The Mouse That Roared

I know you are all probably following along at home, but in case you didn’t know, the 2007 Pacific Games have started in Apia, Samoa.

This has actually been a big deal everywhere I’ve been this summer. In Samoa, all the streets in Apia had banners for the games and every day in the paper there were stories about game preparations. I was eating dinner in Samoa one evening and there was a table of representatives from the Olympic committees from various pacific countries having dinner. Listening to their conversation, I got the impression most of the national organizations were really half-assed operations. That really should come as no surprise if you think about how small most of these places are.

The events at the games are for the most part normal, with a few exceptions:

  • Bodybuilding – Why this is a “sport” is beyond me. If you think about it however, it makes as much sense as diving, synchronized swimming, rhythmic gymnastics, and figure skating.
  • Netball – I really think Netball is dumb. See my previous posts from New Zealand. It’s basketball for girls, working under the assumption that girls can’t play basketball.
  • 7s Rugby – Honestly, the quality of competition in this event would be world class. Probably the only event they could say that about in these games other than weightlifting. I’d expect Samoa and Fiji to meet in the finals.
  • Va’a (outrigger canoing) – A real sport native to the region. I remember seeing in Samoa gigantic outrigger canoes that would seat over 20 people.
  • Archery – Not surpising as an event, but the Prime Minister of Samoa is competing.
  • Surfing – Everyone on the Tonga surfing team is from the same family.

If you have ever watched the Olympics opening ceremonies, you’ll always notice the tiny countries. They usually have an Olympic contingent of one or two people, and that one guy is holding the flag. The TV commentators will usually say something about how awesome it is that these little countries are here and basically treat them the same as you would competitors in the Special Olympics. (Awww, isn’t it great that the Cook Islands are here?? Give them a hand everyone! What great competitors!)

Well, the mouse has roared.

There is one particular sport which the countries of the Pacific are really good at. Weightlifting. There is a guy from Nauru (approx. population 12,000) who won a bronze medal at the world championships. Last week, a lifter from Micronesia, Manuel Minginfel, set the world record in the 56kg class.

I really think one or more of these island countries is going to bring home some hardware from Beijing in 2008.