Let’s have a little rowing quiz about the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, where the rowing events took place at Lake Xochimilco. We’ll begin with an easy question: Who won the gold in the eights? Easy, wasn’t it? Of course, the right answer is West Germany! And who took the silver in that event? Did you say, Australia? Good, you’re right, again! Let’s move down to the smaller boats. Which nation took the gold in the coxed fours?… New Zealand? Yes, you are correct again, you’re really on a roll. And which country took the bronze in the class? Yes, that’s a little trickier…. If you said Switzerland you’re absolutely right, again. As matter of fact, Denis Oswald, who now is President of the International Rowing Federation, FISA, was rowing in the bow seat in that crew. He also competed in the Olympic rowing regattas in 1972 and 1976 without taking any more medals.
Let’s continue with the quiz: Which crew won the gold in the coxless fours? Yes, East Germany is correct. And the silver? Yes, it’s another eastern block country, it’s….. Yes, correct again, you did say Hungary, didn’t you? And the bronze medal went to which country in the coxless four? Yes, yes, ….. take you time, it’s hard isn’t it? It’s … yes, Italy! Well done, indeed!
Now, here is the trickiest question of them all: which country took the bronze medal in the ‘fictional coxless fours’ at the 1968 Olympic Games??? You don’t know? It was actually Australia – at least according to David Williamson in his play Amigos, which had its debut in 2004 at the Sydney Theatre Company. Williamson has written several plays since the 1970s and is a well-known playwright in his home country.
Amigos takes place thirty-five years after four friends raced in the final of the coxless fours at the 1968 Olympic rowing regatta on Lake Xochimilco where they took a bronze medal.
Thirty-five years later only Dick and Jim are still in contact. Career wise they have been very successful; Dick is a heart surgeon, who soon will have a hospital wing named after him, and Jim is a wealthy banker, who is happy spending money on things that he thinks are important. Jim invites Dick and his wife, Hilary, to his beach house for some relaxing time. How can it be relaxing when Hilary despises Jim’s new, young, beautiful wife, Sophie? Of course, there is a special reason why Jim has invited Dick to stay in the beach house as Dick has something that Jim has not, but is dying to get (and Dick maybe is able to get for him): an AC (Companion of the Order of Australia). Jim tries to do everything in the book to get those letters after his name; gone is the camaraderie they felt when they were rowing with Roger, who died several years ago, and Stephen, who turned to writing and has been living as a beach bum ever since his son died in his early twenties. To be honest, Stephen has not written that much, but when he suddenly turns up at Jim’s beach house to tell his former comrades and their wives that he is going to write a book about what really happened when the four were rowing, both Jim and Dick can see how their careers and lives are going down the pipes.
Williamson’s play might not sound that funny, but it is!
Read a review of the play here.