s now or never to get any final words of advice out there to our beloved readers. Rather than pose the question of who are the hottest female athletes in the Olympics, several websites have already done the hard work for us. Here is the Bleacher Report’s “100 Hottest Female Olympians of 2012.”

That covers all countries.

And Men’s Fitness has come out with their version, the Sexiest US Olympic Women:

Instead of us debating who’s the hottest athlete, I’ve run some stats on the top 30 according to the Bleacher Report I referenced above (because who cares about anyone outside of the top 30 honestly?).

Here’s what I found:

-In terms of countries, Italy has 3 women in the top 30, Russia has 4 women in the top 30, and the US has a whopping 10 women in the top 30.

-In terms of sport, tennis occupies 3 of the top 30, volleyball and beach volleyball each have 3 in the top 30, track & field has 4 in the top 30, and soccer has 7.

How do you feel upon hearing those stats? Does it line up with what you would have expected? Is it really possible that the US has 1/3rd of the hottest 30 female athletes in the olympics? After all, there are 205 total countries competing in the olympics…seems a bit absurd to think such a large concentration of hotness is coming from one country.

And what about Soccer having the most spots? Are soccer chicks really that good looking? Would you have expected any other sport to make a run at soccer before I showed you these stats?

A little random trivia for you…I just mentioned that 205 countries are competing in this year’s Olympics. Can you guess how many countries are competing from each of these continents…Africa, Asia, and Europe? Don’t google it, just try to guess.

And finally, do you wanna weigh in for our audience on the whole “London is 8 hours ahead of the West Coast of the US so watching the important events on TV without having Twitter, Facebook or ESPN ruin the results ahead of time is going to be a challenge” issue? What’s the best way for people to watch the events? And remember that some people can’t sit in an office and stream the games live on their 2nd and 3rd monitors like you can…

From: Nkilla

To: Rmurdera

Regarding the attractive and obviously-smart-as-well women of the Olympics:

You retrieved your lists from websites that are primarily visited by US citizens, so I am not surprised how many of the top 30 are American. If you found a popular German site that came up with the same list, I wonder what the results would be. Although, the US tends to be able to qualify women for all events, which cannot be said for most other countries, so since US women make up the largest percentage of all female Olympians maybe it makes sense that they have a higher percentage of smart and attractive athletes. I almost want to apply math to the soccer situation as well. Each soccer team has 22 or so ladies to choose from so it probably makes sense mathematically that soccer yields the highest percentage of smart and attractive women. My prediction though is that there is going to be some women’s beach volleyball team that garners a lot of attention for something other than their play. I feel like it happens every Olympics. Misty May and Kerri Walsh are getting a little older now so they are past their prime with their “non-athletic appeal,” but someone is going to step up. My prediction is Kolocova & Slukova.

As for your “countries by continent” trivia, here are my answers:

Africa = 35

Asia = 37

Europe = 44

Those are all just guesses; I did not google it. Here is an interesting question related to country participation. For international soccer, England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland all field their own teams as independent nations. Yet for the Olympics, they all compete as the single nation of the United Kingdom. Why? And could Canada and Australia join the UK team if they wanted?

The best way to watch the events is live, either at home or on your computer. Most of the medal events will happen late in the day London time, which means sometime between 9am-noon Pacific Time. When NBC shows the replay, you know they are going to save the best events for the end of their primetime broadcast, so we are talking between 11pm-midnight. I do not believe the average sports fan can keep themselves from finding out the results for up to 15 hours, so really if you care about not having it spoiled for you, then you need to find a way to watch it live.

I bought a copy of the Sports Illustrated Olympic Preview issue the other day because they try and predict the winners of every single medal, and I am toying with the idea of tracking how accurate they are. My guess is that they are going to be around 20% with picking the exact winner of the exact medal for each event. In terms having their three picks for each event win any medal, do you think they will be over or under 50%? I’m going to go with slightly over. They are also predicting the US and China to tie with 42 golds each, and the US to edge out China in total medals 99 to 97.

