Well, this is something that I first started thinking about yeeeeears ago. I reckon it all started back in Sydney 2000, when Maurice Greene and Marion Jones were kings of the sprint, and I thought to myself – “hey, they’re both American, handsome, competing in the same events (and owning them), and very similar in age (Greene was born in 74, Jones in 75) – why don’t they hook up and have awesome children with the perfect gene pool to become the next greatest sprinters?”. Well, the trouble was that Marion was already married back then, to shot putter C. J. Hunter. Later, in 2002, they divorced – and Marion married an actual sprinter – Tim Montgomery, but it wasn’t the same – I mean, isn’t it obvious that Maurice and Marion make a much better couple?! Jesus, they were meant to be together.
Well, we all know the rest. Marion used to be one of my favorite track & fielders, so finding out that she was using PEDs came right in the feels. She no longer deserved Maurice.
Anyway, ever since then I liked toying with the idea of hooking up male and female athletes. And now it’s time to present some of those super-couples that should have been made. The rules? Well, it’s really just a “feel” thing – I feel that there are some athletes who definitely should be together. Obviously they must be of the same nationality and compete in the same sport, but apart from that – well, like I said, it’s just a “feel” thing. They should probably share some characteristics, like Greene and Jones who were both kings of the sprint and won the 100m in Sydney. And in Seville. And in Athens. Well, you’ll see what I mean through some of the couples. Or, at least I hope so.
Without Freddy Adu – let’s go!
Track & Field
Kenenisa Bekele and Tirunesh Dibaba
Take this couple for example. Isn’t it obvious as hell that they should be together? Doesn’t it make sooo much sense? I reckon this is the couple I should give as an example when explaining the whole concept of this matchmaking thingy. Just like you should give Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole as an example for the “Pairs Game” (what?! you don’t know what the pairs game is?! well, we should definitely cover it sometime in the future). Both are Ethiopians and both are the greatest long-distance runners since 2004. Kenenisa was born in 82 and Tirunesh in 85 so the age factor is ok. And both experienced their first Olympic success in Athens, before winning the 5000/10000 double in Beijing. Both are WR holders in the 5000m. Both are extremely likeable. How come the Ethiopians didn’t do anything to hook them up and create the greatest distance runner evar?! True, Bekele is well past his prime now in track events, but last year he made a good transition to the Marathon. Hey, you know who else made a good transition to the Marathon in 2014? Tirunesh! I rest my case, those two should be together no matter what.
Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Price
From the long-distance power-couple we move on to the sprint power-couple. This is a match I thought about after Beijing 2008, and I definitely remember telling my friends about it – that I’m thinking about going to Jamaica and hooking up Usain with Shelly-Ann to make some super-sprinting-kids. I mean, come on! Usain and Shelly-Ann are both Jamaican, and very close in age – Usain is only 4 months older than Shelly-Ann (both were born in 1986, just like myself! What a great year for humanity). Both are the greatest sprinters of the last decade and both are in the all-time top 5. They won every major 100m competition from Beijing 2008 until Beijing 2015, except… Daegu 2011, where miraculously they both failed to win a medal. While Usain dominates the 200m even more than the 100m, Shelly-Ann is not quite there, despite winning gold in Moscow 2013 and silver in London 2012. Now, Usain has over 40cm height advantage on Shelly-Ann, but this should not become an obstacle en route to their marriage and producing the kids with the greatest possible sprinting genes potential evar, yes, more than the potential kids of Maurice Greene and Marion Jones. And yes, I’m aware that Shelly-Ann is already married. So is Tirunesh. It’s just a minor obstacle in the plan.
Pawel Fajdek and Anita Wlodarczyk
Well, this one is too obvious, isn’t it? I’m really shocked that those two are not yet a couple. But unlike the previous two couples, we still have time to correct it. I think. The two Poles represent the cream of the crop in hammer throw, having won the world title this year in Beijing – the second for each of them. Anita (1985) is 4 years older than Pawel (1989) – who looks exactly like Harry Potter would have looked like, had he taken up Hammer Throw in Hogwarts instead of Quidditch – but this is not a big deal. Women live longer than men anyway. Pawel, Anita – let’s create the best possible hammer thrower in history!
