While London 2012 was winding down, we brave few in Nanjing were not content to simply sit back and watch the ‘athletes’ have all of the fun. Midst all of the tears and cheers in the so-called ‘real’ Olympics, some of Nanjing’s finest cricketers (which isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement given the popularity of cricket in China) rose bright and relatively early on a gloomy Saturday morning to contest the first annual Nanjing Olympics.
Foreigner life here in Nanjing generally revolves around weekend drinks and, in the case of the men of Nanjing Nongmin and the aptly named Bogan’s Cricket Club, a game of cricket is usually involved as well. With one of my team’s stalwarts heading back to the US of A to pursue bigger and better things, we’d planned a testimonial match, but cricket doesn’t play so well in the wet. And so it was decided we’d run Nanjing’s first (and possibly last) Nanjing Olympics.
Take that, Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympics!
And back from a far from cheap holiday to the United States, I was determined to bring home a bit of gold to sell off on eBay.
Event #1 – The Beer Sprint
If there was any one event I was confident of winning, it was the individual beer skull. As an Australian, I was basically breastfed with more potent beer than the likes of Tiger, the cheapest beer in China and therefore the one nominated for the event.
But more than that, I pride myself on being able to chug like an absolute champion. I’ve put people to shame in South Korea, Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, China, and the United States in the past and I was feeling quietly confident that in a straight up skull – I had anybody’s number.
But then things got tricky…
- Five meter sprint
- Vault a bar bench
- Five meter run to drinking station
- Skull a pint of Tiger
- Five meter run back to the bench
- Vault bench and sit with hands on knees
A straight up chug had just become something remotely athletic and my choice of footwear was not looking so hot.
The Bogans got off to a flyer with big South African, Kobus finishing in sixteen seconds and hefting the bench above his head in celebration. His efforts were soon overshadowed by the efforts of New Zealand’s Kenyan Squirrel, Hamish. The mad bastard did it all in a shade over 12 seconds!
To make matters worse, Nanjing Nongmin (my cricket club) are not renowned for their drinking prowess. In fact, two of our team were disqualified for strolling to their beers. One of them even had the audacity to light up! Our other two fared little better, and so it fell to me to bring back a little pride.
The moment before the race starts is tense. Sweat beads on my brow, my stomach grumbles, and my taste buds are recoiling in advance. Switching from an ice cold Crown Lager to a sun-warmed Tiger is going to be torture. Brent’s hand drops and we’re off!
I daresay I was the only one on attendance who regularly runs, but damned if running in thongs (flip flops for you American perverts) isn’t a frustrating experience. The chug itself was as quick as I’d have liked, but that last five meters with a belly full of bad beer is torturous. I settled down and waited for my time…
I would have to settle for bronze in the day’s first event, while the Bogans took a healthy lead as they took out gold, silver, and fourth place as well. But event #2 was a Nongmin specialty. I’m talking…
Nanjing Nongmin Medal Count: 1 (Bronze)
Chris Beer Count: 2 (1 Tiger, 1 Crown Lager)
Event #2 – The Rum Tower Team Skull
Talking 2 is the designated haunt of my co-workers and team-mates, and it’s also our official cricket club. This translates into cheap Tiger (meh) and cheap towers of rum & coke (woohoo). So it was that each team nominated four members to participate in a team chug of an entire barrel of the stuff.
- One team member starts by filling his glass and drinking.
- The next team member cannot start pouring until the empty glass is on the table
- First team to completely drain their tower wins
For the Nongmin it was Lynchie, Tony, Azam, and Pat. With Lynchie and Tony the two disqualified for taking too damned long in the individual race, you’d have thought we were no chance, but age and experience shone out over the younger Bogans team and it was won at a landslide. Nongmin didn’t get any gold, but did pick up some valuable points on the tally to decide which ‘nation’ would win the first Nanjing Olympics.
Nanjing Nongmin Medal Count: 1 (Bronze)
Chris Beer Count: 2 (1 Tiger, 1 Crown Lager)
Event #3 – Longest Drive, Golf
The venue for the next event couldn’t have been more perfect, a former Olympic venue of some sort – the converted baseball park had seen better days, but lived on as a golf driving range by the very good German brewery in my neck of Nanjing.
The longest drive competition would be divided into brackets and have some pretty simple rules.
- Each competitor receives three swings.
- A miss counts as a swing.
- In the event of a draw, each competitor will have another swing.
- The winner of each round would go into the second round.
- Second round winners would take part in a three way final where each drive would be measured to decide an overall best total.
Prior to that fateful day, I had no idea just how difficult it is to actually hit a fucking golf ball. But there were more complete misses than there were memorable drives, and one nameless South African at one point sent the club about twenty meters farther than the ball.
It didn’t count towards his total.
I’d initially been drawn up against Kev, otherwise known as ‘The Truth’ for his often tall tales. To say it was a cripple fight of epic proportions is an understatement. Golf is definitely not my game, and I’ll continue to ridicule it as a woman’s sport until I learn to play it.