Another fun thing about the SI preview: They put a fun little sentence about the sport or competitor for each event. For instance, after the Men’s Individual Archery picks, they wrote “Two-time champ Im (the gentleman they picked for the gold) has 20/200 vision.” So my guessing game back at you: here are my favorite tidbits; Can you figure out what event they belong to?

“The Wangs are not related.”

“Nevin beat his cousin Michael to win the Irish nationals.” (This one is only good once you figure out the sport and imagine that the Irish qualifications happen drunk one night outside a bar.)

“McKeever will soon qualify as a chartered accountant.”

“Ex-bartender Heath can mix 150 cocktails.”

“Daley’s coach taunted Qiu on Twitter this year.”

“Fox-Pitt’s middle name is Speed Lane.”

“Orozco had three background roles in Law & Order.”

“New Zealand’s Logan Campbell opened a legal brothel to fund his training.”

“Cheywa attended police college.”

From: Rmurdera

To: Nkilla

Let’s tackle the trivia portion of your email first.

Africa actually has 51 countries participating while Asia and Europe have 45 countries in the olympics. The reason I asked—and really the only reason this caught me off guard—is because my entire knowledge of Africa and its countries is from the board game Risk. And in that game, there are all of six countries represented. I always thought there was something like 6-12 total countries on that continent.

For your really random and obscure trivia questions, here are your quotes again with my answers and my rationale:

“The Wangs are not related.” = Table Tennis: because Wangs = Asians and Asians = Good at Ping Pong

“Nevin beat his cousin Michael to win the Irish nationals.” (This one is only good once you figure out the sport and imagine that the Irish qualifications happen drunk one night outside a bar.) = Wrestling: because your clue of being drunk outside a bar makes me think it’s a head-to-head fighting type of event, and I don’t see the Irish having anyone entered into Boxing

“McKeever will soon qualify as a chartered accountant.” = Sailing: because people charter things like planes and boats, right? And a lot of accountants probably like sailboats.

“Ex-bartender Heath can mix 150 cocktails.” = Handball: because playing handball seems to be as athletic of a sport as mixing cocktails.

“Daley’s coach taunted Qiu on Twitter this year.” = Badminton: because I have no fucking clue.

“Fox-Pitt’s middle name is Speed Lane.” = Track & Field: because speed lane makes me think of a fast runner.

“Orozco had three background roles in Law & Order.” = Shooting: because this one was obvious…Law & Order is about the police, who have guns, which maybe means this guy shot a fake gun in his background roles and that helped him become an Olympic shooter.

“New Zealand’s Logan Campbell opened a legal brothel to fund his training.” = Water Polo: because it seems like the type of sport that New Zealand would be randomly good at.

“Cheywa attended police college.” = Modern Pentathlon: because at police college you’re probably schooled in shooting, riding a horse, running and maybe sword fighting, and those are four of the events in the Pentathlon.

One final topic I want to revisit before we sign off for good on the Olympics Preview is the Phelps vs. Lochte debate. Even though the rivalry’s cooled down a bit since the US Swimming Trials were broadcast a few weeks ago, it’s going to be ratcheted back up on Day One (July 28th) when they begin their first event, the 400M Individual Medley. Are you rooting for the favorite, the dominant force, the Tiger Woods of swimming (Phelps, obviously)? Or are you rooting for the underdog, the guy who would be the favorite if Phelps wasn’t around, and apparently the more likable guy (Lochte)? Everything I read says that while Phelps doesn’t show much personality to the public, and he doesn’t do much with his time besides swim and pretend to eat at Subway, Lochte is the polar opposite…he’s apparently a “fun-loving, easygoing guy,” and besides swimming he likes to play basketball, volleyball and go surfing.

Do you root for dominance to continue, even if the person doing the dominating doesn’t relate to regular people very well? Or do you root for the underdog who’s apparently a lot more relatable to a normal person?

