Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Handball news

So, you might already know this, but Iceland won the silver medal in the Olympic Handball championship! Pretty impressive for such a tiny country. In fact, for something to be considered a true achievement here, it has to be a per-capita world record. And Iceland is allegedly the smallest country (population-wise) in the world to get a medal in a team sport at the Olympics, so there you go!

The final was on Sunday at 7.45am, and I joined the rest of the nation in getting up early (despite a party on the previous night) and watching the game. Unfortunately France proved to be too strong a foe.

Note that this is the only medal Iceland got in these Olympics. Which is approximately the same number of medals won by Lebanon (it's just one less medal for Lebanon...).

Anyway, today as I left work I walked by Kjarvalsstaðir, a nearby art museum which contains some paintings of Iceland's most famous painter, Johannes Kjarval. On the side of the building I saw three guys (all with the same blue shirt) peeing on a side wall of the museum.

Now, public urination is pretty common here on weekend nights, when Icelanders metamorphose from quiet distant folk to loud drunken party animals. But during the day? It's pretty uncommon.

A woman who was not too far from these guys (and must have seen them pee) told them as they were done, "Til hamingju með það", a form of congratulations. It struck me as a bit weird that she would congratulate them for peeing, as she did not seem sarcastic and one of the guys politely thanked her. But as I made it to the front of the Museum, I saw a bunch of people grouped there, including policemen and whatnot... And then it clicked, those guys were some of the handball players, and there was a celebration of sorts! In fact, I had read that they were going to receive some awards with elaborate names from the state, such as Order of the Falcon and Knight Grand Cross. Fancy.

As I inquired there, I found out that they were gearing up for a celebration party downtown. I continued walking home and by the time I reached Árnarhóll, the grassy knoll next to Lækjartorg, lots of people were heading there and watching a big screen, while sellers on the side were lining up Icelandic flags and t-shirts. As I walked into Vesturbær (the Western part of town) people were walking opposite me and towards the knoll... They must be getting ready for quite the party!

Indeed as I turn on the TV now I see the president being interviewed. About the Handball team. Well this is Iceland, it's not like there is much happening here otherwise! :). And now, he's making a speech - live - in front of the players... And he just said, "Er hægt að vera Íslendingur, og að vera bestur" which translates as "It's possible to be an Icelander, and to be the best". And he's handing out the awards.

Alright, enough with the live blogging of the handball celebrations. It's time to go to the gym to get in better shape, and possibly become the best!

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