Hello and welcome to “Podium Moments”, a series that discusses the performance of the three athletes or teams that place on the podium after a competition. Today’s article will cover the three teams that finished on the podium for Event 15 of the 2020 Marble League!
Although they are now out of contention to win this year’s tournament, the Minty Maniacs, with their bronze medal, have proven that didn’t really matter to them.
“The fact that we’re this far up in the standings with Marble League champions is such an honor. We never expected to win,” admitted Minty Flav. “Does that mean we didn’t want to win? Well, no—but a championship would have only increased the impact that we had on helping marbles in need. We’re grateful, regardless of how we do in the Marathon, that we already got to do that.”
The Maniacs ascended out of Group B along with the Oceanics, beat the Green Ducks in the Quarterfinals, and became one of many teams to fall to the Savage Speeders in their quest for eternal glory. Regardless of how the final standings shake out, there is no doubt that the Minty Maniacs, through their sheer determination, talent, and charisma, have persevered this season.
Where have the Thunderbolts been during the past four seasons? After placing third in the 2016 Marble League, the Bolts have made it to every single Marble League since, but have really only done that. Their most impressive achievements since then have been winning Bobsled 2018, earning the most bronze medals of any other team in the League, and recently, they’ve been taking an interest in earning silver medals: one per season and two in the first season of Marbula One.
Fans may always question why the team’s management didn’t stop the original five members of the team from retiring, but it is far too late now to get them to come back—and it’s likely they wouldn’t, considering the current state of the team. The Thunderbolts were on track to break the Oceanics’ record of event appearances without medaling, which would have been tragic for a team that is nowhere near as disappointing as they were last season or Mellow Yellow was this season.
As the Thunderbolts ascended out of their heat, their fans were holding their breath. “I was a part of the team in 2016,” Bolty recalled, “and we were undefeated in our heat. This year’s version of Collision was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before—complex and tactical. There were so many close calls, but the team hung on.”
Bolt, cousin of former member Bolty, trained using a specific maneuver that allowed them to remain relatively untouched in the center of the arena, spinning in place to arrest their momentum. Bolt implemented this tactic flawlessly in their quarterfinal and strongly in their semifinal, besting both the Oceanics and Hazers to advance to the finals against their old rivals, the Savage Speeders. Although they didn’t win the match, the Thunderbolts had done enough to prove their spot in the Marble League and make the original team proud.
The Savage Speeders have historically been terrible in Collision, placing last in 2019’s version of the event—but they dominated in this year’s version of the event, winning each of its heats without a sweat and making it to the finals, where they beat the Thunderbolts in a bit of an old-school matchup. Fans will say it’s rigged, citing their legal but risky formation in the semifinals that gave them the edge over the Minty Maniacs, but what have I been saying for the past two years? Oh, that’s right: Never count out the Speeders.
So how did they pull this off? I asked Coach Quickly for the details:
“Well, I have little details to give you. It is our team’s tradition not to reveal our training strategies,” asserted Quickly, “but I will say that this season, we trained especially hard for this event. Collision, and other-collision based events, are events that we did not feel secure on. If you look at the standings this year, I think you’ll see how that has changed.”
The team, with a five-point lead, is putting in Speedy, the racer’s champion of the inaugural season of Marbula One, to compete in the Marble Marathon. When asked if they were ready, Speedy responded without hesitation.
“I was born to do this. I’ve never been more ready in my life, and I have no doubt that I am going to win the event and the championship. There is no other outcome.”
The story of the Marble League is a story of 28 active teams chasing the greatest achievement in marble sports: an international championship. When a team wins the championship, they instantly become a pillar of the League’s history: they are an example of having achieved that goal and become inseparable from it. All three teams in the running for the 2020 championship have all been champions before—which makes their pursuit this year even more important. They are defending a title.
In conclusion, it is indeed a milestone to see three teams at the end of each Marble League event stand above the rest, because they—through months of training in the offseason, working to qualify, and dealing with the unquestionable presence of fortune that affects any sporting event—have preserved and put their best roll forward. They deserve their “podium moment”, but more than anything, they deserve their chance to shine.
Until next time, keep on rolling!
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