Spent part of the day at the weightlifting competition, and came away with this thought:
There are some pretty weird guys in this sport. One is Almir Velagic of Germany. Big Al likes to bark as he enters the competition area, a sound that falls somewhere between a Shih Tzu and a Doberman.
He barks once and then yells something in German and then barks again. He reminds me of Sgt. Schultz of “Hogan’s Heroes,” only this guy wears a one-piece bathing suit and no helmet.
But it must work. Big Al finished second in his morning session of super heavyweights, remaining in medal contention by jacking up nearly 925 pounds in two lifts.
If I had any doubts whether ol’ Almir was the real deal, members of the German press confirmed his stature by cheering loudly each time he converted a lift.
It got me thinking about how non-American journalists have responded to their national teams here this week. Or, in truth, fawned over them.
I wonder if writers from other countries notice those from the United States don’t have heart attacks or jump into each other’s arms every time Team USA whacks someone by 40 or Michael Phelps bites into a gold medal.
It is obvious those reporting from other countries are a far more adoring bunch and, at an event such as the Olympics, embrace a nationalistic sentiment that perhaps us jaded scribes from the U.S. lost long ago.
Either way, here is an unofficial poll of which nations (and a continent) comprise the biggest homer reporters in Beijing:
1. Italy — No one has a passion for life like this nation and no one can celebrate a bronze medal in laser sailing like those covering it. You would have thought Da Vinci stopped by the Main Press Center to give away original works.
2. Serbia — The nation has two medals so far, one each in swimming and tennis. But by the way its media reacts each time a Serbian athlete is shown competing, you would swear that whole independent state thing happened all over again.
3. South America — Do I even need to explain the level of passion here? Any more medals from this region, and the Main Press Center is suddenly going to be slapped with an R rating.
Honorable mention — Germany and Cuba.
Add honorable mention — It is 1:02 a.m. local time and there is a reporter across from me right now shouting, “Argentina! Argentina!” Looking at his media credential, it appears his name is Evan Peron.