Gelf Magazine - Looking over the overlooked

Sports | Zooming In

August 8, 2012

Zooming In: Olympics Day Thirteen

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 dive into North Korea's I'm-not-stupid-you're-stupid defense, Bolt's back and Cameroonians who ran for gold away.

North Korea Is Gonna Find Out Who’s Naughty or Nice | North Korea

The contest may not be formally recognized by the IOC, but North Korea and Australia are going for gold in the event of childish name calling.

On Wednesday the tiny Australian paper mX published an Olympic infographic in which they listed South Korea as "Nice Korea," and North Korea as "Naughty Korea." North Korea, which does not take kindly to derision, responded this morning with an English dispatch from North Korea's Central News Agency.

"This is a bullying act little short of insulting the Olympic spirit of solidarity, friendship and progress, and politicizing sports," Norh Korea began, before sinking to the Aussie paper's level. The KCNA continued that the "naughty paper" will remain as "a symbol of a rogue paper" for its "misdeed to be cursed long in Olympic history."

mX’s Sydney-based editor Craig Herbert told Wall Street Journal Asia, "The two teams (South Korea and North Korea) were sitting in fourth and fifth spot respectively on the medal ladder and we thought it would be a humorous, but harmless way of differentiating between the two, and a reflection on how much of the western world views the two countries."

Today mX published KCNA's response with a front-page headline that reads, "N. Korea launches missive. (… That's missive)."

Bavarian Medal Works: Deutsche Doctor Aides Bolt | Germany

Here’s something you might not know about Usain Bolt's 100m gold medal: it’s not simply a Jamaican honor. “A piece of this medal goes to Germany,” said the world’s fastest man, explaining that the Bavarian doctor who successfully treated his ailing back this year deserves part of the credit.

According to The Local, Bolt took time out from his various lightning poses to heap praise on the good doctor Hans-Wilhelm Müller-Wohlfahrt whom Bolt has nicknamed “Mull”. (With so many tantalizing syllables to work with, we can think of several better nicknames for the man, but no matter.)

"He's the best doctor in the world," Bolt added. "The doctor is a great, great man. Thanks, doctor!"

Müller-Wohlfahrt has made waves by using controversial techniques to treat a variety of celebrities, including Bono and Ronaldo. Among the tools in his arsenal: a substance called Hyalart, extracted from the crest of cockerels, that he uses to lubricate joints.

One athlete he didn’t treat is Kobe Bryant, who went to a different German doc for his knee treatment. That therapy, called Regenokine, was performed by Dr. Peter Wehling, who centrifuged Kobe’s blood and then reinjected it into him in what appears to be a successful attempt to stave off the arthritic pain that was plaguing the five-time NBA champ.

Germany may not have the athletes to seriously compete for sprinting or basketball medals, but at least its countrymen can take pride in the fact that their scientists are helping to extend the careers of those athletes who can.

Dismayed Israel Isn't Having Much Fun | Israel

Israel's sense of national shame over their failure at this Olympiad is splashed all over their sports pages. Yesterday brought an editorial titled, "Don't forget to tell them off, Lee," which argued that, though Lee Korzits seemed likely to medal in women's windsurfing, she ought not to forget to use her moment in the sun to speak her mind to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres.

Hareetz’s Eyal Gil argues, "A medal today would whitewash years of neglect and hostility toward sports, failed management and disgraceful budgets. For 20 years, select branches of sport have overcome these incredible obstacles and pitfalls and against all odds won honor for Israel where it was undeserved … Israel's Olympic athletes train in intolerable conditions. They survive on minimal stipends. They either have to subsidize costs out of pocket or find a generous patron. Along the way, the State of Israel—its government, Sports Ministry and sports associations—spends its time undermining and humiliating them."

Haaretz may have been gratified to see that Korzits finished sixth in her event. (The Jerusalem Post went with the sub-head, "Nightmarish 9th in decisive medal race leaves last Israeli hope with 6th-place finish.")

Today, there's another editorial: "Faster, higher, stronger? Not for Israel." Uzi Dan writes, "The Israeli failure is comprehensive … If success in sports really matters to Israel, we need a revolution. Not only in budgets, but first and foremost in education. Israel can't boast about its sports education. The old Hapoel slogan—a pun in Hebrew—was "from thousands to champions." This expressed the belief that if a sport was practiced by the masses, champions would emerge. Nowadays, we invest in those precious few who have already made it to the top. Maybe Israel should invest in thousands of children instead of a few dozen prodigies." Both pieces profess a desire for a revolution in sports training.

Olympians Flee Village for Chance at Better Lives | Cameroon

Seven Olympic athletes from the African nation of Cameroon have vanished from the Olympic village. Their disappearance was confirmed yesterday by the country's Ministry of Sports and Physical Education.

According to Vanguard, mission head David Ojon sent the following message to the ministry: "What began as rumour has finally turned out to be true. Seven Cameroonian athletes who participated at the 2012 London Olympic Games have disappeared from the Olympic Village."

The athletes who have gone missing are five members of the Olympic boxing team, a swimmer, and the goalie for the women's soccer team. Drusille Ngako, the soccer player, was the first to vanish, leaving her team just before a pre-Olympic match against New Zealand. The swimmer, Paul Ekane Edingue, left his team a few days later. The five boxers disappeared more recently, leaving the Olympic village after having all been eliminated from competition.

According to Vanguard, the most likely explanation for these athletes' disappearance is economic reasons. They are hoping to stay in Europe and find a better life for themselves rather than returning to Cameroon. This is not the first time that Cameroonian athletes have defected in such a way. Competitors have disappeared without warning before at past Francophine and Commonwealth games, as well as junior soccer tournaments.

Kayakers Paddle for Pops | Canada

On top of competing for their country, Canadian siblings Hughes and Emilie Fournel are kayaking in honor of their late father Jean, a kayaker at the 1976 Games, who died of leukemia at age 40.

“We paddle on emotions,” Emilie told the Globe and Mail. “That’s the kind of paddlers we are. We paddle from the heart. That’s why I like racing the 500 metres because it’s a gutsy race and it’s power, power, power and at the end it’s all guts. I just think it’s part of us. It’s the way we grew up. For us it’s a way of living, I guess.”

Emilie and Hughes didn’t record very good times in Monday and Tuesday’s preliminaries, so a medal might be a longshot, but the experience of competing together is enough of a reward.

“I was telling my brother, it’s like we’re creating a memory with him without him being here, which is pretty special,” Emilie said. “Not many people get to experience something like that. That’s why we appreciate this moment. We know he’s up there somewhere, looking down.”

Kate Bennert, Isaac Rauch, Dan Gartland, David Goldenberg 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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