Hot 5: Lucerne and Lausanne, Switzerland
By Dennis Hensley
THE OLYMPIC MUSEUM
Not to boast but I've done something related to the Olympic games that Michael Phelps has never done in his life; visit the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland. Though lovingly depicted, sans bong, in a sand sculpture in the Museum's garden, Phelps himself has yet to come for a visit.
If he did, he'd discover a wealth of fascinating information and artifacts related to the Olympic games; from Ancient Greece to today. Torches, medals, logos and mascots from the different games are all on display, along with offbeat merchandising items like multicolored matchbooks with those iconic stick-figure athletes that we all remember on them. I saw Sonja Henie's ice skates, Katarina Witt's skating costume and Phelps' swimming tights. But my favorite item was a Speedo belonging to the slowest swimmer in Olympic history to ever win a race?because two of his competitors got disqualified. He's Eric Moussambani from Equatorial Guinea and he only started swimming the year he competed and had never swam in an Olympic-sized pool until the games. Now that?s gumption?Forrest Gumption.
While being shown around by a gracious and in-the-know guide, one of the gays in my group asked about the controversy back in the 1980s when the Olympics refused to let the Gay Games organizers call their event the "Gay Olympics." Our guide claimed that the Olympics have a blanket policy to protect their brand from everyone, not just gays. Fair enough, I thought. Then a few weeks later, I saw an excellent documentary at the Frameline gay film festival in San Francisco called Claiming the Title: Gay Olympics on Trial, which told a totally different story. By the way, did you know that the lawsuit that arose from that controversy was the first gay-related case to make it to the Supreme Court? I didn't. Fascinating stuff.
But back to the Olympic Museum. There's a reason it's the best-known museum in Switzerland. Walking through its halls and exhibits is like revisiting your own personal history, reliving the triumphs and tribulations of your favorite athletes, remembering where you were in your life when happened and tapping back into what it all meant to you at the time.
Watch Dennis's YouTube video of the Olympic Museum: