On Day 15, Dogs & Jeans brings you the London 2012 edition of Famous Writers at The Games. As we have done in Olympics past, we invite famous writers, (sometimes dead ones) to give us their literary versions of competition coverage. Please enjoy the Summer 2012 version.
Tom Clancy on Women's Soccer
Christiana Pedersen closed the bathroom door confident no one had seen her enter. She counted to ten and listened for footsteps just in case. All was quiet. The Norwegian soccer referee was alone. The planning for today had been long, but now the time was short. The semifinal match was minutes away but neither Canada nor the US could know the real game was already afoot.
Christiana gripped the edge of the Kohler sink with both hands and exhaled deeply. There could be no stress allowed to show. To accomplish her goal of creating rematch of last year’s World Cup final between the USA and Japan, she needed to be flawless. Slowly she raised her head and stared into the vanity mirror, a British design now manufactured in large quantities in China. Her skin was flawless, her hair just so. She was attractive but not memorable. She could be part of the action, but if she player her role right, she would be forgotten at the end of the day.
She pulled her silver whistle, a pealess Fox Model X-2 from her shorts pocket and draped the lanyard over her head. Pedersen blew a whisper of a puff into the mouthpiece and heard the faint trill that in 90 minutes would screech out the end of one team’s gold medal hopes before its time. One last smile before she assumed the dead-eyed stare of what would soon make her the most dangerous woman in soccer.
Danielle Steele on US Women’s Gymnastics: Five Stars
These five girls on the verge of ripening to full womanhood have had success, but the price paid to get there may have been too high to repay without cost. The Fierce Five are as close as sisters, and like sisters, their relationships are complicated, perhaps each embrace hiding a desire for harm, behind each smile a secret that none can keep hidden for long. And each known best their first name only:
Jordyn: The former star of the program handles disappointment with grace but can she play the role of team helper while keeping her envy for the new stars in check?
Aly: The reliable leader who knows finds the allure of her new-found stardom too easy enticing and begins to resent the teammates who want to keep her back.
McKalya: The one with the greatest expectations who struggles with the only failure she has ever known.
Gabby: Everyone’s favorite who soars high but also crashes hard; and
Kyla: She does her job without ever drawing attention to herself, but still waters run deep, and sometimes hides dark secrets.
Can they compete together and against one another without pulling their lives apart forever?
John Grisham on High Jump
Ivan Ukhov toed his mark, raised his eyes to the bar and began his run up. Two loping strides and he turned an arc angling away from the pit to fight the increase in centrifugal force. He was running full now and, with one final step, dug his right foot into the track. The spikes held firm. Pulling his arms up in front of his body like climbing a rope, Ukhov exploded from the ground. All the forward momentum created during his angled sprint was now transferred upwards. As he rose, his body rolled to expose his chest to the sky. First his head, then shoulders, then lumbar vertebrae cleared the bar before gravity re-established order and drew him down. But not before his buttocks slid past the fibreglass bar. Descending into the foam pit, Ukhov pulled his feet towards his hips as he heels gently kissed the bar.
Sinking into the cushion, he closed his eyes for a moment, waiting for the telltale thump of the bar striking the pit, telling him the jump had been unsuccessful. Only the roar of the crowd filled his ears, and drowned out any thoughts of the moment of panic just before. He stood to acknowledge the applause, his loose fitting t-shirt reminding him of the crisis he was in. Someone had stolen his competition singlet. But why? Too distract him enough to fail or disqualify him from the competition? He couldn’t be sure. And who was he, a struggling your high jumper from a small rural town, a threat to? Surely not the Canadian or the Brit who were both fortunate enough to make the final round. The young Qatari was an obvious choice but was that just a remnant of Soviet prejudice coming through? No, it must have been the Ukrainian who had been so kind to him, so welcoming. Now it made sense: pull him in just to throw him out before he knew what was going on. Uhkov had to come up with a plan before the next round, but was it too late?
Post Script: If you are interested in some real commentary on the Olympic Games and the nature of competition, check out the blog "The Win is Within" by former Canadian Olympic national team rower Jason Dorland.