The Tennisman who Loves Cyclism

Bonne 14 juillet! Yes, it’s the French national holiday, known in English as Bastille Day though in French it’s normally just called le 14 juillet, or La Fête nationale. As French is one of the only two languages apart from English that I’m relatively competent in, I’ve written about it here quite a bit, so I won’t repeat myself. I just want to look at two French words that seem like they really should be English words, but aren’t.

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It Started with a “This”

This evening, while cycling home from work, a thought occurred to me. A slightly panicked thought. I recalled that in my post yesterday I’d linked to an article, and I thought…

 Did I include the link!? (Clearly my cycling thoughts aren’t as interesting as my running thoughts. I suppose I’m too focussed on the road)

You see, rather than write my post directly on my blog, as I usually do, yesterday I’d written it as a word document, as I wasn’t online at the time, and then copied it onto the blog later. And then of course I included all the links. Or did I? Because it would be very easy to forget to (spoiler alert: I didn’t). Before I got home and put my mind at ease, I felt a little annoyed. If I had forgotten it, how stupid would that look? It would be so obvious I’d forgotten the link, and it would be unfortunate for anyone reading it, as they’d miss out on what was a very interesting article. But then, another thought occurred to me: would that actually be so bad?

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Living His Olympic Dream

I just want to write a quick post about Ivo Seibert. You might not know him, but you’ve probably seen him on TV at least once over the last two weeks.

In my recent post about the unusual lexis of the Olympics, I casually wondered who the derny riders in the keirin races were (I have to google the spelling of keirin every time). And you can imagine my surprise this evening when I got home to find a comment on the article from Ivo, sharing a link to a Japan Times story about a derny rider. A derny rider named Ivo. Ivo Seibert! Not only was the story about him, but the image of him accompanying it was the exact same one I’d used for my post! I couldn’t believe it!

Here’s the story, have a look at it, it’s a great read: Continue reading

Derny Look Great?


Every four years, at least once while watching the Olympics, I’ll have a look at the schedule for the day, I’ll come across a sport listed and ask The what??? Keirin!? What on earth is that!? It seems that with every Olympic Games my vocabulary widens thanks to names of specific forms of sports I’ll never encounter again in my life. So here’s a quick look at some of those oh-so specific terms we’ve been hearing for the last week and a bit:

Keirin: a type of cycling race in which the riders sprint after a few speed-controlled laps in which they have to follow a man on a motorized bicycle called a derny. When I see the derny rider, I always think: Who is he? Does he only ever ride a derny? What does he do with the rest of his time? I don’t think I could do that, help people win glory without having a chance myself. Also, it looks really silly.

Repechage: a stage in a competition in which competitors who failed to proceed to the final round, usually by a small margin, get another chance to qualify. It sounds much nicer than losers’ round, but then when you consider the original meaning in French—fishing out/rescuing—the name sounds deliberately humiliating.

Shuttlecock: Hee hee! The little thing they hit around in badminton. Shuttle coming from the meaning to move quickly back and forth, and cock from its resemblance to a male bird’s plumage (and nothing else).

Fosbury Flop: The method employed by high jumpers to go over the bar backwards. Popularised by American athlete Dick Fosbury in 1965. Before he introduced his technique, athletes used a variety of forward-facing methods, all of which looked incredibly undignified, and can be seen in video below:

Laser Radial: Not a classic sci-fi novel, but a class of sailing boat, seemingly so-called because it sounds cool. And why not?

Corruption: sadly, there are probably too many words to cover here, so I’ll have to do another list of Olympics-related corruption vocabulary.