Stefan Holm and Kajsa Bergqvist
A couple from the past. I really don’t understand the Swedes – why did they not hook up Kajsa and Stefan when they were in their prime, circa the Athens Olympics?! Back then they were both the best high jumpers in the world. Stefan won the Athens Olympics and Kajsa won the World Championship one year later. They were both blond, handsome, two of my favorite athletes (well, Kajsa was THE favorite) and were born less than 4 months apart in 1976. Sadly, this never happened and we were denied the next greatest Swede high jumper. BTW, I must admit I had a crush on Kajsa, but obviously I would have stood aside for Holm. Athletic gene pool above all, yo. But hey, in 2011 Kajsa came out as a lesbian, so maybe this couldn’t have worked in the first place… such a Peaty…
Roger Federer and Martina Hingis
Yes, I know that Federer is married to Mirka, a decent tennis player on her own, BUT – her peak rating was only 76… How can you compare that to Martina? The Hingis-Federer couple is too good to not be true. Both are among the all-time greats, with Federer being the greatest player evar (yes, I stand by this claim) and Martina somewhere in the top 10. Yes, top 10. Anyone who has seen her play in the 90’s will agree. Anyway, both are Swiss, and were born less than a year apart – Martina in September of 1980 and Roger in August of 1981. Due to women starting to play on the international circuit earlier than men, by the time we all heard about Roger Martina was already a player of the past, which really saddened me because back in the 90’s-early 00’s she was my favorite female tennis player. They did collaborate once in 2001 to win the Hopman Cup, but as far as I know – that was it. No mixed couples in the Olympics – nothing. God damn it, Switzerland!
Boris Becker and Steffi Graff
A blast from the past. A match that should have been made in the eighties! Back then Germany had these two young juggernauts, Becker – who was born in 1967, and Steffi – who was born two years later, who were rulers of the tennis world. In 1989 they both won the Wimbledon title and the US Open, and I think that was the exact point in time where a move should have been made on behalf of the German tennis… but alas, it was not meant to be. Becker won 6 Grand Slams in his career and Steffi – 22, beating the Federer-Hingis potential combo (22 in total). Just imagine what mad tennis skills their potential German kid could have had! Steffi ended up marrying another tennis legend – Andre Agassi, a historically greater player than Becker, but he suffers from a serious flaw – HE’S NOT GERMAN!!!
Ivan Lendl and Martina Navratilova
And now the original Martina, the one Hingis was named after. It’s amazing how similar these two players are. Both were originally from Czechoslovakia and both became US citizens later in life. Oh, and both were pretty damn good tennis players. Navratilova’s historical ranking (18 Grand Slams) is much higher than Lendl’s (8 Grand Slams), but this shouldn’t bother us – it’s just the opposite of the Federer-Hingis couple. The age difference between them is smaller than I thought. I was sure Martina has something like 8 years on Ivan, but as it turns out she (1956) is only 3.5 years older than him (1960). I guess I thought the age gap is bigger because Matina’s career spanned something like 8 decades. Anyway, since they are both in their fifties now it’s not a reasonable couple. Well, that and the fact that Martina is also openly gay. Well, I still would have payed a fortune to see a families’ tournament between those three tennis couples I just made up. Damn, I’m such a great matchmaker.
Mitchell Larkin and Emily Seebohm
A hook-up I thought about after these last Swimming World Championships. Australia completely dominated the backstroke events, with Larkin winning the men’s 100m/200m double, and Seebohm doing the same in the women’s events. Emily is 23 years old, Mitch is 22. It’s a perfect match! Come on Australia, make it happen! Let’s make the next backstroke king/queen!
An update: Well, what do you know! Mitch and Emily ARE dating!!! Whoa! I bet they read the draft of this post on my PC and thought that they should give it a try. You go Mitch and Emily!