From: Nkilla

To: Rmurdera

OK, here are the answers to my trivia quotes:

“The Wangs are not related.” = Women’s Singles Badminton

“Nevin beat his cousin Michael to win the Irish nationals.” (This one is only good once you figure out the sport and imagine that the Irish qualifications happen drunk one night outside a bar.)  = Boxing (Irish not entered in boxing? Come on, Rmurdera, they would not let the legacy of Hurricane Peter McNeeley die.)

“McKeever will soon qualify as a chartered accountant.”  = Men’s 200m Kayak Singles

“Ex-bartender Heath can mix 150 cocktails.” = Men’s 200m Kayak Doubles (Seems like if you are good at kayaking you have a lot of free time. Maybe you should take this up).

“Daley’s coach taunted Qiu on Twitter this year.” = Men’s 10m Platform 

“Fox-Pitt’s middle name is Speed Lane.” = Equestrian (So just to be clear, “William Speed Lane Fox-Pitt” is the name of the jockey, not the horse.)

“Orozco had three background roles in Law & Order.” = Gymnastics

“New Zealand’s Logan Campbell opened a legal brothel to fund his training.” = Taekwondo (Makes sense, right? A pimp needs to be able to beat down both employees and customers when necessary.)

“Cheywa attended police college.” = Steeplechase (Also makes sense, the running and jumping over things.)

As for your Risk perspective on Africa, does that mean you have thought the USA was made up of only two states (an eastern state and a western state) for the past 30 years? Also, in any history class throughout high school or college, if there was a question on a test as to how a war started, did you simply just write the one word answer: “Siam”?

I’m going to keep the Phelps vs Lochte argument simple since I already talked about it in part two of our Olympic preview:

After seeing Lochte’s picture on his wikipedia page and seeing he is from New York, I decided he looks like a typical Yankees fan so I am completely “Team Phelps” when they go head-to-head, but I’ll switch back to “Team Lochte” any time he is competing against the Russians.

Finally, for anyone wondering what events they should consider watching over the first weekend of the games:


Men’s 400m IM Final – Saturday 11:30am

Women’s 400m IM Final – Saturday 12:10pm

Women’s 4×100 Free Final – Saturday 12:40pm

Men’s 100m Breast Final – Sunday 12:00pm

Men’s 4×100 Free Final – Sunday 12:50pm

Men’s 200m Free Final – Monday 11:40am


Men’s 132 lb Judo Medal match – Saturday 8am (Although if this is not exactly like the All Valley Karate Championship from Karate Kid, including music, I’m going to be pissed.)

Men’s Team Archery Medal Match – Saturday 10am (I’m expecting Hunger Games, but with adults)

Men’s 400m Free Final – Saturday 11:50am

Men’s 145 lb Judo Medal match – Sunday 8am

Women’s Team Archery Medal Match – Sunday 10am

Men’s Individual Sabre Final – Sunday 11:10am

Women’s 100m Fly Final – Sunday 11:30am

Women’s 400m Free Final – Sunday 12:15pm

Men’s 161 lb Judo Medal match – Monday 8am

Women’s 100m Back Final – Monday 11:50am

Men’s 100m Back Final – Monday 11:55am

Women’s 100m Breast Final – Monday 12:10pm


Men’s Team Gymnastic Finals – Monday 8:30am

To: Nkilla

From: Rmurdera

I know you had addressed the Phelps/Lochte rivalry earlier, but I was hoping you’d give us a little more substance than “Lochte’s a Yankees fan so I don’t like him.” My opinion is that I want Phelps to dominate again. I hate an underdog success story. I always root for the scenario where I’ll be able to tell your kids someday that I saw the most dominant athlete at a given sport in his prime. That’s why even amidst the Tiger Woods personal life meltdown a few years ago, I’m still hoping he crushes the Major Championships record. I always root for the favorites, at least until the first sign of disappointment. No one jumps off a bandwagon quite as quickly as me.

Summer Olympics Preview Part 3: Which Olympic Sport Could You Best Compete In?

