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A Plump Athlete1 August 2010 Zie Nederlandse versie
by Arnold Jansen op de Haar
When I was young I could beat the fastest woman in Europe. If I had competed this week in the European Athletic Championships in Barcelona my old personal bests would have been fast enough to reach the 100, 200 and maybe even 400 meter finals, with a real chance of winning a gold medal. Well, in the women’s races. Unfortunately I am a man.
When I was seventeen I trained at least six times a week, I had a six-pack and you could say I was well proportioned. At that time, even according to my own opinion, I had a very attractive body. I didn’t drink or smoke and sport was my life. This has changed considerably over the years.
In spite of this, even back then I wore glasses, in my case a big silver coloured number. I think this detracted from my general good looks because I hardly received any female attention. My headband probably didn’t help either. Mine resembled the one sported by triple jump champion Phillips Idowu with this important difference: my hair was already receding. Well, Phillips Idowu would also look better without a headband. Men with headbands do better by joining a football club.
Even so, I was a junior talent. I beat all the other boys at my club and, notwithstanding headband and glasses, I became second in the ‘Dutch Eastern’ championships; hardly any woman in the world could keep up with me. It would take years before I understood that, figuratively speaking, I was mainly breaking world records in order to avoid them.
Compared to athletes, footballers are soft boiled eggs. Have you ever tried to imagine how he would look if Wesley Sneijder were to appear at the start of the 100 meters sprint? Or David Beckham was to take part in throwing the javelin? OK, I will give you another one: ‘Ladies and gentlemen, Wayne Rooney is ready to take a high jump!’
Even when taking part in throwing a javelin or shot put, athletes look very good. Besides, compared to those in team sports their personality seems much stronger; they have to do it all on their own.
The – admittedly very attractive – ladies of the Dutch hockey team do not compare to someone like heptathlon competitor Jessica Ennis. Especially not when looking at the upper leg region. That’s how a lady is supposed to look: no fat, no cellulites and everything in perfect proportion.
To think that I mingled with this crowd in my youth! I simply should have paid more attention. But there were these big glasses, the headband plus the receding hair...
And now I am almost forty-eight with a bit of extra weight. Well just a bit fat. There are, however, people who tell me I look better with each year that passes. They are mostly ladies of a more mature age.
Last week Health Minister Anne Milton announced that you should not call overweight people obese but straightforwardly fat. This would motivate them to lose weight. Well, well, you get insulted by the government in the battle against overweight people. Yet, you only need to look at Nigel Lawson to see the effect of a battle to lose weight at an older age. The result: a wrinkled apple well past its sell by date!
Personally, I think you should only train seriously if you are still in with a chance at competing at the Olympic Games. Otherwise it starts looking a bit silly. Nothing is more off-putting than an older man in tight cycling shorts. Certainly you don’t want to be seen in a tight fitting shirt emblazoned with the words Rabobank around your expanding waistline.
Nowadays I am a man who enjoys life and athletics. I love watching people who come close to the ideal human form, but for me personally this is something done and dusted. When the Olympic Games start in London I will be there, in the stands. You never know, I may attract the attention of a lovely shot put ace from the former Eastern Europe. Actually, I am simply an adorable but somewhat plump athlete.
© Arnold Jansen op de Haar
© Translation Holland Park Press
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