The Canadian Olympic Preparation Team was stunned by the announcement. All around the facility, athletes were about to get word that their sports were being systematically eliminated from the Olympic Program.
It was Dave Singleton’s unfortunate responsibility to pass the word on to all individuals affected and he started off what would be a long day and horrible job early in the morning by taking a walk over to the docks where the motor boatists would be the first to learn of their fate.
“Hey guys,” he said to the five-man crew who were stroking the boats motor. “Engine troubles?”
“You know how it is Dave,” said the captain Ted Smiley. “She gets a little nervous when she knows the Olympics are near. But she’s a well trained engine and she’ll get it together in the next couple of weeks no problem.”
Oh how this was going to hurt.
“About that boys,” said Dave solemnly. “For some reason, the Olympic Organizing Committee has deemed motor boating a non-athletic pursuit and is removing it from the Olympic Program effective immediately. There will be no Olympics for that motor. I’m so sorry.”
"That’s pure hogwash!” said Ted Smiley, who was now frowning. “We’ve worked too hard for too long to see our dreams disappear because the OOC doesn’t think our motor has any athletic merits.”
“You don’t have to convince me guys, I know how hard you guys pull on the string that starts the motor.”
“Actually, we just press a button now, but we still need to prime the engine before we press it.”
“Exactly. I’m looking into what criteria they used to distinguish between athletic and non-athletic events. I mean the marathon is still in there and they just run in a straight line.”
“The marathon stayed! Christ Dave you got to figure this out.”
“I’ll do what I can Ted, in the meantime, keep smiling.”
If Dave thought that was going to be the hardest thing he’d ever done, he had forgotten how enthusiastic his live pigeon shooters were about winning a gold medal.
“Hey Claude, how’re the pigeons dying today?’ he asked Claude Contênt, afraid to break the news, knowing how sour it would make him.
“Oh, they die nice today. You see over there, it blow up entirely. And over there, it lose its head, ha ha ha ha,” he said, pointing at all the pigeon carcasses around the training facility.
“Wow, they’re really dead Claude, great job. But I have some bad news for you. I want to preface it by saying nobody is telling you that you can’t kill pigeons anymore, but you won’t be killing the as part of the Olympics — they’ve removed your sport entirely. I’m so sorry.”
“No killing pigeons! Why it is an outrage! Who does the killing of pigeons from now on?”
“Well like I said, you can still kill the pigeons, just not for a medal.”
“I cannot get the medal at the Olympics but I can kill the pigeons on my own? Is this what I am being told?”
“Yes Claude, I’ve been told that Pigeon Shooting doesn’t meet the athletic standards for the Olympic Organizing Committee.”
“Oh, I does not care about the medal. I just like to kill the pigeon. Watch this one, bam, bam to the fat stomach,” he said firing at a pigeon not yet released from the cage.
“Oh, Ok then, I’m glad you are still content with killing the pigeons Claude Contênt, I’m going to go now,” said Dave, almost wishing that Claude had been angry.
The pigeon killing had him a little on edge as he approached the Duelling Pistol paddock.
Sarah Joy was already on her tenth mannequin of the day, having obliterated the other nine in proper duel fashion, Dave hung back and watched as she stood shoulders facing the dummy, fingertips lightly resting on her holster, waiting pertinently for the clock tower to sing out the top of the hour. With a ding, dong, she pulled out her pistol and calmly fired two shots into the moustachioed mannequins chest before re-holstering her pistol.
“Well done,” Dave called from behind her. “Well done indeed. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to do that at the Olympic Games this year my dear. It seems the Olympic Organizing Committee has deemed Duelling Pistols unsuitable for the modern Games.”
A rat-a-tat from her guns was all the answer Dave needed, but Sarah also used words to express discontent.
“Think carefully Dave, why is my sport being taken away?” she asked while pointing the pistol at his temple.
“They said the mannequins are unable to defend themselves and it doesn’t translate well to television because of that. Also, they told me you didn’t need to be athletic to do it.”
Sarah Joy thought long and thought hard about this response, her sorrow clouding her thoughts.
“What about the marathoners, did they get it as well?”
“Well no, they were allowed to continue.”
“Ah, fuck that all they do is run in a straight line,’ she screamed and unloaded another clip into the mannequin.
“I know, I’m so sorry, but I have to go tell the one-armed weightlifter and he’s gonna be pissed.”
Dave was adamant about staying on Igor Love’s left, non-one-armed weightlifting, side. If he somehow lost focus and ended up on the side of the crush-capable right side he would be in a very large amount of trouble.
“Can I speak to you for a moment Igor?” he asked, turning with the big-armed man to stay out of reach. “I’ve got some unfortunate news for you.”
“Talk man. Tell bad news.”
“Ok Igor, you’ve inflated the size of your right arm for no reason — your shot at Olympic glory has been taken away by the Olympic Organizing Committee who says you one-armed weightlifters are all disproportioned freaks.”
“Igor freak? You stand there. Igor move to other side,” said the half-giant, trying to position himself to better intimidate the smaller, but more naturally proportioned Dave.
“No, no Igor, I want to keep telling this to your face so I’ll just keep spinning like this, that’s no problem. I want you to know the marathoners are still in the Olympics so maybe you can get on their good side and talk to them about getting your sport back in the Games for next time.”
“Marathoners run straight line. Igor lift heavy objects with one hand. Not fair.”
“No, it’s not fair Igor and I feel terrible about it but there’s simply nothing that can be done — the Olympics have been taken away from the true athletes like yourself and been given to lesser people like the aforementioned marathoners, as well as the decathletes.”
“I’m so sorry Igor Love.”
And that was it for the Canadian athletes — at least for the ones Dave had to tell they were losing their shot at glory.
The rest of the people on his list were all on the other end of the spectrum — athletes from non-Olympic sports who were now being given an invitation to the big stage. For the most part, Dave disagreed of the OOCs decisions — rowing, cycling, and the long jump were hardly sports in his mind, but he had no choice but to support them.
So long my dear athletes of sports now abandoned, he would later write in a letter to his former trainees. I will never forget the smiles, the contentedness, the joy, or the love you showed me. Perhaps some day we will meet again. Maybe we can form a circus — yes a circus would profile your athletic prowess just fine.
Anyway, the OOC will feel pretty stupid when they see these so-called athletes on television — and the public reaction will be so drole! Their weightlifters use two hands and not one of their boaters is even half as fast as our motor boatists — not even the sailors! And you should see the amount of pigeons here! They poop on everything and nobody does a thing!
Your talents might be required after all Sarah — to put them all out of their misery when they realize nobody cares about the Games any more!
Well I’m off to dine with the presidents and prime ministers of all the countries in the world, hope you guys are still pursuing your dreams.