It’s a strange thing about high-profile sporting events. They bring out the athlete in even the most unathletic of us. During Wimbledon fortnight, the normally deserted tennis courts in the local park are packed with Federer wannabes; driving back from a Grand Prix, drivers of Ford Fiestas morph into Jenson Button; and while the World Cup is on, everyone kicks random household objects around the kitchen and becomes temporarily expert on the offside rule.
During the Olympics, of course, there’s a much bigger menu of sports to choose from, and during those 16 days, not to mention the previous 70 days of torch relay, it becomes impossible not to see everybody in an Olympic (torch)light.
Especially — since this is our particular mindset– travelers.
So, how many of these Olympic travelers do you recognize?
The Greco-Roman Wrestler
Greco-Roman Wrestling — so-called because of its purported similarity to the wrestling at the ancient Greek Olympics, which lends dignity to an otherwise extremely undignified sport.
Greco-Roman Wrestling Travelers, while not engaging in unseemly public bear hugs and takedowns, are often found at locations of ancient ruins, fighting to hold down folding maps, and heaving around 30-pound guide books. Instead of wrestling headgear and ear guards, they wear sets of headphones, plugged into their audio tour devices.
Matches with other GRWTs are strictly intellectual, based on the Intellectual One-Upmanship system, and wins are determined only by Technical Superiority.
The Synchro Swimmer
Synchro swimming is the only sport where it’s obligatory to wear quantities of makeup that make Dame Edna Everage‘s layers of face paint seem subtle. While regular makeup is dubiously acceptable in figure skating, this caked-on paint job is ridiculous in an aquatic sport.
The Synchro Traveler is invariably female, and insists on dressing up to the nines no matter how unsuitable for the circumstances.
Hiking boots and backpack for an all-day trek along the Great Wall of China?
No thank you, darling. Louboutins and this divine little Prada clutch will be just fine.
The Rugby Player
Rugby needs no introduction, unless it’s to spout that old joke about it being a game played by men with funny-shaped…but never mind.
The Rugby Traveler — actually, what am I talking about? There is no such thing as a Rugby Traveler Singular. They travel in packs. They also drink lots of beer, sing patriotic songs (out of tune, at 1 a.m.) and do manly guy-things together.
Usually found in their natural habitats of Ibiza and Cancun, hunting for females.
The Modern Pentathlon is a series of five events: pistol shooting, fencing, freestyle swimming, show jumping, and cross-country running. It’s athletics for the overachiever.
In traveling terms, the Pentathlete Traveler is the vacationer who will bore you for hours with their elaborate plans to see everything in Fodor’s Guide to Europe in ten days, traveling variously by airplane, train, helicopter, ferry, and pack mule.
Upon their return from said vacation, be prepared to sit through interminable soirees of home videos, accompanied by some marvelous duty-free Chianti Riserva all the way from Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport.
Don’t spoil their fun by telling them the same stuff was on special offer at the local wine shop while they were away.
Archery: the art of firing arrows from a bow. Requires great concentration and accuracy if you don’t want to poke someone’s eye out (see: King Harold, Hastings, 14th October 1066.)
As far as traveling goes, The Archer knows what he wants, where he wants to go, and how to get there. Easily spotted in airports, Archers are the ones pushing past you on the moving walkway so they get to the end before anyone else does.
They are expert, seasoned travelers and know the layout of every major international airport. Because of this, they are blasé about the arrive-two-hours-before-flight-time rule.
When the flight attendant at the boarding gate pages them by name — that’s more than time enough for The Archer.
Image: “Athletics On The Line” by hin255/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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Graham is definitely an Archer! As for me, I think the Olympic sport for me would have to be Weightlifting. Despite doing so much travel I still have not learned the art of packing light lol!!! I always pack way too much stuff and getting my carry on in to the overhead bin on the plane is medal worthy!! Great piece Kate!
Lol…it’s expensive these days to be a weightlifter, Lynn! And yeah…I know an Archer, too 😀 They are wonderful to travel with!