Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Legend, A Velodrome & A Boludo

Over at the Velódromo Martin E. Cochise, the Colombians really cleaned up on the track bike finals, winning 95% of the overall medals. This was especially pleasing to world champion cyclist Martin E. Cochise, who just so happened to be sitting two seats away from me during the finals. There was a moment of tenseness, when it seemed one of the cyclists might break his world record time trial from 1970, but the 67-year old saw his legacy remain intact. For being the best known figure in Colombian cycling, he was a very outgoing, yet humble character, continuing to sign autographs and encourage "the wave" inside the Velódromo.

The last event, the 'Americana,' paired 7 teams of two bikers for 140 rotations around the Velodromo. The most exciting part of this event is how each team grabs and “slingshots” their teammate around the curves, attempting to score every 20 laps. After 100 laps, the positioning for the last scoring lap got a bit fierce, with Argentina, Ecuador, Venezuela and Colombia all within grasp of the Gold. As the Argentine cyclist crossed the finish line in first place, he turned to taunt the Colombian cyclist behind him with a closed fist. This didn’t sit well with the crowd, or the Colombian cyclists, who exchanged unpleasantries with the Argentine while still riding around. I (regrettably) made the decision to yell BOLUDO! (jerk) at the pompous jerk. As the quarreling trio came by our side, some of the younger Colombians in the stands picked up on my Argentine-centric insult and started a BO-LU-DO! chant.

Hold on, let me find my soapbox. While I hate the stereotype that Argentines are arrogant, self-absorbed, wannabe-Europeans who could care less about the rest of South America, this is more or less how they are viewed in Colombia and throughout the continent. Having lived some months in Argentina, I’ll gladly stick my neck out for all my coworkers, friends and acquaintances whom have shown me what great people they are. But ¡Carajo! You guys have to learn something about Public Diplomacy! I was in Argentina when World Cup soccer coach Diego Maradona made the infamous “keep on sucking” comment that bounced around worldwide sports networks, making all Argentines look like arrogant jerks. To have more athletes reinforcing this stereotype is just terrible. Some advice for any Argentine athletes (or travelers) outside of Argentina: If you don’t want to be a BOLUDO in the eyes of other countries, please, just leave the attitude and “boludez” at home.  Take it from a gringo who managed to the humility to befriend a cycling legend from Colombia without bringing up Lance Armstrong once.


  1. Ouch!!! So, I finally got to read this...

    Bloody hell, what a prick! The problem is, once Argentines get the opportunity to get out to compete in sports - whether it be football, tennis (Del Potro), cycling, you name it... they have this ferocity about them which means they have to prove that they're the best, because they have fought so hard to get to where they are.

    Doesn't mean to say that their teammates from the rest of the continent haven't had to work hard too, but the Nationalistic and uber patriotic vibe that the Argentine carries with them once they leave the Provincia of Buenos Aires is, well impresionante.

    Funnily enough I am living with 3 Colombian girls at the moment here in BA... it is interesting to hear their experiences with rude arrogance around the city, however unfortunately it exists not only here but in the whole world. When I was living in England, I was friends with a group of Norwegians who weren't shy to communicate to me how horrible England was, how great Norway was and how much they were looking forward to going back.

    I guess we all get on a defensive once we leave the home land and are inclined to protect what we know, and what we grew up with. However if there is one useful thing they teach you growing up in England, it is good sportsmanship... and lets be honest, that is something that the Argentines clearly need to get to work on.

    Hope you're well Miles :) I'm enjoying your blogs.