[Editor’s Note: You’re about to read Part Three of our ongoing Olympics Preview, where Nkilla and I debate which olympic sport a “normal person” (read: nonathlete) could best compete in. If you’re worried about reading part three before reading parts one and two because you think the chronological order of these posts matters, don’t. But if you do want to catch up on the internet’s most entertaining London Games Preview, here are the links: Part One discusses the ridiculousness known as the Modern Pentathlon, while Part Two focuses on every American’s favorite fake interest: Olmypic Swimming. With part three, Nkilla really did the heavy lifting as you’ll see by the record-setting length of his emails to me. I’m starting to think there is no one more excited for these Summer Olympics than him. Buckle up for a lengthy debate, and as always, enjoy.]

From: Rmurdera

To: Nkilla

In our previous email exchanges about swimming, you mentioned that swimming and track & field are likely popular spectator sports at the Olympics because most people know how to swim, and everyone knows how to run, so they are events we can personally relate to. That’s a fair point, but obviously we would never try to say that a civilian spectator could just show up the day of an olympic swimming or track event and put up a fight against the world’s top athletes in that sport. That’s insane.

But are there events in the Summer Olympics that we think might be unathletic and random enough that a civilian like you or I could presumably compete with the world’s best in?
Which event or events do you think a lay person could best compete in?
Let’s specifically take the two of us as those example “civilians” and talk about which events we’d best compete in.  Keep in mind that in order to compete in these events, we’d actually have to be willing to show up and participate. This means Boxing and Taekwondo are out because I’m pretty sure neither of us would even step into the ring or onto the Taekwondo mat to face an Olympian in these events.

From: Nkilla

To: Rmurdera

OK, so I think what you are asking is what events could a random civilian not only compete in but actually have a chance of medaling in, or at least a top 10 finish.

I want to go back to boxing first. You realize that olympic boxing requires all competitors to wear helmets, and that the bouts only go three rounds, correct? So in order for a civilian to do well all you have to do is get in the ring, dance around for nine minutes, hope to not get drilled in the head, and then hope the judges like your tactics and make you the winner. And if you don’t think that could happen, remember that in 1988 Roy Jones Jr. lost the gold medal after he dominated the bout because all three judges admitted they did not want the South Korean he was fighting to not get any votes in front of his home crowd. Unfortunately for Roy, the judges decided to conspire separately instead of together and he lost 3-0. I also found three official-looking summaries on the interwebs of the Olympic Boxing Judging Rules, and all three summaries used these words somewhere in their description about the process: controversy, bias, scandal. So maybe we shouldn’t dismiss boxing so quickly.

So the first thing we need to do here is rule out all the events that use any type of weapon. The people that are pros with swords, bow & arrows and guns are pretty accurate. Maybe we get lucky and hit the center of the target once, but not the hundreds of times it would take to advance past the first round. As we know from this we therefore need to eliminate the Modern Pentathlon as well. I think we can safely rule out all the other “fighting” sports as well for a combination of lack of training and getting a serious beat down, so that eliminates Judo, Taekwondo, and Wrestling. Also, I know I hit the gym every once in a while but Weightlifting is out as well.

Certain events we can rule out because we simply physically cannot perform the act required (all gymnastic events), know how to perform the actual movements but would get slaughtered (swimming and diving), or are just stupid (synchronized swimming). As for the nautical events, let’s eliminate anything that requires rowing because we probably do not have the correct development of our rowing muscles to go more than fifty yards. I was wondering if we could hop in a sail boat, point the boat in the right direction, and get the correct wind and luck ourselves into the top ten. Then I looked at the footage of some olympic sailing races…a lot of ropes and throwing body weight around and hanging off of boats, so I think all nautical events are out.

