With the games of the 2004 Athens Olympiad well underway we at the Woolamaloo Gazette – official sponsor of the Marsupial Olympic Squad – thought it was time to update our readers on the state of play. Friday’s stunning opening ceremony set the stage for this return to the Game’s ancient homeland. Actors, musicians and dancers re-enacted many of the aspects of Greek culture, from the ancient period – sculpture, democracy, leaving unwanted babies to die on hillsides – through to more modern times, culminating in a bunch of paunchy, middle-aged men drinking five bottles of Ouzo then dancing on the tabletops to the strains of Zorba the Greek while seducing foolish and drunken British female tourists (Shirley Valentine, we’re talking about you, you slapper!).
As the Games get into their stride this week we realise our readers will want to know who the hot favourites are. As the other world media are already covering the major tournaments in great detail – especially the BBC with their ‘interactive’ coverage, which allows you to press the red button on your digital remote to check on the drugs testing of any contestant – we at the Gazette thought we would give you the low-down on some of the less well-known events.
Wednesday sees the Salted Herring Hurling heats. The previous world record for hurling a salted herring was set at the 1996 Olympics with Hauver Grundkinson of Bergen, Norway successfully throwing the herring some 23 metres. Nils Borgen of Denmark did manage a throw of 24 metres, but failed a drugs test afterwards when he was found to be sucking on a Fishermen’s Friend (an old sailor’s trick, popular with seamen) and was disqualified. This year’s Danish team is much weaker than before and it is thought that the only real challengers to the Norwegian’s attempts at herring Gold are the Icelanders. Meanwhile the Danish team are still thought to be the hot tip to win the Lego freestyle construction tournament. The Norwegians and Swedish teams will go head-to-head for the Raiding, Burning and Pillaging events, with most experts claiming it is too close to call this year.
The Haggis Hunt first became an Olympic sport ten games previously and has never been won by anyone other than the Scottish members of Team GB, although competition has been growing in recent Games. The wild Haggis is released over a form of steeplechase-like racetrack while the team of four hunters pursue it, stun it and capture it using only hand-woven netting made from thistles (most teams wear gloves, the Scots are too macho too do so, or perhaps just too tight to buy the gloves) and throwing heavy, shaped stones which evolved from Curling stones (this is another reason why the Scots are so good at this sport). Their main rivals this year are the Canadian team, who are also favourites for the 50-metre Otter Race.
The Spiff-smoking events are often the domain of the team from the Netherlands. With large government support for the sport in Holland the Netherlands team – Lurgen, Rolf and Papa Smurf – are easily the best equipped and trained team of tokers on the planet, although the US team’s Californian reefer merchants – Dude, Big Dave and Lili – may well surprise the complacent Dutch team. The Jamacian team are likely to be too stoned to turn up once more.
The tea-drinking championships this year are already underway with Team GB, China, India and Russia all through to the semi-finals. The French team were disqualified for drinking from bowls instead of regulation China cups and Team USA lost humiliatingly early in the tournament due to the fact that they simply don’t know how to make tea.
On the track and field front the kangaroos of the Marsupial team are hot favourites for the hop, skip and jump event and long jump event while the koalas should reach for Gold glory in the Climbing and Eating Leaves event. This may well humiliate the sports-loving Australians they share their continent with, but as they stole the marsupials land and kill many of them (giving rise to the KLF or Kangaroo Liberation Front) most of our pouched brethren will view this as a bonus and extra incentive to go for gold. We at the Gazette salute our marsupial cousins and wish their plucky team the best of luck, although realistically we don’t expect too much from the koalas in the javelin events. Still, they will likely do better than Team Antarctica; their plucky penguins may have taken gold at the belly-toboggan slide and the Orcas at the seal-tossing, but they are really more of a winter Olympics squad and will struggle in the blistering heat of Athens (most of the penguins have done little so far apart from sit around the pool in Hawaiian shirts drinking ice-cold margaritas.
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