As the 2012 London Olympic games draw ever closer, now is perhaps a good time to take a look at which athletes stand a good chance of winning gold for Britain. Pensive Apprehension is – surprisingly – little known outside the rather specialised Olympic sport for which she is the current Olympic record holder and gold medallist. Perhaps it is not surprising however, that with the proliferation of new Olympic events over the last few games that the sport of Olympic Free-Form Queuing has not had the media attention it deserves, especially in the UK where queuing is regarded as a national sport. It is often claimed – not without some justification – that if one stands still long enough in Great Britain, someone else will come and queue behind you.
Olympic Queuing, however, is a much more demanding sport than normal everyday queuing. Ordinary people do not usually break into a run, except when chasing a bus, or being chased by a violent gang eager to insistently dis-acquaint oneself with one’s technological gadgetry, let alone devote one’s professional life to being 1000th of a second faster at it than others who train just as obsessively. Similarly, like running, queuing at Olympic level is a completely different activity from the queuing practised at the normal day to day level by non-athletes.
Olympic queuing, then, is the art of not only joining a queue without anyone noticing, it is also about getting to the front of the queue before the Olympic standard ticket window used for the event closes for lunch.* It is also very much about the art of knowing which queue to join and – vitally – when to swap from one queue to another which seems to be moving faster.
Everyone in the UK, of course, remembers the tense final of the Free-Form Queuing event at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, when Pensive Apprehension won her gold medal by slipping into the queue two windows to her left, and then getting served just seven tenths of a second before that service window closed for lunch.
So, come 2012 in London, all eyes will be on Pensive Apprehension as she tries to repeat her triumphant performance, and – maybe – beat her own world and Olympic record by getting to the front of the queue, and served, less that 100th of a second before the lunch break is called.
*Except, of course, for the queuing marathon, where the finishing line is at a flight check-in desk at a major international airport during a strike by French air-traffic controllers, or the queue pentathlon where contestants have to join five separate queues one after another, for example at the delicatessen counter, the returns desk and so on, all in the one supermarket, including the one for the other-wise inexplicable only open check-out till in a bank of a dozen or more.