Today I have a human interest story, a vignette from the other front of that vicious global proxy war being waged, pretty much everywhere, between the United States vs. Russia, I am talking about the Olympic Games of course.
This story is from Life News, a patriotic Russian newspaper, which had something to celebrate about. Namely, the judo match which took place yesterday (August 9) between Russian Federation Citizen Khasan Khalmurzaev vs. American Travis Stevens in the men’s 81-kilo category. Khalmurzaev defeated Stevens by ippon (judo equivalent of “knock-out”, which appears to involve pressing both shoulders of your opponent into the mat) and hereby won the Gold; with Stevens taking the Silver.
Here is pretty much a straightforward translation of this story, blessedly free of my own commentary. This is not only a feel-good story for Russians, but also involves elements of good sportsmanship and Friendship of Peoples, no less. Gasp!
Khasan Khalmurzaev, the Champion Who Got Even With America and Avenged The Tears of Efimova
This day was characterized by the main rivalry between Russia and the USA. Our 22-year-old judoist in the final match threw his American opponent onto his shoulders, and thereby placed an exclamation mark over this rivalry!
Our newly-minted champion climbed barefoot up onto the medal stand to receive the congratulations of his friends. His coach stood a little ways off from the (judo) mat, and simply did not know what to do with his burgeoning emotions. At that moment somebody came up behind him [the coach] and clapped him on the shoulder. It was a most elegantly dressed man who looked much like Pierce Brosnan from the James Bond films — a man in a suit and tie. He embraced [Khasan’s coach] and congratulated him.
It turns out, this was the coach of the American judoist, Travis Stevens. (The American coach) even took time to intercept Khasan himself, as (the champion) leaped off the medal stand, in order to utter a few warm words (of congratulation) to him. As did the American judoist himself, Stevens, who happens to be a protege of Khasan’s. Stevens, by the way, is the first American judoist in history to have won an Olympic medal.
And this is precisely what Olympic sport is supposed to be about: Chest to chest, face to face. Warlike embraces during the battle; friendly embraces when the battle is over.
All morning our Internet was peppered with congratulations for [Olympic swimmer] Yulia Efimova. We fully share the opinion offered by many, that her Silver is worth more than the Gold. Heck, it’s worth even more than the Californium-252 (isotope), which is worth 10 million dollars per gram!
And how hard we had to resist hurling our coffee cups at the TV set! Directly into the face of the grinning and gloating American swimmer Lilly King who demonstratively raised her fists in the air and would not acknowledge Efimova. And who later, at her press conference, poured out onto our athlete the usual load of cheap propagandistic dirt.
It took me the longest time to remember whom this chubby American swimmer reminded me of — I finally remembered: The very worse character in the (1966) movie “Shkid Republic“, the fat, treacly money-lender Slayonov, who robs all his friends. At a certain point even Michael Phelps, who became a 19-time Olympic champion in Rio, joined in on the persecution of Efimova. Saying, Oh dear, it wounds his heart when athletes who used doping, get to participate in the Games…
Yeah, but what about Justin Gatlin? Doesn’t it wound Michael’s heart that he [Gatlin] was twice caught for drunk-driving and got ratted out for using marijuana — is this normal? Is this the kind of rap sheet you want to see behind the face of your American flag-bearer?
It was precisely because of all these bad things, that (Russians) rooted so vociferously for Khasan. And yes, his opponent happened to be a real man. And one feels genuine sympathy for him (Travis). But as for the rest of the Americans — a people who are zombified by their television sets, a people who fall into hysteria and cowardly hurl imprecations and insults via social media — our guy tossed them all onto the mat! And thus he avenged Efimova’s tears.
And Stevens is a good guy, he is good in all respects, both as a man, and as an athlete. Next to our bony and veiny sportsman, Stevens appears like a veritable Samson. Anyone who watched how, in the semi-finals, Stevens almost suffocated his opponent from Gruzia, can appreciate all the more just what a feat it was for Khasan to defeat him. Stevens, by the way, also has a black-belt in Brazilian jujitsu. This explains his inclination, at the first opportunity, to throw his opponent to the ground. And then tie him up in knots. When, at the very start of the final match, he collapsed onto the mat, dragging Khasan with him and winding around him like a giant anaconda — it appeared that our Russian guy would never be able to free himself from this deadly embrace.
But he was able to break free. And was able to meet his opponent’s next attempt to bring him down, with an effective counter-tactic. A blink of an eye — and Stevens is down (with both shoulders touching the mat). A few more seconds go by, and the American, grinning through the width of his grizzled face, grips the Russian tight in a different kind of embrace — this time not a fearsome one, but a congratulatory one.
The closer he got to the Gold, the stronger were Khasan’s opponents. In the two matches just preceding the final, he didn’t even have enough time to deal with his opponents. But in those types of situations, where even the hint of a smile can crash an Olympic dream, our guy demonstrated an iron composition of nerves, muscles, and everything else….
Rejoice, Russia! Stay proud, Ingushetia!