September 10, 2006


Polo, With a Big Difference: Rookies From D.C. Area Travel to Thailand to Vie On the Elephant Circuit (Anthony Faiola, 9/10/06, Washington Post)

During America's debut in the extra-wide world of elephant polo last week, frustrated U.S. captain Kimberly Zenz nearly screamed herself hoarse.

The prime pachyderms toting the rival Italians were dominating the opening match, while Thong Kao-- Zenz's languid charger -- seemed more interested in turning the grassy polo field into an afternoon snack. But as the ball skidded dangerously close to the Italian goal posts, something suddenly seemed to stir from deep inside Thong Kao. She hurled her three-ton bulk toward that ball like Barbaro on steroids.

From the sidelines, international playboys almost choked on their gin and tonics. British aristocrats looked up from their Rolexes, cocking eyebrows with bemusement. For a moment at the King's Cup Elephant Polo Championship -- one of the circuit's Big Three -- it seemed the upstart Yanks from the Washington area might finally charge onto the scoreboard.

Then something really did stir from deep inside Thong Kao. She let rip a hail of dung that left the pursuing Italians dodging for cover.

And just as Zenz yanked back her mallet, Thong Kao accidentally stepped on the polo ball, squashing it into the ground and suspending play. It marked the first of many lessons for a team of rookie Americans who came to the emerald hills of the Golden Triangle this week for a crash course in one of the world's most surreal sports.

Lesson No. 1: You are only as good as your elephant.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 10, 2006 9:04 AM

Don't marathoners occasionally take a poop too?

Posted by: RC at September 10, 2006 11:10 AM