High life | 11 August 2012

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If the London Olympics do not go down in history as the Crying Games, I will perform a sex act on Vladimir Putin in Piccadilly Circus as the clock strikes 12 next New Year’s Eve. Olympic winners’ tears made the place look like Niagara Falls at times, and with the floods up in Scotland I feared for the safety of cattle and other animals.

Winners cried much more than losers, which makes the Devil laugh, according to an old proverb, and makes me wonder what is happening to the Brits. Take, for example, the lightweight women’s double skulls. The event was won convincingly by two nice British girls who broke down and cried so much they had to sweep the place for tears in order for the medal ceremony to take place. For three quarters of the race two Greek girls — one of them very pretty — led bravely until passed by the British boat. Then, literally two yards away from the finish line, two Chinese robots nipped them for the silver. During the ceremony the two winners cried and cried, the two Chinese robots looked blank, and the two Greek girls laughed and waved and looked happy and nice. So there’s something wrong with this picture. We Greeks are supposedly emotional human beings. The Brits are known to be phlegmatic and have a stiff upper lip. Maybe the winners were Greeks wearing blonde wigs, and the bronze medallists British, although everyone agrees that the robots were Chinese.

I don’t know what makes grown men and women cry when they win something they’ve been training hard for most of their lives, perhaps because the last time I blubbed a bit was when I had fought my last judo match one year ago. But no one saw it and I made sure they didn’t. The time before was when I lost my first wrestling match aged 11 at boarding school. Crying was supposed to be for sissies back then, but now sissies are in and tough guys are out. That’s a Sixties legacy, I suppose, when Vietnam soldiers returned and then cried while Jane Fonda types abused them for following orders. It’s been downhill ever since. Can you imagine what it would have looked like if Jesse Owens had cried in front of Hitler? Or had clowned around à la Bolt after winning the 100? My favourite was the French judoka who got bronze and cried when she lost in the final, and then really cried when she won the bronze. It was as if she was being paid to cry. Champion judokas in the land of cheese are paid a hell of a lot by sponsors — there are 600,000 licensed practitioners in France — so it wouldn’t surprise me if it were in her contract to show her human, feminine side as opportunities arose.

What I never understood was the grovelling by the BBC commentators to French and Cuban judo competitors who showed contempt for their opponents and disregarded orders by the refs. The six-foot-eight, 230-kilo Frog heavyweight disrespected his white Russian finalist opponent whom he beat only through penalties — he never got close to throwing him — but to listen to the Beeb’s mouthpieces one would have thought it was the Second Coming. The worse decision was the one that robbed the Japanese women’s heavyweight finalist in favour of a Cuban gargoyle, but what else is new? The Japanese are not known for protesting and challenging the Olympic status quo. Which is to facilitate small dictatorships that make trouble and bring bad publicity to the Olympic ‘family’ to the detriment of law-abiding nations that have impeccable manners towards their opponents as the Japanese do.

But back to bottom lips quivering and the blub fairy. I am certain some Olympians have been looking at the Oscars and taking notes. Cue lachrymose and start rattling off relations, coaches, partners, even exes. One who did not was the beautiful Kayla Harrison, who won her gold medal in judo and never cried or mentioned the fact that her ex-coach is doing ten years in the Big House for sexually abusing her. Harrison is now coached by the great Jimmy Pedro, who fights for the same club as I do in New York.

The one I felt sorry for was the only Saudi female athlete, who looked ill at ease at the opening ceremony and even more so — she’s only a blue belt in judo — when thrown almost immediately by her Puerto Rican opponent. The Saudis and Qataris do not produce athletes. They buy them in Africa the way they buy everything else. With their ill-gotten gains, which keep the ruling family in the style they never had until the oil was discovered. And now for the unmentionable. A German rower was sent home when a paper revealed that her boyfriend belonged to an extreme-right party — a legal one, mind you. What kind of anti-fascist hysteria is this? The Greek triple jumper who was expelled by the Greek Olympic federation ditto. All the Greek lassie did was to post a comment about how many Africans are parked in Greece for the duration. There are more than a million. This is police state stuff, which Europe is quickly becoming. One has not only to train one’s body to compete, but also one’s mindset. Africa and Muslim nations are good, everything white is bad and banned from future competition. The Chinese got the message long ago. They genetically clone their athletes to perform and not to think. Having said all that, the London Games were a great success, even to an old grouch like myself.