Let’s look at the raquette sports. Tennis is out because if we could compete in olympic tennis, we would have played at Wimbledon earlier this month. Ping Pong is out because world-class ping pong players are insane and hit the ball ridiculously hard and fast. But what about badminton? My instinct was that no matter how hard someone swings, that shuttlecock thing can only go so fast based on what I know about physics. Go to youtube and search for “olympic badminton.” I think this one might be a possibility.

So let’s talk team sports for a bit. I think for this category we have to evaluate if you could actually start on the team and contribute. That eliminates basketball, field hockey and both types of volleyball. I was thinking water polo might be a possibility. I can tread water and swim pretty well, can throw a ball around…so based on visuals and my personal perception, I would think water polo would be in play. The problem is, I know a couple people who played water polo in college and they are extremely adamant that you can not imagine how much swimming you have to do until you actually play. So I’m not sure I could make it five minutes through a match without needing a lifeguard to jump in and save me. That leaves handball. Again, you will have to do some youtube research to see how the game is actually played, but it looks like a bunch of guys pass a ball around, the defense forms sort of a wall 15 feet from the goal, one team tries to throw the ball in the net, and then you repeat down the other end of the court. I feel like I could do that right now.

We know most of the track and field events are out, but did you know “race walking” is an event? That’s right, “who can walk the fastest” is an actual olympic event. We can walk, right? We can walk fast when we need to, right? So we could probably compete in this one, right? Wrong. The men’s race is 12.4 miles. The time needed just to qualify for the medal round in 2008 was 1 hour 23 minutes. That is a 6:40 pace. Could you even go and run a 6:40 mile right now?

Now on to “events with bikes.” The triathlon, road cycling events, and BMX events are not options. Sorry to keep saying “check this out on youtube”, but check out Olympic Track Cycling. If the race is four times around the track, it seems like the object is to barely move for the first 3.8 laps so you are not in the front, then sprint the last 30 yards and try to win. Is there any reason we could win a couple of short sprints or get lucky and have our opponent fall? Or am I completely wrong on this and once our opponent sized us up they would spring their entire race against us and destroy us?

I want to discuss trampoline for a minute because I think this would be a lot of people’s first answer. In fact, many people (myself included) would question why trampolining is even considered a sport. So naturally I went to watch some olympic style trampolining on youtube. Unfortunately I have to admit I could not show up without any training to compete in this. Remember that we are trying to decide if we could make the top ten. There is no way I could do so many flips with such perfect form on a single jump. I’m not arguing whether or not trampolining should be an Olympic sport. That is an entirely different conversation. I’m saying there is no way I could do what I saw on youtube.

One final option: Equestrian. Again, not arguing that this should even be in the Olympics as the horse does 98% of the work, but that is a good argument for why I could show up at the ranch on medal day and possibly pull off the upset, right? As long as I can get the horse to follow the designated route, he will do the rest. If this horse made the horsey olympic team then I assume that as long as I have him running towards a gate he is going to jump it whether or not I give the right command. I would hope he is not going to plow right through it just because I don’t shout “ole” and flex my left calf at the correct time.

So to summarize, in no particular order yet, here are the events I think an average mobile person could compete in during the Olympics and have a reasonable showing with the right tactics:

track cycling

From: Rmurdera

To: Nkilla

Wow, that was a very comprehensive reply to my question…It seemed like the answer of a guy who is awake more hours than usual and couldn’t find anything better to do with his time.

First of all, I love how easy you make it sound to just jump into a boxing ring (18 feet x 18 feet) and “dance around for nine minutes” while a skilled boxer chases after you. Sounds really simple.

Are you sure you wanna rule out synchronized swimming? You remember me, you & Pueto (our middle brother, for the uninitiated) pulling off some pretty amazing synchronized moves in grandma & grandpa’s pool back in the day, right? It may be a stupid sport, but all I care about in this case is what we can admirably compete in. This might be one to go for. We have previous “training.”

I took your advice and watched some Olympic Badminton highlights…I couldn’t disagree with you more. Sure, it’s not like the “pro’s” are gonna hit the cock harder than you can, it only goes so fast. But I have a feeling that they place the cock exactly where they want on the court every time. Meaning you’d be diving for their shot by the 2nd time they send it over your way, and even if you luckily return it, they’d simply place it where you’re not. No chance.

