An unnamed British man was so inspired by the Olympics on Tuesday that he decided to attempt to swim across the Atlantic Ocean. He had planned to swim from Biarritz, France, where he was vacationing with friends, to New York City, saying he wanted to bring the “Olympic spirit” to America. He didn’t make it far, however, as lifeguards picked him up about 300 yards from shore, well short of the 3594 miles he would have needed to cover to reach his destination.
According to the Daily Mail, the 34-year-old man was vacationing with friends when he suddenly announced that he was setting off for America. His travel companions, thinking he was joking, watched as he immediately dove into the water and began swimming out into the ocean, continuing well past warning buoys that mark the limit for safe and legal swimming.
Those buoys are located about 300 yards from shore, which prompted lifeguards to scramble into action. A rescue helicopter was dispatched and a diver dropped into the water to convince the man to turn back. The headstrong Brit argued that he was a good swimmer and that he was capable of making an Atlantic crossing, but eventually he came to his senses and climbed aboard a small boat to return to shore.
Thankfully, the Olympics only come around once every four years. I’m not sure if this man’s friends and family could handle him getting inspired like this on a regular basis.
As a sports fanatic and traveler who’s always been fascinated by the intersection of nationalism and sport, I never miss the Parade of Nations during the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games. It’s a little like a quick stroll around the world in that you get a look at athletes from 204 countries around the globe.
You can tell a lot about a country based on how their athletes dress and the way they carry themselves. It’s also a gas to listen to the broadcasters as they try to find something interesting to say about each country and their contingent. In case you missed the parade last night, here are some of the highlights and lowlights.
Andorra’s Old Geezer- Costas took comfort in noting that Joan Tomàs Roca, a 61-year-old sports shooter who served as Andorra’s flag bearer is a year older than he is. But I don’t think Roca’s had nearly as much work done.Coolest Hats- Congratulations to the Olympic contingent from Lesotho, which clearly had the best hats of the evening. Their conical, pointy bamboo hats made them look a bit like Vietnamese rice farmers.
Most Ridiculous Hats: The group from Belize was wearing the kind of hats you’d see on a carnival barker. Why?
Ignominious Distinction: As the athletes from poor Bangladesh entered the stadium, Costas informed American viewers that Bangladesh is the largest country never to win an Olympic medal as their athletes snapped photos and waved to the crowd. Woo-hoo! Now there’s something to shout about.
Most Colorful Robes- When the Cameroonian athletes were introduced, I nearly had to adjust my television set. They wore blinding, black and red robes with almost every color of the rainbow thrown in somewhere. An “A” for effort.
You Wore What? They were only on my screen for a matter of seconds, but I swear the Chilean contingent looked like extras from Zorro the Gay Blade.
Inane Commentary Part 1- Croatia’s flag bearer was a handball goalkeeper, prompting Matt Lauer to make one of the evening’s dumbest remarks.
“Handball – this is a sport that doesn’t have a great foothold in the U.S., but if you’re looking to get an Olympic medal, this would be a good sport to take up,” he said, seemingly at least half serious.
Right, the sport isn’t popular here, so go ahead and take it up, you’ll be sure to get an Olympic medal in it.
Um, We Have Nothing Whatsoever to Say About These Countries- Costas and Lauer had something to say about almost every country but in a few cases they just said the name of the country and nothing else. Surely, the Republic of Congo, Cote D’Ivoire and the other snubbed countries are seething this morning.
Smile!- I wasn’t surprised that the athletes from North Korea weren’t smiling, (you’d be grimacing if you lived there too) but why did the flag bearers from Cape Verde and Armenia look like they were ready to kill someone? I guess they had their game faces on.
A Dig on Badminton and the Danes- Costas introduced the Danish team by mentioning that they were the best non-Asian nation at Badminton. Hmmmm. That probably ranks right up there with being the best at table tennis, excluding the Chinese. And after that ignominious distinction, Costas couldn’t resist a dig at the sport writ large.
“And if you’re looking for badminton coverage, and who isn’t, you can find it on nbcolympics.com,” he said.
Nice Boots!- The Czech team was decked out in some snazzy bright blue rubber rain boots, in a nice dig at the notoriously crap English weather.
