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08/10/2012

Writer, Fatter, Slower: Who are you? You're from where?

 Venezula gold medal
 There are athletes who have won an Olympic medal whose homecoming will be reason for a parade and celebrations that last for days. They have won one medal and that medal will be the only one for the country.
   Imagine that America, one medal.
   These  countries don't even rate on the medal board. That bit of jingoistic nose-rubbing only records the embarrassment of riches. Every day either U.S.A. or China is on top, they trade the 1 and 2 positions with regularity. Great Britain and Russia are vying for bronze while Japan and France nibble up the ladder. No other country warrants mention as the count drops precipitously after the leaders. 
   That's wrong.
   The best part of the games is the       Parade for Ruben Limardo Gascon 
panoply of international  participation,
and to negate the wins of individuals from small countries because they don't add to a big tally is inconsistent with the ideals of the games. 
   Over 1,000 medals had been awarded by mid week. Not all of them to the powerhouses. 
   Who are the unsung winnners? Where are they from? Wouldn't it have been nice to see them on the medal stand as they heard their national anthem?
 
Grenada gold   When Kirani James won gold in the men's 400-meter with a time of 43.94 there was dancing in the streets of Grenada. It was the tiny nation's first medal of the XXX Olympiad and the revelries were so raucus Prime Minister Tillman Thomas gave the citizens of Granada the afternoon off, declaring it a national holiday.  James (at left) said, "After I won the medal there was a huge street party after, right afterwards. I saw a couple of videos, a couple of pictures. I mean the streets were packed." 
   It's been a 44-year drought since anyone from Venezuela won a gold medal then their 12th seed  in the men's individual epee, Ruben Limardo Gascon walked away with gold, the country's only medal. Surprise!
   He went home to a parade. Of course.    
 “This medal is for me but I want to share it with everyone in Venezuela because they deserve it," Limardo said. 
   A huge fuss was made when Sanya Richards-Ross crossed the finish line first in the women's 400-meter race, but right behind her, and after an amazing come-from-behind sprint, was silver medalist Amantle Botsho of Botswana. She didn't get much attention for her efforts in London, but she'll be noticed at home, where (to date)she is the only medalist from Botswana.
    Guatemala has been participating in the Olympics since 1952 and finally they have their first medal. Race walker Erick Barrondo will take home a silver. 
  Silver cyprus  Pavlos Kontindes, 22,  (at right) won the first ever Olympic medal for Cypress. He navigated silver in the laser class sailing. His finish was attended by the ladies royal, the Duchess of Cambridge and Princess Ann.
Finland silver medal   A first in sailing was won by Finland's Tuui Petaja (at left) who took silver in the wind surfing event. 
    
   Taking home bronze is not an embarrassment. For some countries it will be the only medal. The third place finisher in Kirani James's gold medal moment, was Trinidaad and Tobago's Lalonde Gordon, like James, he's taking home his country's only medal. He may not generate a national holiday but there will be no shame.  Also proud of  their bronze effort is Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro in tennis, and Ireland's Cain O'Connor (at right) in the equestrian show jumping. Ireland bronze medalTaking home a medal for equestrian effort to horse crazy Ireland is as big a deal in Ireland as the bronze for equestrian show jumping team event is for Saudi Arabia. Saudi Prince Abdullah Al Saud, Kamal Bahamdan, Ramzy Al Duhami, and Abdullah Waleed Sharbatly(at left) have been building an equestrian team and buying up horses since 2009 and an equestrian bronze in the Olympics is considered an overnight success by equestrian standards.
    The men's  beach volleyball bronze winners are from Latvia. Yeah, I know, do they even have beaches in Latvia? Apparently so. The Latvian team of Janis Smedins and Martins Plavins (below) beat the Netherlands for bronze. The Netherlands? Contenders come from unlikely places. So it's good to pay attention and cheer on all the medal winners. 
Bronze latvia
 
These aren't the only medalists who are taking home the solitary medal win for their country, just a few.
   Since we've heard the Star Spangled Banner on many occasions  over the past two weeks, let's hope the next gold medal winner from one of the Stans, an island state, or some protectorate gets their moment on the podium televised. Their countries are so proud.
  
--Gaile Robinson

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