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08/05/2012

Writer, Fatter, Slower: Nicknames in the Games

Roger "Four Hour" Federer

Roger 4 -hour
He isn't claiming that nickname yet but he should. It conjurs up all sorts of good press and not necessarily that of the longest three-set men's tennis match in Olympic history. While there are often posted warnings to consult your physician if your condition lasts longer than this, for Federer who went 4 hours, 26 minutes against Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina 3-6, 7-6 (5), 19-17, it paved the way to play in the gold medal match today.
 Dibaba
"Four- Hour" Federeer is almost as good a nickname as that given to Tirunesh Dibaba's, my favorite athlete of the moment. The tiny Ethiopian long distance runner and gold medalist in the 10,000 meter race is known in track circles as "The Baby Faced Destroyer." She has an angelic heart-shaped face and a final kick that makes her look like a sprinter. She is completely disarming. When her competitors are wasted, panting, and barely trudging to the finish in the 75-lap race, she has another gear that looks turbo charged. Everyone who races Dibaba is running for second place.  
 
There are a number of Olympic athletes on Team USA whose nicknames could use some fine tuning.  Allyson Felix, track star, is known harshly as "Chicken Legs".  "Gazelle Legs" would be more descriptive, slender and fast. She needs to work on this. I don't know how you edit your nickname, but she's in good company with bad names.   
KaylaSue Bird, women's basketball, is called  "Peanut".   AT 5'9" she is short by WNBA standards, but her awards, if stacked, would probably tower over her. Kayla Harrison, (in white, at right) the first American to win gold in judo, is known as "Doug."  She's better than that. Let's get that girl something more dominant than Doug.
 
There are some good nicknames as well. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, double gold winner in the 100-meter from Jamaica, the world's fastest woman in 2008 and 2012 is known as Medusa. She says it is for her craziness, not due to a hair style or ability to freeze people in their tracks, they keep moving, just slower than she. On Team USA, Alex Morgan, women's soccer, is called "Baby Horse." Michael Hunter, heavyweight boxer, is "Bounty Hunter", and Todd Rogers, beach volleyball is "The Professor." If you have ever heard him in a post match interview you know why. He takes special delight in making the pat interview questions sound shallow and trite. 
Todd the professor rogers
 Todd Rogers at right as he dives for the ball during a beach volleyball match.
Newscasters have been calling Michael Phelps, "The Baltimore Bullet," but that doesn't sound like anything they would say to his face. From here on out they will probably be down on one knee calling him "Your Worship." 
 

Traded, John for Apollo

John McEnroe was hovering around the NBC set the first week of competition, and viewers had to wonder why. He's been replaced. thankfully, by Olympian and multi-medal winner Apollo Ohno who makes this a completely satisfying Olympic experience. He went shopping the Olympic store recently and brought us the fascinating tidbit that in Australia Speedos are known as budgie smugglers. There are amusing illustrations of the term on Google Images. 
 

Boo boo tape

Kin tape Keesy of America 
Pink
kinesio tape on Kerry Walsh's shoulder is decorative and functional
 
Athletes with strained muscles, tennis elbow, and shin splints, will use brightly colored tape to fix the problem. Beach volleyballer Kerry Walsh's shoulder was sporting a decorative pink splash of tape all week, swimmers used it on their shoulders, knees and legs as have runners. The product is called Kinesio tape, developed by kinesiologists who claim it helps healing by relieving pressure and increasing circulation. Detractors say, no, probably not, but if the athletes think it's doing good why not.
Why not indeed? It's no less harmful and maybe as helpful as a security, er, lucky,  towel.
Leyva security towel

 American gymnast Danell Leyva and his lucky towel.
--Gaile Robinson

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