As we reach the mid-point of the World-Wide Track Meet, here’s a brief snapshot of the nations who dominate the by-now-pretty-well-established leader board – Slovenia, New Zealand, Mongolia, Australia, Qatar and Slovakia – as well as one popular but populationally-bloated nation whose Olympic hopes are rapidly fading.
Dominant OlyMPMic nation hopes to stave off debt crisis by dominating games. Really a lot like Slovakia, but smaller, and spelled different.
Location: former Yugoslavia
Chief Exports: cars and medicaments
Best animals: olm, hedgehog, edible dormouse
In The News: “Moody’s Downgrades Debt Rating Three Levels To Baa2: Political risks to the implementation of an economic overhaul and deteriorating asset quality at banks have contributed to financial sector external funding contracting sharply.”
Highly athletic population consists chiefly of hobbits, elves and dwarves.
Location: North of South Pole
Chief Exports: sheep, movie trilogies
Best Animals: sheep
In The News: “Aussie Channel Avoids Showing NZ On Medal Tally: Australian media are in delinal at seeing New Zealand above their team on the Olympic medal table.”
With an economy based on animal husbandry, Mongolia is the most popular of OlyMPMic nations, with celebrity fans including Ryan Hoke, Doug Roszmann and Julius of Outer Mongolia.
Location: in the mountains
Chief Exports: Genghis Khan
Best Animals: sheep, camels, saiga
In The News: “Mongolian Court Jails Ex-President: Embezzler of monastery funds arrested in dawn raid broadcast on national television.”
Like New Zealand, but older: often referred to as “Old Zealand.” Also bigger, with more weird animals and fewer athletes per capita
Location: west of New Zealand
Chief Exports: snowboarders, surfers, restaurant servers
Best Animals: sheep, cane toad, kangaroo, Tasmanian devil, dingo, dugong, emu, wallaby, wombat, numbat, koala, kowari, yabby, bilby, brolga, bandicoot, cassowarry, kookaburra, cuscus, platypus, phascogale, galah, goanna, echidna, bogong moth, oystercatcher, sugar glider, frill necked lizard, fairy penguin, parrot turquoisine, quokka, and the spotted tailed quoll
In The News: “Cattle Boss Farley Compares PM To Old Cow: Australians who think they have permission to make sexist and silly remarks about the leader of the country should think again, Attorney-General Nicola Roxon says.”
I had a stamp from Qatar when I was in Wolf Cubs. I got a Collectors badge, except I think I got it more for my coin collection than for stamps. I wasn't really a stamp collector. I just sent away for free things in the back of comic books, and that's where I got the stamps from other countries. I also sent away for a pouch of pipe tobacco from Theodorus Niemeyer, which I would smell whenever I was reading Sherlock Holmes stories. I couldn't believe they would just send tobacco to a kid! They didn't even ask my age or anything.
Location: in the desert
Chief Exports: Scrabble
Best Animals: sheep, camel, oryx
In The News: “Traffic Expert Urges Extra Care When Negotiating Roundabouts: A representative of the Traffic Department has urged motorists to drive carefully and follow a number of tips to ensure that they can negotiate roundabouts safely and prevent several of the accidents happening throughout the country.”
Like Slovenia, but bigger, and spelled different. American grunge and alternative rock have a wide following, as well as a new found enthusiasm for musicals. My daughter named her frogs after two Slovakian body-builders named Vlad and Branco.
Location: Former Czechoslavakia
Chief Exports: machinery
Best Animals: Blad and Branco
In The News: None. SKTODAY.COM (“Slovakia Today – latest news from Slovakia”) has not been updated since February
United States of America
Massive country with world’s largest Olympic media coverage ranks thirty-second in Olympic medals per capita, behind Serbia but ahead of Ukraine.
Location: south of Canada
Chief Exports: MacDonalds
Best Animals: Devil Rays, Tigers, Cardinals, Orioles, Marlins, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Lions, Colts, Bears, Falcons, Bengals, Panthers, Dolphins, Eagles, Broncos, Rams, Seahawks, Blackhawks, Penguins, Panthers, Mighty Ducks, Coyotes, Sharks, but not Bruins. Or, apparently, sheep.
In The News: “The Brady Bunch - Where Are They Now?: Vince Vaughn is co-developing and executive producing a CBS comedy derived from the family-friendly sitcom which aired from 1969 to 1974.”
Bright yellow: countries clambering atop the medal podium for the first time
Light yellow: three other countries