But wow, you might be 100% right with handball. How is this an olympic sport? There are a lot of things about the olympics that make it seem like a sham, but including handball as a sport might be the most egregious of them. If the highlights I watched are equivalent to how all handball is played, then you’re right. We could get a team of seven from our group of friends and possibly medal in this event. It looks like there is absolutely no contact allowed between players, and if that’s the case, there’s really no difference between those olympians and us. I’m moving this to my top nominee for our question for now.

Regarding your question around Track Cycling, I’ll make it easy: I doubt either of us could stay upright on the bike if we had to ride it on one of those curved, sloped tracks. Moving on…

With the Trampolining event, I’d only think I had a chance if the Olympic Committee allowed a slight rule tweak. I would need another person (specifically Eamon Moran) on the trampoline with me so that he could “double bounce” me. If I got the perfect double bounce with Eamon sending me twice as high as I could normally jump, then I give myself a chance. Not a good chance, but a chance.

And for the Equestrian option you threw out there…we should probably consult with someone who’s at least ridden a horse once because I know neither of us have, and maybe there’s more to it than just lining the horse up on the course and letting him go at it. But I think this is worth a shot, and the bonus is if you do poorly at this event, you can say, “I guess old JohnnyComeLately didn’t have it in him today.”

I want to throw one more event out to you before I give my ranking: Canoe Slalom.

I would never dare to think that we could compete in the Canoe Sprint, which seems like you actually need to be athletic and skilled for.  But the Slalom doesn’t seem that much more difficult than some of the rafting we’ve done on weekend trips in the Bay Area over the years. The river’s doing a lot of the work for you. I feel like you could just throw the paddle away and get lucky with the river taking you down without a problem. Those one-person kayaks/canoes are super easy to control and again, I’ll reiterate, nine times out of 10, you can screw up and take the wrong line through a rapid, and the river will still guide you to the bottom. Check it out and let me know if you agree:

So here’s my current ranking from toughest to easiest of which events a civilian could compete in reasonably well at the London Olympics:

5). Trampoline (with my proposed “Eamon Moran” addendum to the current rules)

4). Equestrian

3). Synchronized Swimming

2). Canoe Slalom

1). Handball

Agree? Disagree? Are your rankings different than mine?

From: Nkilla

To: Rmurdera

I stand by my boxing position. The heavyweight division is for anyone between 179 and 200 pounds. I would be on the “spry” side of that weight class so I really think I could dance around some of the slower, huskier gentlemen. I also really think the helmet helps. I might be able to absorb two good punches before I go down. I just think that with the history of olympic boxing corruptness, it makes sense to put yourself in a situation where a well paid Ukrainian can help you win an undeserved medal.

I remember you and Pueto doing synchronized swimming routines, but I am pretty sure I just watched and made fun of you. Especially if this is going up on a public internet site, then for sure I just watched. Also, I do not want it in my search history (unless it is this exact video) so I did not do it, but you should go youtube some olympic synchronized swimming. Yes, it is completely lame, but there is a lot of breath holding and keeping of legs completely straight for long periods of time. How about this: if you go to a pool and do a handstand in the shallow end for 30 seconds while keeping your legs compeltely straight, we can re-open the synchronoized swimming discussion. After you fail at that, also remember that touching the bottom of the pool with any part of your body during synchronized swimming is either a serious point decuation or complete disqualification (I do not even care enough about the sport to see which of those options is correct, but I know one of them is).

I went back and watched some badminton a little more carefully. Seems like the strategy is to hit lobs to the back corner, and if you don’t, your opponent is either going to unleash a volleyball style spike or do a little drop shot. You are probably right, too much skill and too much moving to just show up for this one.

