Pick me! Even an Olympic Village Needs a Village Idiot

This may come as a shock to you, but I am yet to be selected as a member of Australia’s Olympic Team.  Despite this apparent and egregious snub, I have continued with my demanding training regimen of wearing a tracksuit whenever possible and drinking lots of tea.  I’ve also learned all the words to ‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi’, which means I’ll be an asset when cheering on more talented members of the squad.

Frankly, the team selectors have something of a bias towards picking young, athletic types and barely give middle aged has-beens like me a look in.  Which is a shame, because I have so much to offer.   It’s easy to win medals and break records when the competitors have talent.  If a middle-aged man manages through either divine intervention or, more probably, the process of elimination, to end up on a dais without it constituting a pitch invasion, it deserves not so much a mere ‘congratulations’ as it does a national public holiday.

I’ve never been much of an athlete, but that doesn’t mean I’ve abandoned hope that I could simply be a late bloomer.  Whilst others peak in their twenties, I’ve spent decades biding my time and it can’t be too long before it all falls into place and I clock a sub-ten second one-hundred metre dash. 

In primary school, I remember being shocked when told that we were going to compete in a race by way of a lap around the compound.  It sounded like madness then.  It sounds like madness now.  But some of my classmates seemed not only ready for the challenge but inexplicably enthused.  As the starter’s gun went off, they charged along the fence as I stood wondering whether this was some kind of elaborate practical joke.

Don’t get me wrong – I like to run.  It’s just that the type of running I do has nothing to do whatsoever with speed.  It’s more about being durable and moving forward no matter what.  Suffice to say, last year I was overtaken by someone who was pushing an occupied pram.  But despite the fact that I’m susceptible to being lapped by infants, I’d still be a worthy addition.

If nothing else, I could bring balance to the team.  It’s no good if everyone’s fantastic; you really need a little bit of mediocrity to put the Games, if not life more broadly, into perspective.  I also have plenty of experience.  Not experience that is remotely relevant to competing at the highest level, but experience nonetheless.  Unlike most of the members of the team, I’ll know what to do in the event there’s no internet coverage.  Some athletes have never experienced life without internet, whereas I grew in an age where, if we wanted to see cat videos, we had to get off our backsides and make our own.

I haven’t settled on an event yet.  To be honest, I’m not especially fussy.  That said, the decathlon looks like a lot of hard work for little reward, so I’ll probably give that a miss.  The equestrian events have a certain appeal in that, afterwards, you don’t have to hang around for public transport to get back to the Village.  Sadly, the event that I’ve done the most training for – Pub Trivia – has not yet been recognised by the organising committee as an official Olympic sport.  They don’t know what they’re missing.

On the plus side, Paris will be the very first Olympics to feature competitive break dancing.  This is excellent news.  By my reckoning, I’ve seen ‘Breakdance 2: Electric Boogaloo’ thirty times and know all the moves Special K, Turbo and Ozone used to try and stop their local recreation centre from being demolished by greedy developers.  (Apologies if I should have preceded that with the words ‘spoiler alert’, but I figure if you’ve not bothered to watch ‘Breakdance 2: Electric Boogaloo’ in the last forty years, you probably never will.)

Having moved house in the last twelve months, I have easy access to the one thing every breakdancer needs – cardboard boxes.  Indeed, I’m one quick trip to the shed away from having as much flattened cardboard as anyone could ever need to perform their breaks, pops and spins with confidence.  If that doesn’t get me over the line with the selection committee, I don’t know what will.

I even have my backing track all organised.  I’ll be performing to the golden sounds of ‘Agadoo’ by Black Lace.  Released in 1984, it topped the charts for reasons most likely associated with some kind of clerical error.  Quicker than you can say, ‘push pineapple, shake the tree’, the entire stadium will be enthralled.

It is, of course, possible that I’ve left my run too late.  Much as my dreams of being a member of the Johnny Young Talent Team are now seemingly destined to go unfulfilled, so too does my ambition to be selected to represent the country (and any country would do) at the elite level.  It’s a funny thing to consider all the things that are no longer possible because of the passage of time, even if they were always impossible due to a severe deficit of talent.

When the Olympics roll around in a few months, chances are I’ll be watching them from the couch at home like everyone else.  I will, of course, be dressed in my team tracksuit in a tragic bid to feel part of the action.  And, naturally, the floor will be covered in flattened cardboard boxes so that I can perform a few celebratory breakdance moves in the event the mood should take me.  I will, however, have forgotten the words to ‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi’ by then.  Perhaps that’s for the best.