The race is not to the swift …

nor the battle to the strong, but that’s the way to bet.

Marcos Baghdatis put up an impressive fight, but ran out of legs in the end against the calm professionalism of Roger Federer in the Australian Open. Still, there’s always next year.

Update While we were all looking to Melbourne for an upset that never came, this was happening in Sydney.

19 thoughts on “The race is not to the swift …

  1. When was the last time (pre-Baghdatis) that a Cypriot got on the front page of an Australian newspaper? Archbishop Makarios’s heyday, I suppose.

  2. “The race is not to the swift …”

    Do I inderstand you to be saying that “success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity”?

  3. James,

    That’s correct

    “A considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.”

    Notwithstanding this, a portfolio weighted towards positive capacity-outcome correlatoins is stochastically optimal.

  4. It was funny the way Greek Cypriot Bhagdatis had support from the local Greeks. The Swiss French Federer didn’t appear to be supported by the local French.
    I didn’t notice any support for Bhagdatis from the local Turkish Cypriots either.

  5. It is also interesting that the proposed Cypriot model is largely based on the Swiss (and Belgian) states.

    But the difference here is that we are dealing with the two historical frontlines of the Christian/Islamic battle.

    Lets face it, sport is for the right wingers and hence, the support Baghdatis receives is largely from Greco-fascists who have been chanting anti-Turkish comments at will.

    Nevertheless, the key chant, “Turkey out of Cyprus”, is backed by the UN.

  6. You can’t be serious, David. Half the ‘local Greeks’ are Cypriots. Most of the ‘local French’ are probably tourists. I don’t think flags are at half mast in Athens.

  7. For those who don’t know, James and John are quoting Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language”.

  8. “Lets face it, sport is for the right wingers”

    Well, Polo and the America’s Cup maybe, Savvas. You might have trouble sustaining that assertion in respect of AFL, League and Netball.

  9. Geoff,

    There was a survey done 2 years ago of political support amongst AFL fans.

    It constituted a landslide victory for the tories (60/40 I think).

  10. I thought Marcos Baghdatis left Cyprus aged about 13 and has lived in France ever since. How Cypriot (or even Greek) is that? It seems to me he is a naturalised citizen of ProfessionalTennisLand.

  11. What’s even more interesting (to me, anyway) is that Baghdatis’ father is Lebanese. Now why didn’t we hear much about this during the Oz media’s rapturous adoption of the talented and appealing Marcos?

  12. It was reported but his surname is quite Greek sounding, so he may just be a transplanted Lebanese Greek. Remember, the Greek Diaspora is world wide.

    I have met Greeks born in Sudan, Cameroon, Russia.

    However, it is likely that he is Arabic but of the Greek Orthodox faith.

    A common occurence in those parts.

    It is interesting how a person develops a nationality.

    A theory…

    If you compare Greece and Australia, I believe people develop an Australian identity more as a result of the benefits derived from living in a stable democracy, rather than embracing the prevailing Australian culture, whereas a Greek identity is something that immigrants strive to attain through the knowledge that they are living in one of the most pivotally historical places on Earth.

  13. I was even wondering if his name might be (a few generations back) a Hellenisation of Baghdadi. The demographic history of Cyprus is out of step with what one might expect from the timing of political developments on the mainland. For instance, the first Turks were settled there by the Mamelukes, to help protect it from both the Venetians and the Ottomans (who hadn’t yet established a supremacy over all the Turks).

    I believe the full quotation has “… the race is not always to the swift…”, and the “but that’s the way to bet” variant occurs in Heinlein. But check my often faulty memory rather than relying on this sight unseen.

  14. “What’s even more interesting (to me, anyway) is that Baghdatis’ father is Lebanese. Now why didn’t we hear much about this during the Oz media’s rapturous adoption of the talented and appealing Marcos?”

    This would complicate things. Introduce conflicting emotions. We were in a feel good state with an enchanting young, nice underdog, being supported by a large crowd of new (relatively) Australians, raucous, yet well behaved. Which helps erase the memories of Cronulla. Introduce “Lebanese” and the scene in our minds may change to; men of Middle Eastern appearance congregating in big crowds.

    In reality, the fact that his father is Lebanese is meaningless. The boy’s a Cypriot-no doubt about that.

  15. P M Lawrence,

    His name in Greek is spelt and pronounced Pagdati with the accent on the last syllable. Apparently Arabic people cannot pronounce the P sound, hence the B spelling for western audiences.

    This probably destroys my theory that his surname’s similiarity to Baghdad helps link his father to the arabic world.

    Greeks pronounce Baghdad…Vagthati

  16. Arabs can usually pronounce “P”, it just doesn’t occur in their own language (there are a lot of dialect variations, like the way Egyptians have a hard G for what other Arabs pronounce with a J sound). Arabs have often been exposed to the P sound via Persian. The variant Arabic script used for Persian has a few extra letters for the additional sounds; “P” is written like a smiley face logo, only with three dots below in a triangle instead of two dots above (that’s used for the ordinary T sound, i.e. not for the T as in Taliban).

  17. the quote is originally from King James Bible actually….
    it’s ecclesiastes 9-11 and it goes:
    i returned, and saw under the sun
    that the race is not to the swift
    nor the battle to the strong
    neither yet bread to the wise
    nor yet riches to men of understanding
    nor yet favour to men of skill

    in its full context the meaning is pretty obvious.

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