I talked to a friend who is very into cycling. We would not fall off the curved track; they are not very steep. The other gentlemen in the competition though, they can get their speed up to 52mph in less than a quarter of a lap. Probably safe to rule track cycling out now based on that. Also, no rule tweaks allowed with your trampoline theory. I could make a case for winning twenty or so different events with a single rule tweak (probably an entire separate conversation) so you can not have Eamon the “double bouncer” help you in trampoline.

As for canoe slalom, you are out of your mind. First of all, those are probably class IV rapids they are canoeing in. Secondly, in the first 36 seconds of the video you referenced, the competitor stops on a dime and does significant paddling against the current. I couldn’t find anything remotely close on youtube, but I really wish there was a video of someone just “letting the river do the work” on one of these courses. I would probably pay up to $20 for that footage if it existed.

So after all this I think my rankings are:

4. Trampoline (even without the rule change, at least you wouldn’t hurt yourself).

3. Equestrian

2. Boxing

1. Handball

Seems like we have come to a consensus. Do we need to look for any proof that handball might be harder than we are seeing? Or should we just assume we could medal with a competent team around us?

From: Rmurdera

To: Nkilla

The canoe slalom argument is very timely because I’m going canoeing on a river in Rumsey, California, this weekend. I believe there is a single Class III rapid. Even though Julie will be with me, I will go ahead and throw both of our paddles out of the canoe right as we approach this rapid and see if the river “does the work for us,” as I suspect it will. And if I can handle a Class III without a paddle, liquored up, with a cooler and an extra person on board, then I think it’s safe to say I could finish top 10 in the olympic canoe slalom.

Also, a few years from now when we both have more money than we know how to spend, let’s organize this experiment: you step into a boxing ring against an olympic boxer and try to last three rounds, and I’ll hop on a canoe and go through a series of Class IV rapids by myself. We’ll see who comes out of that in better shape.

My biggest problem with attempting Equestrian is what happened to Michelle Tanner on that Full House Episode when she got thrown from her horse and lost her memory. I don’t need that.

So I guess the only consensus we can come to is that Handball is ridiculously easy, and Trampoline is a low-risk option. Let’s hold tryouts for our Handball team in the Fall.

Summer Olympics Preview Part 1: Pentathlons, the Modern & Naked Kinds

[Editor’s Note: Now that I’ve found my obscure-sports guest blogger, Neil “nkilla” Gariepy, I’m ready to expand his role on the WBFF blog.  With the Summer Olympics less than four weeks away, nkilla and I will be previewing the London Games on a weekly basis.  There will be no rhyme or reason to what we talk about, and we will make absolutely no attempt to educate ourselves properly before throwing out wild theories and opinions.  The format of these Olympic blogs will be that of an email exchange between the two of us.  Basically one of us will ask a question via email to kickoff the conversation, and then we’ll trade emails back and forth until the topic has exhausted itself.  Sometimes that might be 15 emails; sometimes it might be one.  When we finally kill a topic, I’ll post the transcript as a new blog post.  Enjoy.]

From: Nkilla

To: Rmurdera

So I was doing some research for the Olympic preview at lunch today. Came across the event known as the Modern Pentathlon. I would like you to guess which five events make up the Modern Pentathlon. Don’t google it, just guess first. I feel like there should be a $10 million prize if you could somehow guess all five. It is probably worth $100 if you could even guess three of them.

From: Rmurdera

To: Nkilla

Off the top of my head:

-Steeple Chase
-Equestrian Jumping/Obstacle Course
-400M running
As you can tell, I wouldn’t even stake $5 on me getting one of those correct.

From: Nkilla

To: Rmurdera

The actual answer is:
Pistol Shooting
Show jumping (on a horse)
200m swim
3k run
How does someone become good at all five of those things?

From: Rmurdera

To: Nkilla

Better question than “how does someone become good at all five of those things?”….in which order does someone usually become good at each of these things?  Are there people who are good fencers, then they try shooting a pistol one day, discover they’re good at that, and then research what they can do to combine these two skills?  Leading them to have to get good at the other three events if they ever want to be relevant?

