I find it difficult to fathom that none of the other writers at this fledgling sports website have not picked up on what has clearly been the biggest story of the week if not of 2011 thus far. Perhaps, because the story involves soccer, it failed to penetrate the granite-thick skulls of my compatriots. Or perhaps, because the story involves the Women’s World Cup, they have decided to ignore it because they are swine. I choose not to believe that.
As reported via the Twitter feed of Guardian correspondent John Ashdown (Hat Tip: Deadspin), there was a perfectly reasonable explanation for why a game-if-ultimately-overmatched North Korean side fell to the U.S. women 2-0 in the opening match of group play this week. According to coach Kim Kwang Min: “On 8 June, our players were hit by lightning. More than five were hospitalised.”
Well, lightning strikes—that’s not going to help your preparations. You sports fans reading this don’t need me to tell you that, after rickets and genetic mutation-inducing exposure to radiation, lightning strikes are about the worst thing that can befall an athlete. (We all remember how all three things conspired to inexorably alter the course of Game Six of the 1985 World Series.) That the Korean women were able to stay within shouting distance of their American counterparts for 90 minutes after enduring such an occurrence speaks to their tremendous intestinal fortitude and their apparent semi-imperviousness to lightning.
North Korea plays Sweden Saturday in the next Group C match, and you have to figure that this is a must-win match for the Koreans if they entertain any hope of advancing to the next round. Still, a glance at the team injury report suggests that they’re facing long odds against the highly skilled Swedes.
- Probable: Kim, C.O. (Hamstring); Yu, J.H. (Lightning strike); Paek, S.H. (Lightning strike); Ho, U.B. (Lightning strike); Song, J.S. (Lightning strike, groin)
- Questionable: Ri, Y.G. (Called home by Dear Leader); Kim, S.G. (Out of favor); Yun, H.H. (Possible CIA infiltrator)
- Doubtful: Ri, J.S. (“Food” poisoning); Jo, Y.M. (Run-in at DMZ with wise-cracking American doctor and cross-dressing company clerk that turns into a meditation on the futility of war); Ri, U.H. (Ankle)
- Out: Ra, U.S. (Shot, trying to escape); Choe, M.G. (Un-person’d)
Then again, were I betting man, I might be tempted to lay down a sawbuck or two on North Korea in Saturday’s game. After all, lightning rarely strikes twice. Or even six times, as the case may be.
[Photo of lightning: John Fowler]