Slant Pattern at the 2017 Jeux De La Francophonie

Multi-sport events, like the Olympics: I like 'em. There's actually a ton of them, far more than just the Olympics. There's games where the participants are connected by geography (examples include the Southeast Asian Games and the Pan American Games), by culture (the Commonwealth Games, open to countries still affiliated with the United Kingdom), by station in life (the Universiade, or University Games), by sports-not-included-in-the-Olympics (the World Games), or by language (the Lusophony Games, open to Portuguese-speaking countries).

For this column, I'm endeavoring to watch some events from the latter category, the Jeux De La Francophonie, open to countries that have some sort of connection to France. The connection, it seems, can be a bit loose. Not only is Canada represented, but so are Quebec and New Brunswick as separate delegations. Then there are countries like Romania, Uruguay, and Qatar, whose connection to France, French culture, or the French language is unknown to me, except I do know that French is not widely spoken in those places.

The 2017 edition is being held in Abidjan, the capital of the African nation of Cote D'Ivoire (they discourage the Anglicization of the name to "Ivory Coast"). No, I'm not actually there, but they are putting full events on their YouTube channel.

There is much overlap with Olympic sports at the Jeux De La Francophonie, plus "African Wrestling," which unfortunately has not begun at the time of this writing. There are also cultural competitions: digital creation, ecological creation, hip-hop dance, juggling, poetry, painting, photography, puppetry, sculpture, song, storytelling, and "traditional inspiration dance." I won't be writing about these, because a) this is a sports column, and b) it'd probably be useful to understand French to fully grok those events, and I don't. Actually, I probably could follow along with the juggling.

The first event the organizers have put on YouTube is "Lutte," or as we know it, wrestling. Even though I was my middle school wrestling team's scorekeeper, I know little about it. Let's get to riffing.

We start with a preliminary match in the 48g (about 105 pounds) weight class between Canadian Jade Parsons and Ivoirian Caroline Yapi N'De. With still over a minute left in the first round, Parsons scores a technical fall by winning 12-0. Wrestling as we know it is reasonably popular in Canada. In Cote D'Ivoire, it isn't. So Parsons throwing her opponent around like a rag doll is unsurprising.

Next up, in a heavier weight class, a Quecbecer named Laurence Beauregard (Quebec wrestler, or Confederate general?) against Romanian Madalina Simona Tudor. My girlfriend just asked why there is no Louisiana team when there's a Quebec and a New Brunswick team. I have no answer.

The match is stopped after Beauregard injured Tudor somehow. After being looked over by doctors, Tudor returns to the mat while looking on the verge of tears, and is eventually pinned.

In the interest of keeping this column under 50,000 words, let me limit the rest of my comments to notable or strange happenings. Or, when I have jokes.

After the Beauregard match, the proceedings are interrupted by a medal ceremony (or edited to appear as such). A scoring chyron also reported that a Cameroonian won a gold medal in one of the weight classes over a Canadian, with no bronze being awarded. I guess that weight class had just two participants, and I'm glad an African beat a Canadian in wrestling because I assume that's an upset.

Watching match No. 5 on the broadcast and for the first time, a Canadian/Quebecer has been scored upon. They won the previous four in shutouts and shutout-pins. Romanian David Dobre goes on to beat Quebecer Vincent in the first match to go the distance. Hopefully, the Canucks won't be as boringly dominant in our next event, Judo.

The first two matches feature — guess what? — Canadian winners. I have to look up how scoring works in judo. There are no graphics or chyrons for this match, so you have to keep your eye on the referee and you don't necessarily know who's competing. This is starting to feel like homework and I'm beginning to hate Canadians, so let's try some track.

The track venue is where the Ivorian national soccer team plays, Stade Félix Houphouët-Boigny, which Wikipedia notes "has been the site of several deadly stampedes."

As they pan around the crowd a lot before the days' races begin, I spy a USA basketball shirt, a Miami Heat jersey, a Golden State Warriors jersey, a Los Angeles Lakers jersey, an even an Atlanta Braves jersey. You might keep out our Cajuns, but you'll never keep out our culture.

The first track event was a heat for the women's 800m. I have the give credit to the camera work and production. With a lot of time to kill before the heat, they showed a great deal of the participants warming up, in seemingly equal measure, so you weirdly felt like you got to "know" them on some level.

The second heat features a Quebec woman named Laurence Cote, our second lady Laurence. Today I learned the Laurence is a common feminine name in French, or at least Quebec.

After the second heat, they break for the medal ceremony from the woman's marathon, won by a New Brunswick woman. Again, New Brunswick, like Quebec, is competing not as part of Canada, but as their own team. Apparently there's no New Brunswick provincial anthem, because they're just playing "O Canada" for the winner. There's also confusingly no bronze medalist. Surely the marathon did not go off with just two competitors?

So why are there no delegations from French Caribbean places like Martinique and Guadeloupe? I know they aren't independent nations, but neither is New Brunswick.

I reckon when I start arguing with non-present tournament organizers, it's a good place to stop.

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