As many of you know, I’m an Olympics junkie. I’m not a sports fan in general, but the Olympics… in spite of its flaws, in spite of scandals over the years, there’s still something profoundly special to me about the concept behind it. I want to believe in people from all over the globe coming together to marvel at the possibilities of the human body and speak a universal language of friendly competition. And yes, I have been cheering for Michael Phelps and Gabby Douglas and all the incredible athletes out there, whatever country they come from.
I was talking with a friend of a friend the other day about watching the Olympics and she said that I must be seeing a lot of great bodies. I agreed. I’m watching a lot of people who have trained their bodies to do things most of us could never dream of accomplishing.
Yeah, that wasn’t what she meant. She meant men with washboard abs and ‘zero percent body fat.’
First off, I haven’t seen a single person at the Olympics with 0% body fat. And you know why that is? Because people with 0% body fat are not alive to compete in the games or enjoy watching them. They are dead. Period. This is something a lot of people don’t seem to understand right now, but it is the truth.
Second off, while there are some amazing thin athletes and I would never take anything away from any of them, no matter where they finished in the standings, there are some equally amazing fat athletes who are kicking some serious booty over in London and I want to celebrate that fact, too.
This is the gold medal winning Italian men’s archery team. The American team looked fitter, according to current popular standards… but these are the guys who won.
350 pound weightlifter Holley Mangold almost didn’t make it to the Games because she had so much trouble finding sponsorship. Apparently heavy weight class weight lifting isn’t very feminine.
I don’t know whether she’ll medal in weight lifting, but she’s already won gold with her attitude:
I love my body. I think it’s perfect. I don’t know what my personality would be like if I wasn’t so huge. And I think it’s a great thing for me. I’ll never be skinny and I’m perfectly okay with that. As soon as I retire I will be doing cross-fit and I’m sure I’ll go crazy with health stuff. But right now I’m kind of enjoying being a super heavyweight. I kind of like it.
And I’m kind of loving her.
Chances are you haven’t heard of the fattest Olympian this year. Judo doesn’t get a lot of air time here in the US, and everybody’s afraid of showing the ‘bad example’ of somebody who they don’t want to see in a string bikini proving they can be athletic.
Ricardo Blas, Jr. continues his family’s tradition of competing in Judo at the Olympics. His father represented their country of Guam in 1988. But Blas, Jr. did his dad one better. He won his first match to get further in the competition than any other judo contestant from Guam in history.
Ricardo, I hope you’ll be back in 2016 and get even further. All four hundred eighty one pounds of you.
Win or lose, victory, tragedy, or infamy, you don’t get to the Olympics without being damn good at what you do. And isn’t the point to admire the human body and the human spirit working hand in hand to achieve greatness?
Well, that and understanding across borders and language barriers.
Olympians, I salute you, no matter your size, no matter your age, no matter your color, no matter your chances of winning medals.
Best of luck to you all.