Slashing, Stabbing, Shooting and…Racewalking?

I’ve enjoyed the Olympics as much as anyone else over the years but it has held a particular place in the hearts of my wife and I. That first year we didn’t even have internet let alone any form of cable package. Reading can only take you so far sometimes and when the Beijing Olympics started, we were on top of everything. For two weeks we finally had something to watch.

Like most others, we saw a whole lot of swimming, gymnastics, track and field, etc. There are just certain events in the Olympics that take center stage, with the rest shunted off to late night broadcasts or less prominent cable channels. Every once in a while you catch a highlight reel from some of the lesser publicized events. but otherwise they stick to the reliable events.

There have been a few events I have always wanted to watch and somehow never gotten to see. Archery and Fencing were the big ones, as well as anything involving a gun. This year, I don’t know if I am better at catching this stuff or if some of the second/third/fourth tier events are just getting better airtime. I’ve caught various types of fencing (didn’t know there were various types of fencing) as well as several archery and skeet/target shooting matches. Archery and target/skeet shooting are pretty much what I always expected them to be. Folks shoot at targets and the most accurate wins, little debate over that.

But fencing, man, fencing is fucking insane.

Before I explain that, please note, I mean no disrespect. Insanity is often times the surest sign I might enjoy something. A lot of the events are essentially things we’ve been doing for as long as we’ve been walking.


Anyway, a lot of the other events are just refined activities we’ve always done. Running, swimming, hunting, etc. Then you have more modern events, such as shooting and things like the x game styled events. Fencing fits interestingly in the middle as something we’ve been doing long enough that it’s not modern but not so long that is primal. Fencing was a martial training that steadily evolved into a game, with more and more intricate rules to emphasize the metagame. Watching the bouts, I have very little idea what the hell is going on. Every single flashing light results in people acting like they won the whole damn thing, withi guys in ugly green jackets yelling in french for them to calm down. The announcers are the usual mix of a) emphasizing every self evident action taken and b) not explaining anything.

It’s great!


But the real kicker, and what really makes this so much fun, is the intensity.

I would say people in the Olympics are generally pretty reserved emotionally until it comes time for their real medaling performances. All the bouts or meets or whatever are generally brushed off, with each step being taken pretty nonchalantly until the culmination of all of those steps and they either win or lose or move on. With Fencing, at least the ones I am watching, they are going to 15 and each and every hit seems like they just won a friggin medal. I’ve seen guys whipping their masks off half way through, just, cause, why not?

I’ll finish with this tangent. I talked about most of the events being things we’ve always done, well, racewalking is a fucking thing. This is not a good insanity. I thought that was a joke and this is all I can picture.



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