From the Olympic Games to the Hunger Games
There’s the Olympic Games. And then there’s The Hunger Games.
The Hunger Games is a smash bestselling book series which opens on movie screens around the world Thursday, but the books have been making the rounds among the Canadian women’s rowing team for many months now. According to veteran Darcy Marquardt, about 80 per cent of the squad got hooked on them.
Maybe it’s because they can relate to the book’s dark theme as they fight for spots on the Olympic team.
The first book in the trilogy, The Hunger Games, is described thusly on websites selling it:
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the other districts in line by forcing them to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight-to-the-death on live TV.
One boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and sixteen are selected by lottery to play. The winner brings riches and favor tohis or her district. But that is nothing compared to what the Capitol wins: one more year of fearful compliance with its rule. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her impoverished district in the Games.
“They’re fascinating books,” said Marquardt. “It’s a really interesting story. It’s written for a younger audience I think, but the draw is just the story, the struggles of a teenage girl to find herself and also prove to the world that she’s strong enough to be this heroine they want her to be. I think especially girls latch onto it because of the desire to stand up for what you believe in.”
As Marquardt points out, there’s certainly an element of survival of the fittest to their endeavour. They’ve been in Florida this week fighting it out in the first stage of their selection trials for the women's eight, expected to be a strong contender for the podium at the 2012 London Olympics.
“Sometimes you’re friends, sometimes it’s people in your training group that you know but ultimately there’s only so many of you that can succeed and be on the team, kind of survive say. There may come a point where you have to beat one of your own teammates to get ahead. I see the parallel there. It’s quite timely with this week being the first official step in our selections for our women’s eight.”
At least it’s not a fight to the death like it is in The Hunger Games.
“It’s certainly not to the death, but it’s crushing to the people who don’t make it,” Marquardt said.
Marquardt said the books have been a good distraction.
“It’s not too demanding, it’s a very easy read and things are happening all the time so it keeps your mind off of any other stresses that we tend to have at this time of year with selection looming and ongoing and anticipating even what the day of training will sometimes entail. It’s great to chat about something else.”
For many girls and women who read the book, one of the big questions tends to be Gale or Peeta? They're the two young men trying to win Katniss’ heart.
“I think it’s pretty divided (on the team),” said Marquardt. “One of my teammates, Natalie Mastracci, thinks Katniss has her blinders on for not seeing what a great guy Peeta is and how well he treats her throughout the whole series. I think it’s probably 60-40 with 60 for Peeta and 40 Gale. It’s not a sweep either way.”
The team will likely go see the movie en masse.
“That’s the plan, take up a whole row. I hope it lives up to expectations.”
(The photo above is a still from the movie with Jennifer Lawrence playing Katniss)