Home Columns Anantha Narayan Olympian standard

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    Jason Statham, the action hero of Transporter, and the Brit star with more Facebook fans than Narendra Modi (54 million fans, at the last count) is a man known for multiple talents. He’s studied kung fu, karate and kickboxing. He can play football well. And chess, even better. As a teenager, he chose diving as his first love. Not many know that Statham competed in the Olympic trials thrice (Seoul, Barcelona and Atlanta). Thankfully, his sporting career nosedived. Else, we’d never have seen him biffing the bad guys to pulp.
    Some other celebrities did fare better at the Olympics, though. Dr Benjamin Spock, the big daddy of child rearing, best known for his book Baby and Child Care, won a gold medal for Team Rowing for the United States at the 1924 Paris games. Philips Noel Baker, British politician and Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1959, won a silver at the 1920 summer games. Incidentally, he’s the only guy to win an Olympic medal and a Nobel.
    Trivia aside, the one other thing that’s fascinating about the ‘Greatest Show on Earth’ is the parade of odd names on display. Kim Yoo Suk is a perfect example. He’s a South Korean pole vaulter with no medals to his credit. One vicious meme about him reads, ‘He looked like a winner, till the crowd started to chant his name’. Poor Kim!
    Equestrian William Speed Lane Fox-Pitt is another sportsman worth tracking at Rio.With his name, he could have chosen any form of racing. But our man opted to saddle up. Remains to be seen if he outfoxes his opponents.
    Chinese gymnast Dong Dong is apparently eyeing a gold again in the trampoline event. If that happens, don’t be surprised if you’re swamped with headlines like ‘Dong Dong on a Song Song’.
    Lee Bum-young is a titter-worthy footballer. He made a name for himself as a goalkeeper in the 2012 London games by saving a crucial penalty in the quarter finals. If he hadn’t, everyone would have panned him as a bummer.
    I’ll shed light on many more athlete names in the days to come, but for now I’ll wind up with a terrific fact: the first person to use the word ‘Olympian’ in writing was not an ancient Greek. It was Shakespeare.

    Anantha Narayan

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