Pieter van den Hoogenband and Inge de Bruijn
Another classic pair that still haunts me – how come it didn’t happen?! Isn’t it a perfect match?! In Sydney 2000 two of the most feared swimmers in the world, especially in the sprint events – were both Dutch. Pieter and Inge are each ranked at the top of the all-time greats in the sprint disciplines, but while Inge dominated the distances up to 100m, both freestyle and butterfly, Pieter did not compete in the butterfly style, but extended his range to the 200m. with 15 combined Olympic medals between them (Inge – 8, Pieter – 7) and 16 World medals (Pieter – 10, Inge – 6), it was only natural to hook those two up. Born in 1973, Inge was (and, well, is…) 4.5 years older than Pieter, and I always wondered how come those two aren’t together. Don’t they seem like the perfect Dutch swimming couple? Don’t they want to make the next Dutch super-sprinter? No? Meh… Well, as it turns out Pieter IS dating an elite swimmer – Ranomi Kromowidjojo, another one of my favorite swimmers. But this couple doesn’t have the right “feel” to it. You know what I mean? Pieter and Inge make so much more sense…
Laszlo Czeh and Katinka Hosszu
On second thought… nah. Apart from the fact that they are both from Hungary they don’t seem like a good match to me. Don’t really know why. Some couples seem like a good match straightaway, those two don’t…
Michael Phelps and Missy Franklin
This one, on the other hand, seems right. Right? Right. After all, Missy IS the female Michael Phelps, despite her relatively less successful performance in Kazan 2015. Both pile up medals as fast as Rasheed Wallace piled up technical fouls, and together they occupy 7 of the possible 8 top spots for my all-time Swimming World Championships medals rankings (total medals; total gold medals; most medals in a single championship; most gold medals in a single championship), with a very likely possibility that they will occupy all 8 two years from now. True, they have a bit of an age difference: Michael was born in 1985, almost 10 years before Missy, but they share this ultimate dominance in the pool… AND they are also versatile. Unlike Katie Ledecky, the other American female swimming juggernaut – who is truly a great swimmer, but one who basically dominates the freestyle swimming style, Missy excels both in the freestyle and in the backstroke. This is why I feel she is a better match for Michael, with his dominance in the freestyle and in the butterfly. Can you imagine the kids those two will have?! Can something stop them from winning ALL THE POSSIBLE MEDALS in the Olympics or in the World Championships?! Of course not! Let’s make it happen, please!
Paul Biedermann and Britta Steffen
Hey, guess vat – zose two vere actually in a relationship! Ja! I don’t know vether zey are still togezer, but zey sure make a good couple. Nein? Ze two of zem are Germany’s most successful svimmers for ze past decade, reaching zeir peak in Rome 2009, when togezer zey von a gold medal in all ze freestyle distances from 50m to 400m. Britta iz already 32 years old, and I haven’t seen her compete for some time now, vile Paul (29 years old) von ze bronze in the 200m freestyle just a few months ago in Kazan, but zis shouldn’t stop zem from making ze next über-svimmer from Germany!
Anthony Davis and Brittney Griner
OMG, can you feel what an amazing defensive gene pool we have here?! Are you as psyched about it as I am?! Probably not. And yes, I know that Brittney is openly gay. But just to imagine what could have been! They seem like a perfect match for me. Brittney is actually 2.5 years older than Davis (What?! Seriously, this came as a surprise to me), but they are both still very young, so it’s no big deal. If they decide, for the sake of the basketball world, to produce an offspring, he will have the greatest defensive-skills-potential evar. He will average 10 blocks per game and will be crowned Defensive Player of the Year 15 times in a row. And just think about the possibility that they will give birth to five kids and all five become basketball players… Can you imagine any team managing to score a basket when the five Davis-Griner kids are guarding them?! Because I certainly can’t. They will occupy all the All-NBA Defensive 1st Team spots for a decade or so. Damn you, dreams – why can’t you come true once in a while?!