Antipodes’ armor, as preserved in the Polish National History Museum
Antipodes of Rhodes
Gold Medal, 800 Meter Dash
Antipodes of Rhodes, was born in 538 BC to his father Orsippus of Rhodes. Orsippus, himself a great fighter, trained his only son in the military arts from a young age. It was therefore no surprise when he blossomed into one of the great Hoplite racers (those who run middle distance races in full military garb) the world had ever seen. By the age of 14, Antipodes already had the attention of his regional prefecture. Able to complete an 800 meter dash in bronze armor before any visible change occurred on a sundial, Antipodes was considered a potent weapon in the battle for Greek regional supremacy.
Mortality was a cheaper currency in Ancient Greece than in our modern world. And given the value of an athlete such as Antipodes, and the risk of famine and disease, it was no surprise that his father and the regional governor would approach a local witch to ensure that Antipodes would survive to see the next Olympiad. And it was also no surprise, given the customs of Rhodes at the time that the witch they approached, Phillipia of The North, would choose to bury Antipodes in an ice floe, preserving him to be unfrozen in time to complete his Olympic training in 520 BC. Antipodes, understanding the custom of the time, did not object, and travelled north with Phillipia. He was buried near the Baltic Sea in modern Gdansk.
When Antipodes awoke, he found a world profoundly unlike the one he remembered. The year was 1959 AD and Poland was under the rule of the Soviets. Motorized flying machines soared overhead, and ferocious horseless carriages roamed the lands. Antipodes, looking stunningly out of place in his Rhodesian battle attire, was taken in by Slatka, a warm-hearted Polish prostitute, with a penchant for helping the less fortunate. The two vagabonds were unable to communicate in a meaningful way until Antipodes started desperately repeating the word, “Olympiad.” Laughing, Slatka said what roughly translates to, “oh baby, you are worlds away from Rome, home of the next Olympic Games,” to which Antipodes replied, “Rome? That godless Etruscan hellhole?”
Though she couldn’t understand what Antipodes was saying, Slatka was falling for this strange man. Given that the only thing she could make out was, “Olympiad,” she decided to take him to Warsaw so that he could meet the head of the Polish Olympic Committee, Stanislaw “Stan” Kowalski. Stan was a stern Stalinist and was initially affronted by the idea of a prostitute and a mental case barging into his office at borscht time. But as he looked closer, the crazy person in front of him seemed quite the athletic specimen, and Stan agreed to time Antipodes running on the track of a nearby technical high school.
Stan tried to explain to Antipodes that he could take off his armor before the time trial was run, but Antipodes was a proud Hoplite runner and would not remove his garb before the strange looking man talking gibberish to him used his magic wrist machine to document his greatness. He ran an 800 meter dash in full bronze military regalia in a blistering 1:46.2, a mere 2 seconds off the non-armor-wearing world record. Stan chuckled to himself, and then told Antipodes, “you crazy bastard, you’re heading straight to Rome!” Again, Antipodes was confused as to why anyone would want to go to the most backwards city in the known world, but given how different everything had become, he was willing to concede that things might have changed. And boy had they ever.
The Rome of Antipodes time was a known primarily for its barbaric atheism. The Rome that Antipodes stepped into in the run up to the Olympic Games was a wonder for eye and mind alike. He spent an entire week exploring its cobblestone streets and learning about the modern world. Slatka had found Antipodes a Greek translator named Pancratius to help guide him. As a thank you, Antipodes took her to the European History Museum of Rome where she saw that his armor truly was Rhodesian armor from the 6th century, and the pendant around his neck could only have been forged in ancient Rhodesian mines. That night they made love until the sun came up.
Antipodes started training with the Polish National Track team. He continued blistering his new countrymen in the 800 meter dash while wearing full military regalia. Though Pancratius warned Antipodes he would not be allowed to wear his armor at the actual games, Antipodes seemed not understand what was being said to him, even though it was being said in his native tongue.
Outside of the Polish camp though there was little hype around Antipodes. And when he entered the Stadio Olimpico on the day of the 800 meter Olympic Final wearing Greek armor, Antipodes was met with derisive laughter from the crowd. But Antipodes had all along known more than he had let on: proper Olympic races were to be run in the nude, and Antipodes had maintained his Hoplite armor runs as a means of training.
As Antipodes stripped off his armor, revealing nothing underneath it except a body greased up with olive oil, the stadium filled with over 70,000 fans fell silent. Judges and officials convened; would they allow this greased up weirdo from the past to run in the world’s most prestigious race? While they deliberated outside of the shot-put ring a stern looking Stalinist Polish man stood up. “Let him race,” he yelled in Greek. “Let him race.” Soon the chant spread around the stadium. “Let him race. Let him race. Let him race.” Slatka’s eyes welled up with pride. After a tense few minutes, the officials disbanded, and the head of the Olympic Track Committee approached Antipodes, and told him to get to the starting line. Antipodes raised one arm in triumph and the stadium erupted in cheers, cheers that would continue for the next minute and 43 seconds as Antipodes shattered the world record.