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Special Olympicks

Why carry the torch just for Americans? A special-interest fan’s guide to athletes to watch.

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Left to right: Rumyana Neykova, Ian Millar, Roberto Cammarelle, Ryoko Tani, Zhao Ruirui, Olha Korobka, Cadel Evans  

The Olympics begin this weekend, and let’s face it: It’s boring to root for Americans to win everything. New Yorkers, no blinkered nationalists, need something more than just a flag to get behind. Fortunately, the Olympics are vast enough to have an athlete for everybody, whether you’re a fashion assistant or a bouncer from Bensonhurst. Here’s a selection.


If You’re a Working Mom
Bulgarian rower Rumyana Neykova won a silver medal in Sydney. She then had a child. She won the bronze medal in Athens. She had another child. Now she’s in Beijing and planning another pregnancy after the Games.

If You’re a Law-and-Order Type
Boxer Roberto Cammarelle is an Italian police officer. He’s a favorite at 200-plus pounds, and not because he carries a nightstick.

If You’re a Fashionista
Chinese volleyball middle-blocker Zhao Ruirui isn’t just a fashion obsessive; she’s a clothing designer. She carries a portfolio of her hand-drawn designs everywhere she goes.

If You’re a Dalai Lama Fan
Australian cyclist Cadel Evans sometimes wears a shirt featuring the flag of Tibet under his uniform and sells Free Tibet shirts on his Website. If he’s not shot, he has a chance at two golds.

If You’re Having a Midlife Crisis
Show jumper Ian Millar, 61, is nicknamed Captain Canada. He’s tying a record with his ninth Games even though he has never won a medal.

If You’re a Celebrity Gaper
Japan’s Ryoko Tani, a four-time medalist in judo (two golds!), is paparazzi bait at home. Her marriage to baseball star Yoshitomo Tani in 2003 reportedly cost 300 million yen ($3 million) and was televised nationwide.

If You Hate the No-Trans-Fat Laws
Ukrainian weightlifter Olha Korobka will be the heaviest woman to ever participate in the modern Olympics, clocking in at about 364 pounds. The record she’ll break? Her own, 345, in Athens.

Have good intel? Send tips to intel@nymag.com.


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