Saturday, July 28, 2012

Retirement Pleasures — Olympics for Retirees

The summer Olympics kicked off this weekend. Not surprisingly, this had me looking into what events exist expressly for retirees’ participation. Many of them will be familiar to you, as they are variations on regular Olympic events. I expect that some of them will catch you off guard. All promise to be compelling spectator sports.

Name That Country

One of the staples of Olympic TV coverage is the parade of nations at the opening ceremony. You’d think the list of countries would be predictable, at least for each season (from one summer games to the next, from one winter to the next). It turns out there are new nations for virtually every Olympics. The Name That Country event challenges retirees to pair each country’s name from the 1950’s or earlier with its name in the current Olympics. If you know what happened to Dahomey, Affars and Issas, and Dutch Guiana, you could be a medalist in Name That Country.

1 Kilometer Tricycle

The 1 kilometer tricyle race has been designed especially for retirees. Riders go two and a half times around the track and field oval. It’s their own job to keep count of how many times they’ve pedaled around. (Good luck with that.) If you can maintain your balance through the curves, you have a good chance of winning this highly-competitive Olympic event. Crash helmets and knee pads are required gear.

100 Meter Shuffle Walk

Similar to race walking, but less physically demanding, the shuffle walk is just what it sounds like. Competitors must shuffle the full distance of the race. The soles of their feet may not leave the ground at any time during the event. Oh, one other thing. Athletes must wear bedroom slippers for the shuffle walk.

25 Meter Doggy Paddle

This is a swimming contest geared to the cardio-vascular limitations of most retirees. The 25 meter doggy paddle prohibits swimmers from using any of the strokes in regular Olympic swimming events. That means no breaststroke, no Australian crawl, no butterfly, no backstroke. Just the tried-and-true doggy paddle. Bow wow.

Gymnastics Barrel Roll

In this gymnastics event, you lie prone and roll diagonally from one corner of the mat to the other. Scoring is based primarily on the quickest time, but you do earn extra points for rolling style. Generally, those shaped most like a barrel have the best success with this event.

Swimwear Attire Challenge

This event is new to the 2012 Olympics for Retirees. It tests the athlete’s ability to get into and out of a wet, full-body racing suit. You know, those sleek, Lycra unitards that leave nothing to the imagination about the wearer’s personal gear. Any woman who has tried to get back into her wet, one-piece suit after using the rest room at the pool can appreciate how demanding this event will be.

Slide ‘N’ Splash

This favorite of aquatics buffs is patterned after the old cannonball diving event. It awards medals to the swimmers who make the biggest splash after coming down the slide into the pool. There is absolutely no credit given for style. However, you do receive extra points for each spectator sitting poolside whom you are able to soak with your splash landing.

Members of the British Commonwealth

This event is similar to the Name That Country one. There are 54 members in the Commonwealth of Nations (formerly known as the British Commonwealth). These are not to be confused with British and Commonwealth protectorates, which in turn are not to be confused with protected states. Or are they? In this rapid-fire nation-claiming event, contestants must lift either a Union Jack flag (if the country is a member of the Commonwealth), a plain yellow flag (former protectorate) or a white one (former protected state). You can also wave the white flag if you give up.

As you can see, there’s a wide range of summer Olympic events for retirees. Check your local listings or cable schedules to see which are being covered on TV. Unfortunately for those of you reading this post from London (including my dear friend the Fly Italian Fox), tickets to all these events were sold out months ago. Not to worry. There’s always four years from now. And who knows what I might unearth for the winter games…

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