Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ghosts of Olympics Past: 1956

After the Olympics, I binged on YouTube videos, and I'm still trying to digest everything I've seen. Today, I'd like to share this little gem with you.

In case you do not recognize the gymnast in the grainy film, that's Takashi Ono. He was one of the badasses of men's gymnastics in the mid-twentieth century. In fact, he was such a badass that I think the International Gymnast Hall of Fame should donate his portrait to the Louvre.

What made him a badass? you ask. Well, in 1952, he won the bronze medal on vault at the Olympics. In 1956, he was the Olympic champion on high bar, as well as a silver medalist in the all-around, pommel horse, and team competition. Oh, yeah, he also took home a bronze on the parallel bars that year.

Had I been in his shoes, I would have stopped while I was ahead, but Badass Ono decided to keep training and keep winning Olympic medals. In 1960, he won gold on high bar and was part of the gold-medal-winning Japanese team. When he wasn't winning gold medals, he took home silver medals in the all-around and vault and bronze medals on rings and parallel bars. To top things off, he was part of the Japanese gold-medal winning team in 1964.

Yeah, he pretty much sucked at gymnastics.


I wonder what he did with all those medals. I'd like to think that he hung his Olympic medals around a teddy bear, just like I did when I was a kid. At least, that's what I imagined Olympic athletes doing whenever I plopped a new medal around my Pooh Bear's neck.

A simpler time

You'll have to pardon the nostalgia. For whatever reason, watching Badass Ono's routine takes me back to a simpler time--a time when I did not know the names of most gymnastics skills, a time when I made up my own names for the skills.

For instance, long before there was Grindr, there were German giants, which I called grinder giants.
Why? Go hang in a skin the cat. Now, swing. Doesn't it feel like your shoulders are being ground into military-grade sharp, pointy objects? Yeah, now, imagine swinging all the way around the bar like that. 

Honestly, who needs a massage when you can do German giants all day long? Ugh.

My shoulders never liked skin the cats much, but I LOVED practicing another skill from Badass Ono's routine.
Long before Shawn Johnson's Bounty commercial, I was a living room gymnast, perfecting what I called the "Pike-oooo!" In order to practice this skill in your living room, you have to yell the words "Pike-ooooo!" as you jump sideways over every piece of furniture. Trust me, parents love when you do that.

Gym gods, Thank you for giving me patient parents. I was one helluva annoying kid. xx, Uncle Tim

You know what else parents really like? Seeing their son jump off the front porch, in a full spread eagle, yelling, "Starfish!"
My parents just couldn't understand what I was doing. In my head, I was doing timers for a straddled hecht dismount. Since I couldn't have a high bar at my house, I had to find another way to practice, and the front porch seemed like the best option.

My favorite part: The dismount

At the time that I was practicing my starfish dismount, I hadn't seen Badass Ono's routine. In retrospect, I'm glad that I hadn't because I would not have been able to appreciate the humor of his dismount.
I made an animated gif of it so that I could watch it over and over. It makes me chuckle because it reminds me of how little kids act at their first gymnastics meets. You know, they dismount, walk off the mat, and pick their wedgies. The coach gently grabs them by the shoulders, turns them around, and whispers, "Salute the judge." The little gymnasts salute, high five a few teammates, pick a wedgie, sit down, and wave to mom and dad.

Granted, Badass Ono was too badass to actually pick a wedgie in public, but I love how he salutes before he stands up straight and then saunters off the mat. So badass.

You know what else I love about this animated gif? The propinquity between the public and the gymnasts.

Can you imagine what would happen nowadays if the spectators could be that close to the competitors?

There would be cougars and teenagers tweeting, "Jake Dalton just dripped sweat on me, and it. was. awesome. Never gonna shower again." There would be weeping. There would be shrieks of joy. There would be fainting. There would be creepers grabbing for locks of Sam Mikulak's hair.

Sorry, I'm too lazy to photoshop in blonde locks. You'll have to settle for neon-yellow-French-fry-looking thingamabobs.

There would be fandemonium! It would be great! Perhaps Rio should take this into consideration...

1 comment:

  1. I think you should be in charge of naming gymnastics skills. Pike-oooo and Starfish are much cooler than some of the skill names in existence (Sheep Jump anyone?).