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Sports | Zooming In

August 1, 2012

Zooming In: Olympics Day Six

Bringing you the top Olympic stories that aren't covered in the USA! USA! USA!

Justin Adler

Zooming In London Olympics 2012

If hyperlocal was the journalism trend of 2011, then hyperinternational is today's hotness. (It's also possible we just made it up.) That's why Gelf Magazine and Deadspin have decided to showcase the best—or at least the most interesting—foreign-produced journalism with our new feature—Zooming In: The Olympic Edition.

Throughout the Games, we’ll comb through hundreds of international news publications to bring you stories and local perspectives that can’t be found stateside. Each day, we'll give you our top five finds, giving you the chance to be as globally cultured as foreign-government-controlled papers permit.

Today we examine Kazakhstan's fight against Borat, a fencer's fight against the federation, and a Chinese journalist's fight against the West.

Former Olympic Hero Is Stranded and Broke in London | Uganda

Davis Kamoga is one of Uganda's most famous Olympic athletes, having won the silver medal in the 400-meter footrace at the 1996 Games. He's such a national hero that Uganda decided to fly him to London so that he could inspire and motivate the Ugandan track-and-field team.

The only problem is that the Ugandan Olympic officials forgot to give him any money.

Kamoga recently spoke to the Ugandan-government-owned newspaper New Vision by phone, and he told the paper that he was already out of money, and needed to be flown back home immediately. According to the article, Kamoga was given an allowance of 30 pounds per day, but was not made an official of the Ugandan Olympic team. Without such accreditation, Kamoga has had a very difficult time getting into the Olympic village or even seeing the athletes that he is supposed to be motivating.

"There is a lot I can do to help the athletes. I see a lot of weaknesses especially in attitude," a tearful Kamoga said on the phone. "Tell the officials I want to come back home," he added.

While he remains in London, he's often seen around the Games village, waiting for officials to take him inside, where he has a soda for lunch.

If you think you can help, or if you just want Ugandan motivation, the article's postscript reads: "Kamoga can be reached on a borrowed line +447424755107."

Lesson learned: Be sure to enjoy your fame while it lasts, Olympic athletes. One day you may find yourself abandoned by your home country in a strange land, having to call a local newspaper in order to beg that you be allowed to return home.

Despite A Strong Showing, Kazakhstan's Struggling To Escape Old Borat Jokes | Kazakhstan

The Kazakhs are having a great Olympics—three gold medals as of this morning, ahead of host Great Britain—and they're looking forward to their favored events of boxing and wrestling. But for all their success, the mood of the national team is downcast, according to a deputy from the delegation that spoke to the Sydney Morning Herald: They just can't escape Borat.

The official, Aslan Amanov, said, "In the village there is absolutely no problem. The sports world knows Kazakhstan, our good side. It is when we go outside it is very disappointing. When you walk around the city sometimes they shout things at you which are not OK. Some were drunk and they were shouting all sorts of words."

The Herald takes the opportunity to remind us of the time that organizers of a shooting championship in Kuwait played the parody Kazakh national anthem (sample lyric: "Come grasp the mighty penis of our leader") instead of the real one.

Kuwaiti organizers messing up and drunken Brits making old jokes notwithstanding, Kazakhstan's investment in athletics appears to be paying off. The central-Asian republic is one of many embattled or traditionally peripheral countries using international athletic competitions to raise their profile, and new training programs and incentives have helped to cultivate a strong delegation.

The Herald details the cash prizes instituted for medal winners from the Kazakh delegation: In US dollars, gold medalists receive a $250,000, silver medalists get $125,000, and bronze medalists win $75,000. Money also is being invested in new infrastructure and equipment.

With a dedication to athletic excellence like that, soon enough Kazakhs will be able to high-five one another without someone yelling "HIGH FIIIIIVE!"

Au Revoir, Canada: Should Four Bronze Medals Lead to Independence? | Canada

It's an election year in Quebec, and as always, there's a small but vocal contingent pushing for the province to declare independence. According to the Canadian Press wire service, one politician is using the Olympic success of Quebecers to argue for her province's sovereignty.

Pauline Marois, candidate for premier and leader of the pro-independence Parti Quebecois, was so elated with Canada's four bronze medals that she said, "This means, among other things, that it's another example of how Quebec could shine among the brightest … as an independent country. We could continue to win our medals, I'm sure of that."

Another Canadian publication was quick to argue that Marois is delusional. "With a leap of arithmetic worthy of Einstein, Marois determined that the four bronzes indicated Quebec could take its place among the nations of the world," David Newman wrote in Maclean's.
"Never mind whether any of the athletes are sovereigntists or separatists or share any of Marois' views whatsoever. Never mind what proportion of their funding was federal, provincial, municipal, personal, or private. The conclusion was obvious for Marois: four bronze equals independence for Quebec."

Right or wrong, if Marois wants to continue with tenuous correlations, she need only look south of her border as the US has earned more total medals (2,549) than Great Britain (737) since declaring its independence in 1776.

Consolation, Shmonsolation: South Korean Fencer Refuses Medal | UK

On Monday, Deadspin covered South Korean fencer Shin A Lam's tearful sit-in after losing a semifinal match to German Britta Heidemann on a controversial call in the final seconds. The last sentence of the piece informed us that Shin will be "denied a medal" after losing the bronze-medal match.

As it turns out, Shin won't score a medal—because she doesn't want one. The medal in question, however, is not Olympic gold, or even bronze. It is an International Fencing Federation (FIE) medal recognizing her "aspiration to win and respect for the rules," reports Agence France-Presse. An FIE spokeswoman told the French newswire that the medal was given because the group "understands the frustration and feelings of the athlete."

Whether or not FIE understands Shin's frustrations and feelings, the fencer has declined to accept what AFP called her "consolation medal." The UK's Guardian newspaper reports that she has opted not to accept the medal, as "it does not make me feel better because it's not an Olympic medal. I don't accept the result because I believe it was a mistake." So much for peace, love and understanding.

East Coast Bias Ain't Nothing Compared to Western Media Bias | China

China's 16-year-old phenom swimmer Ye Shiwen has been hit hard with doping rumors after her two record-breaking gold-medal swims, yet the Chinese media claims this is nothing more than Western partiality.

"Negative comments about her and Chinese athletes come from deep bias and reluctance from the Western press to see Chinese people making breakthroughs," the Global Times opines. "If Ye were an American, the tone would be different in Western media. Michael Phelps won eight gold medals in the 2008 Games. Nobody seems to question the authenticity of his results, most probably because he is American."

Yet as Deadspin pointed out Tuesday, Phelps wasn't smashing records when he was a teenager and the US swim team hasn't had as many doping problems as China has had.

The Global Times believes it's all just a passing phase as China continues to grow, and in the future, once the country's athletes routinely compete with the West, it won't be "a big deal. Doubts will go away eventually."

Let's not count on it.

Kate Bennert, Isaac Rauch, Dan Gartland, Vincent Valk and Tom Ley contributed to this article.

Justin Adler

Justin Adler is a graduate of the University of Arizona. He blogs here.

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Article by Justin Adler

Justin Adler is a graduate of the University of Arizona. He blogs here.

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