Saturday, August 4, 2012

England, do it for Sherlock!

(Written on day five of Sherlock Holmes Week but posted a day late.)
Okay, England, you want to claim Sherlock Holmes as your own? You want to use his legend to boost tourism, especially while the Olympic spotlight is shining on London? Well, then, here’s something you might want to get behind:
Fencing. Boxing. Judo.
So far, you haven’t taken a medal in any of those sports, and they were Sherlock Holmes’s sports. I might let you off the hook on judo, as baritsu might not technically be the same. But fencing? Boxing? Those were totally your Sherlock’s specialties. Italy has the most medals for fencing this year, and you have not a one! Italy! The home of  the hideous thief Beppo and the evil Black Giorgiano! You’re letting that country slip away with gold?
Sherlock Holmes was, as you may recall, “an expert singlestick player, boxer, and swordsman.”
And yet his homeland has not one gold medal for fencing in any Olympic records I could find. In boxing, they don’t do too badly in the middleweight divisions, having picked up gold as recently as 2008, but even singlestick, which was Sherlock Holmes’s best sport, never got them fencing gold. (And their last silver was in 1964.)
Men’s singlestick, Holmes’s best fencing area, was an event in the 1904 Olympics in St. Louis, Missouri. All of the medalists were from either Cuba or America. (And technically, the gold medal winning Cuba entry was an American, too.) Any Sherlockian up on his or her dates is sure to look at that fact and wonder: Where was Sherlock Holmes that year? He had retired from Baker Street well over a year before. And a few years later, he will be in America, pretending to be an American for the matter written up as “His Last Bow.”
Might it not be too much of a stretch to wonder if England’s most famous singlestick expert was competing in St. Louis in 1904 as an American? It was the only year that singlestick was in the Olympics, so the chance would have been hard for him to pass up. Could he have even taken a medal?
I don’t know, but England, it’s time you got your fencing act together, for Queen, Country, and Sherlock Holmes!

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