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In search of my Olympic event

Undoubtedly, this year’s summer Olympics will be remembered for the human fish, swimmer Michael Phelps, and his unprecedented eight gold medals and almost as many world records in one of the most dominating sporting feats in the history of mankind.
But as I watched some of the races in highlights and online ‘ and figuring that even though Phelps now has a bazillion gold medals, yet still won’t share any with me ‘ I thought about how cool it would be to have an Olympic medal of my own.
On a whim, I cranked up the Internet and started researching what sports an overweight, 37-year-old might be able to realistically shoot for when the next games roll around in 2012 in London.
Using the 2008 games in Beijing as a guide, 28 sports (302 events) give me plenty of options to choose from.
Well, almost.
I’m a lover, not a fighter, so anything resembling violence of any kind ‘ boxing, tae kwon do, wrestling, shooting, judo, fencing ‘ was thrown out.
While fat floats, I’m not that great of a swimmer, so that eliminated water polo, swimming and synchronized swimming. Several other events are played out on water, including canoeing, rowing, sailing and triathlon, so they were nixed.
Diving was tossed out the window, too. Me in a Speedo, jumping off what amounts to a two-story building? I get wobbly-legged toeing the edge of a kiddie pool, so there’s no way I’m diving off a perfectly good structure into water unless said structure ‘ or me ‘ is on fire.
Since I’ve only shot a bow and arrow a couple of times (usually losing the arrow), archery is a no-go, too.
With only one season of T-ball under my belt, and a losing effort to try and make the freshman hoops team at my alma mater, Clarksville High, baseball and basketball are eliminated.
Equestrian events? I don’t own a horse and, truthfully, the last time I rode one he spun me around in circles and threw me off. Needless to say, I didn’t put another quarter in that merry-go-round.
Several remaining events just aren’t my cup of tea.
Cycling? Last time I rode was inside Wal-Mart as I did a test drive of an adult bike.
Field hockey? I thought it was only for girls but apparently guys play, too. Still, no experience, so no attempt.
Football? We call that soccer here, and besides that, the clock goes the wrong way.
Gymnastics? Don’t like the uniforms.
Softball? Only for women.
Tennis and table tennis? Only on my Wii video game system.
Volleyball? Not tall enough.
Weightlifting? Do quarter-pounders count?
Most track events require speed, but this is 2008 and not 1988, so my 100-meter dash times could be clocked with a sundial instead of a stopwatch.
That pretty much leaves the door open for three events: Badminton (love to play it in the backyard, and the U.S. only sent four competitors this year), team handball (a cross between basketball and soccer, and the U.S. didn’t even field a team) and race walking (completely opposite of how my wife shops, I do this anytime I hit the mall searching for Christmas gifts).
Of those three, I’m throwing out handball. It’s just too obscure of a sport, especially in Southern Indiana.
Keeping the stakes for the net in the ground and the shuttlecocks from going through the strings in the racquet has always been a problem for me, so bye-bye badminton, too.
The Olympic standard for the 20k race walk is 1:23:00, meaning I’ll have to crank out a lap every 1:40 on a 400-meter track, for 50 laps. For the 50k race walk, the standard is four hours even (125 laps, about one every 1:50).
Sounds feasible.
Next week, I’ll let you know how my training is going.