Is it people who are only mediocre at running and swimming, knowing they’ll never be able to compete with the best of the best in those individual events so they decide to learn the other events?

I think we track down the US team’s representatives of the pentathlon after the olympics and try to interview them to find out all the answers we’re seeking.

Seriously, which order do you think they get good at these things in?

From: Nkilla

To: Rmurdera

If I had to guess I would say you are good at the horse jumping and shooting first, then you add the other three things. And only because I can see some crazy scenario where people are riding through the woods on their horse shooting at foxes and they somehow realize they’re 40% of the way to being good at a sport.

But the real question is how did this even become a sport in the first place? Did this exact sequence of events happen enough times circa 1850 that it evolved into a sport:

Winston and Charles have an argument that results in a sword duel. After 10 minutes of dueling, Winston gets tired with the sword fight and decides to just shoot Charles. The authorities hear the gun shot which requires Winston to ride his horse through town while being chased. At some point Winston gets to a river, which his horse cannot cross, so he has to swim across. Once Winston makes it across the river, he needs to run a bit to create more distance if the authorities decide to cross the river after him.

Also, if this is the “modern” pentathlon, I can only imagine what made up the “ancient” pentathlon.

From: Rmurdera

To: Nkilla

Well thanks to google and wikipedia, you don’t need to imagine what made up the ancient version:

Long Jump



Stadion (short foot race)


At least a few of these events are actually somewhat related to each other (four of them being part of what we think “track & field” is).

Because the “ancient pentathlon” is so, um, ancient, there’s a lot of speculation around the origin, the order of the events, the scoring, etc.  But the historians seem to think that each of these events was thought to be useful in battle.  That’s the functional relevancy of the five being grouped together.  For the Modern Pentathlon, I like your Winston & Charles story as the reasoning for the five random events to be grouped together.

I’m really glad I read the entire wikipedia entry on the ancient pentathlon because the very last line says, “In the classical games, it was traditional for all of these events to be performed naked.”

I’d love to see the modern one performed naked…especially fencing.  I wonder how NBC would handle the broadcast and highlights of this event if that was the case.

Since you’re probably more on top of the TV schedule for this event and any significant rule changes for this year’s contest, why don’t you bring these emails to a close with some final thoughts and predictions.

From: Nkilla

To: Rmurdera

Apparently they are tweaking the format a little this year to make it more TV friendly. For the first three events (fencing, swim, horse jump) the athletes score various points based on how well they do. Based on their standings after that, they stagger the start for the combined run and shoot portion. So depending on scores in the first three events, the person in first place may have a three second head start for the run and shoot over the second place person, eight seconds over the third place person, and so on. The result is that the first person to cross the finish line at the end of the run and shoot is your gold medal winner. Obviously this works way better for TV because the average Winston sitting at home can tell who wins. A surprisingly logical move by the Olympic committee on this one. For those interested, the run and shoot part for the men should start around 10:45am on Saturday, August 11th, and 10:00am on Sunday, August 12th, for the women.

Do we think the USA has a chance in this obscure sport? Not likely. Currently, the highest-ranked US male in the world rankings is at number 40, and a US male has not medaled in the Modern Pentathlon since the 1960 games. Based on the current world rankings there is a good chance the men’s medals are going to go to some combination of the Russians and Hungarians. A US woman won a silver medal in this event in 2000, but the highest current world ranking for a US female is 41. For you degenerate gamblers out there, the men’s favorite (Andrei Moiseev) is at +250, so there does not seem to be a clear cut favorite on the men’s side. It is even less clear cut on the women’s side, as favorite Lena Schoneborn is at +350.

Final verdict: People should tune in for the 60-minute finale (the run and shoot portion) on the 11th and 12th. It should make for good television with an interesting finish. Bonus points if someone falls on their gun during the run and it goes off, or if they “accidentally” shoot a competitor in front of them.

Also, one reason to watch besides the competition: Chloe Esposito