Please Drug Test the Independent Olympic Athletes Contingent- There were four “stateless” athletes who came out under the Independent Olympic Athletes grouping and they all clearly looked like they were on something. A blonde from The Netherlands Antilles was jumping around more than an extra in a House of Pain video.
Did George Washington Sire Any Children in Palau?- If anyone can explain to me why Palau’s flag bearer was wearing what appeared to be a colonial-era wig, please let me know in the comments section.
Give That Man a Meal- Mike Tebulo, a marathon runner who served as Malawi’s flag bearer looked like he weighs about 100 pounds. (And according to his bio, he’s actually 119 lbs!)
Coolest Headcovering- Zamzam Mohamed Farah, a track athlete who was Somalia’s flag bearer, wore a power blue head-covering with a big star on her forehead. Without knowing what the cultural significance of this outfit is, I can only say that I thought it was the most badass costume of the night.
Giving Nauru a Break- Lauer mentioned that Nauru had the smallest Olympic delegation but failed to mention that it’s the fattest country in the world.
Ugliest Shirts- OK, Togo, I’m talking to you here. What was up with the garish, gold floral patterned shirts?
Shiny, Happy Spaniards- As I said from the outset, you can tell a lot about a country based upon how its athletes carry themselves and the Spaniards looked like they’d just come from a bar, befitting their nation’s late night party ethos.
Cheer Up Eritrea- So perhaps the Eritrean team has no chance at winning any medals, but why were they so dour looking? Was it the fact that they were kitted out in somber looking gray suits? Or did someone replace their coffee with Folgers crystals?
July 27 will mark the first day of the Olympic Games, and participating athletes are certainly excited. Many are even taking to social media to express their feelings and, while mostly positive, some are having a bit of trouble watching what they say.
This was the case for Greek triple jumper and track and field athlete Voula Papachristou, who tweeted a racist comment in her native language about African immigrants. According to Digital Trends, the tweet translated to, “With so many Africans in Greece … At least the West Nile mosquitoes will eat home made food!!!”
After followers criticized the remark and called it insensitive, Papachristou deleted the comment and apologized on her Facebook page, saying she was “very sorry and ashamed” and “never wanted to offend anyone, or to encroach human rights.”
Unfortunately, the apology was not accepted, at least not by Olympic’s officials, and the athlete has been banned from competing.
Papachristou’s coach, George Pomaski, does not agree with the punishment, stating, “It’s too much, the penalty should not have been so strict. She has already apologized for her remarks. This is a big disappointment not only for her but for her family and for myself, and anyone involved in the Greek team.”
Do you think Papachristou’s punishment was too harsh?
Travelers hoping to attend the Olympic Games in London probably should have booked their hotels and bought their tickets months ago. After all, the opening ceremonies are tomorrow and events are already starting to ramp up. But if you’re the kind of person who puts everything off until the last minute, and you have a spare $100,000 burning a hole in your pocket, there are still some luxury options to be had.
Members-only travel site In The Know has partnered with private jet charter PlaneClear to deliver a London travel experience unlike any other. Their five-night Luxury Olympics Package includes a private jet to the U.K., shuttle service in a Mercedes S Class vehicle, accommodations at the exclusive Belgraves hotel and a personal 24-hour concierge.
While attending the games, travelers will also be allowed to select tickets of their choice to some of the most popular events, including gymnastics, swimming, diving and more. They can also choose to either attend three events with the best seating possible, or five events with “second tier” seating. The package also provides access to an Olympic hospitality tent, after-hours parties, leisure activities and more.
It is difficult to put a price tag on the experience of a lifetime but in this case someone has. Prices for these luxury packages start at a staggering $97,500 and can be booked by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your private Gulfstream or Challenger aircraft is standing by to whisk you off to London today.
Here’s to the Olympics! New York’s famed Empire State Building is honoring nations competing in London by shining its world-famous tower lights in different colors each night to match the country’s flags. Each of the tower’s four sides will be illuminated in different colors throughout the night for each night through August 12.
This marks the second time ESB has split the tower’s sides with four separate countries’ lights in its history. The building has been lit with colored lights since 1976.
The lighting starts this Thursday with the North and South side representing the USA and the East and West sides representing Great Britain. For a full schedule, you can visit the Empire State Building’s website.