The Great Olympic Laughter Challenge


The Great Olympic Laughter Challenge

Illustration: Saachi Mehta/ Arré

Now that the Olympic Games are behind us, and athletes’ accomplishments have sufficiently been feted in over-the-top, emotional Facebook tributes, it’s the turn of the real winners, the unsung heroes of the Games. These athletes may or may not have won any medals, but have uplifted our souls with the kind of entertainment that is usually reserved for a post-2 am broadcast on Indian Comedy Central. For this reason, we created our own internal committee to judge Olympians on several parameters including comic timing, weirdness of predicament, and number of listicles mentioned in. The winners are awarded for displaying the perfect balance between all parameters. After three days of intense deliberation, we are ready to announce the much-awaited results.

But first, the categories:
1) “Strike a Pose”: Named after world famous jumping champion Madonna, seeks to award those who have made an exemplary contribution to the world of internet memes.
2) “Love in the Air”: Seeks to felicitate athletes who enjoy competing in the Olympics as much as they do their time with BAEs.
3) “Juicy Controversy”: Our most scandalous category, the award for which was presented by Rakhi Sawant.
4) “Is this Really Happening?”: Featuring Olympic events that could only have been thought of during several intensely creative, binge-drinking sessions.
5) “WT(actual)F?”: Our final category, is reserved for contestants so outrageously entertaining, we had to insert an extra word into WTF.

“Strike a Pose”
The Rio Games were replete with such striking images that it was hard to call this category. From Michael Phelps channelling his inner Dragon Ball Z when he was photographed making this expression, to Usain Bolt’s “so you think you can run?” smile just before winning yet another gold medal, the photographers showed us that they’re pretty damn Olympian too.

Since we had to pick one winner in this category, however, we went with David Katoatau, a weightlifter who became famous for doing a dance after lifting a 204-kg bar. He did this to raise awareness about the threat climate change posed to his homeland, Kiribati. Unfortunately for him, he made the cardinal mistake of making his statement in front of a green screen, resulting in tech-savvy YouTubers changing the background to show Katoatau celebrating in front of a 1920s’ swing band, in the club, and a personal favourite, in space. The athlete turned into an internet legend overnight, so maybe we’ll actually give a shit that his country is going underwater now (lol climate change).

“Love in the Air”
If you, like us, are big softies, this next category will give you some real feels. Rio 2016 served up some soap opera-style entertainment for the romantic in all of us. In a scene straight out of a Hugh Grant movie, five Olympic couples managed to find time between gruelling events to get engaged in Rio, despite the unromantic nature of sweaty people in tank tops and the fact that Brazil was recently declared murder capital of the world.

While this may make you feel warm, fuzzy, and a little confused, the love-struck couples do not win this category. The award goes to German twins Anna and Lisa Hahner who crossed the finish line in the women’s marathon hand-in-hand despite finishing in the 81st and 82nd place, 21 minutes behind the winning time. While German officials were not too pleased with this display of sisterhood, accusing the twins of “trivialising the Games”, the girls received a lot of sympathy across social media for being “so cute ya (heart eye emoji)”.

Athletics - Olympics: Day 9

Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

“Juicy Controversy”
Our runner-up for what is easily the most popluar category, since Indians love their controversy, is a team of two young Olympic divers who thought Rio 2016 was code for high-school teen drama. The divers were said to have split up after one member of the team, Ingrid Oliveira, kicked her partner out of her room the night before their event, so she could reportedly have “marathon” sex with her boyfriend. The spat escalated after Ingrid was slut-shamed on social media and expelled from the Olympics. The “boyfriend” declined to comment, presumably because he was too busy fist-bumping all his bros.

It was an exciting scandal, but our winner in this category (since we aren’t pervs) is Shaune Miller, of the Bahamas, who forgot that she was competing in a 400-metre track event and nosedived into the finish line, securing first place over American Allyson Felix. While this may not be the most orthodox way to win a track event, it is not technically illegal, and Miller walked away with an Olympic gold.

Athletics - Olympics: Day 10

Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

“Is this Really Happening?”
All events depicted in this category are real despite how ridiculous they sound. Some of the contenders in this category have been around for ages, such as the Hammer Throw (“Hey, how about we make people throw this heavy, dangerous thing really, really far? That’ll be a laugh.”) and Synchronised Swimming (“Bro, how about instead of swimming, we make people do a choreographed dance in a pool… you think they’ll take it seriously?”), while a few like Trampolining (“Man, I just think a trampoline would take gymnastics to the next level.”) were introduced more recently.

While each of these events are worthy of this honour, our award is reserved for an event that we truly cannot figure out the use of. Dressage, or horse dancing, is the kind of game that makes you understand why we need doping tests at the Olympics. It is essentially a man in a top hat and suit sitting on a horse while it busts a groove around a mud track. Before you accuse these Olympians of just horsing around, you should know that the event requires immense training and athleticism. Also presumably a stable of horses, a sharp suit/hat combo and a country club membership where you make fun of those “poor people”.

Which brings us to our final category. This category has several nominees, such as our contingent’s ambassador Salman Khan and Sports Minister Vijay Goel not being able to remember the name “Dipa”, and Japanese vaulter Hiroki Ogita who displayed the perfect balance of lol-worthy and aww-worthy talent when he appeared to accidentally dislodge the bar with his manhood during the pole vault qualifier. Another honourable mention is the Philippine diving team, who had obviously come prepared for a 10-year-old rich kid’s pool party. They didn’t qualify for the Games, but they definitely won the internet.

But the man who stole our hearts was the French speed walker who pooped himself, put a sponge down his pants to soak up wet fecal matter, threw the sponge into a crowd, and collapsed on the track midway through the race. In a testament to man’s triumph over gastrointestinal issues, he still managed to finish eighth, only six minutes behind the winner. Which is why we declare him the big winner, not just in his category, but in the Rio Games 2016.

Clearly, spectators at the Games got a lot more than they bargained for this year, much like that other show Takeshi’s Castle, but without Javed Jaffrey’s chutkule.

(Disclaimer: We #love and #respect all Indian contingent members and medal winners except for the Spanish girl who won the badminton gold. Video footage of our award function that we most definitely held was lost in a tragic fire. Winners will receive no physical trophy, cash prize, or certificate.)