I did somehow make it through to the second round, but the Bogans’ Brent quickly put an end to my dreams with a first up 150m drive that put my own efforts to shame.
But the Nongmin flag would fly highest at event’s end, with Lynchie snaring gold due to some allegedly unscrupulous scoring from one of our team-mates. We weren’t going to complain though, taking out gold while the Bogans had to settle for silver and bronze.
Nanjing Nongmin Medal Count: 2 (1 Gold, 1 Bronze)
Chris Beer Count: 4 (1 Tiger, 1 Crown Lager, 1 Tsing Dao, 1 Budweiser)
Event #4 – Pool
By this stage in the day the beers had been flowing a while and the lads who had competed in the rum skull were definitely looking a little ginger. To make matters worse, nobody had thought to eat anything.
But just like good athletes, we pushed through the pain/inebriation barrier and made our way to the pool hall for the next event.
Now, I am excellent at pool. Unbeatable. Magnificent.
But only after the right amount of beers. One too few or one too many and I am fucking awful. Guess what I was on the day?
Yep, fucking awful.
In more straight elimination, I somehow made it to the three way final after both of my previous opponents had either sunk the black early or sunk the white while on the black. In both cases, I’d had 2-3 balls still on the table.
The final came down to myself, the Bogans’ Jamie, and our very own Pakistani bringer of pain, Azam. Despite all three of us not having actually legitimately won a game on our way to the final, Jamie pulled out to sterling performances to win back to back games and relegate Azam to silver and myself to bronze. Le sigh.
Nanjing Nongmin Medal Count: 4 (1 Gold, 1 Silver, 2 Bronze)
Chris Beer Count: 7 (1 Tiger, 1 Crown Lager, 2 Tsing Dao, 3 Budweiser)
Event #5 – Poker
The second to last event of the day would be a late addition, with ten pin bowling replaced with a bit of four way Texas Hold’Em at Jimmy’s.
With Poker not exactly being my strong suit (pun intended), I decided to turn my attention to the tower of beer on our table and the Philly Cheese Steak sub I’d ordered. With that much dedication, it’s probably no surprise that I crashed out three hands in and turned my attention to the footy instead.
The final again came down to a mostly Bogans affair, with only Lynchie on hand to represent Nongmin in the tournament’s decider. The little Aussie battler added a bronze medal to his day’s haul while Hamish grabbed his second gold and Canada’s own Troy (the Wonderboy) snatched an unlikely silver.
Nanjing Nongmin Medal Count: 5 (1 Gold, 1 Silver, 3 Bronze)
Chris Beer Count: 10? (3 Tiger, 1 Crown Lager, 2 Tsing Dao, 4 Budweiser)
Event #7 – Trivia
The final event of the evening was another I was quite confident of taking out. Growing a fucking epic beard is not my only talent – I’ve also got a great memory for utterly useless trivia. Whether it’s venomous snakes, foreign capitals, famous people, or coupon codes – I have this frustratingly inapplicable level of knowledge that finds its home in drunken trivia competitions.
It was more straight elimination and I cruised through using superior intellect and superior sobriety (if you can believe it) to brush past Brent and Troy on my way to another final featuring two Bogans. The questions came thick and fast, but ultimately I was unable to name a group of frogs (it’s called an army, apparently) and Kobus from South Africa was again able to snatch gold. I would take out silver, but the day belonged to the Bogans.
And perhaps the people selling us beer. There wasn’t a sober man in the house by the time the tournament came to an end.
Nanjing Nongmin Medal Count: 6 (1 Gold, 2 Silver, and 3 Bronze)
Chris Beer Count: Come here often, beautiful?
In the end, the event wasn’t really about individual results or even which ‘nation’ did better. We’d all turned out to wish our good friend, Pat a fond farewell. If there is one facet of my life here in Nanjing that stands out head and shoulders above the rest, it’s the top group of blokes I get to drink, play cricket, and generally run amok with.
While we’re usually content with Friday night beers and a game of cricket on a Sunday, these little events are a nice change of pace. We’ve got a cricket sixers tournament in Xiamen coming up and planning for the 2013 Nanjing Olympics may already be underway.
Special mention has got to go out to Hamish for not only arranging everything – but also printing bibs, making medals that stained the winners’ shirts, and generally ensuring it all went along smoothly.
And while Pat didn’t get on the podium in one of his last Nanjing events, that’s never really what Pat has been about. If you’ll indulge a little sappy sentimentality, it’s about the friends you make and the experiences you have. And taking home a lovely Chinese wife certainly hasn’t hurt Pat’s time here either.
To Pat: All the best.
To the Bogans: Next year, you bastards. I’m already in training.
Ever participated in a fun, quirky, or off-the-wall foreigner event while living the expat life? I’d love to hear all about your favorite random experiences while abroad.