The Outside Prognosticator: Hey, Isn’t That Al Oerter?

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Outside magazine, January 1996

The Outside Prognosticator: Hey, Isn’t That Al Oerter?

Maybe you aren’t going to the summer Olympics because you can’t get tickets. Or maybe it’s just jitters about Atlanta’s style–after all, do you really want to see waiflike foreign gymnasts get razzed off the balance beam with the Tomahawk Chop? Either way, if you crave up-close Olympic action, you need alternatives.

Weep not–we’ve got ’em. And while these two Olympian spectacles, both mewlingly new for 1996, won’t boast the world’s greatest athletes or even pinch-nosed synchronized swimmers, they don’t lack for pizzazz. Where else can you see Golden Girls doing the shot put. Or refs taking after unruly competitors with switches?

April 13 through 27, Bermuda plays host to the First International Senior Games, which are expected to pull in 3,500 gung-ho athletes, 50 years and up, from 40 nations. Among the highlights: track and field, swimming, sailing, bowling, cricket, walking, darts, and a unique opening ceremony that features a laser show and the scintillating sounds of the Drifters.

The Nemean Games, held June 1 in Nemean, Greece, are the brainchild of Greek and American classics buffs who, with expert guidance from UC Berkeley, recently completed a $2.2 million restoration of the town’s ancient stadium. Some 350 athletes from 27 countries will compete (barefoot) in age-based flights of 100- and 200-meter footraces. Major letdown: Unlike the ancient
Greeks, the runners won’t be naked. Major Bonus: Black-robed judges get to swat rulebreakers with wooden switches. Don’t pity the outlaws, though. According to Nemean Games official Konstantinos Demetriou, the athletes will be served by “slaves in yellow robes”–an amenity that even Carl Lewis doesn’t rate.

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