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It’s for this reason that I always felt pretty bad for German Shotputting Women. Like everyone, I’d heard the rumours at school that all Eastern European Shot Putting women were just blokes dressed up as women and that’s why they’re so good, hairy and look like guys. And, like everyone, I presumed this was just a hurtful playground rumour; a pretty old one at that, maybe even a leftover from the Cold War or something. I mean, Germany reunified 20 years ago, and who even watches the Shotput?? I wouldn’t have a fucking clue what the participants look like, or even if former Eastern Bloc countries are any good at it.

Given my lack of interest, I was pretty ready to accept the rumour as fact. There’s no smoke without fire, after all. That is, until I caught The Lost World of Communism on BBC 2 on Saturday night where, amongst other things, they covered the issue of East German shotputters - finally, a chance to put this issue to bed. So I took out my camera to document the evidence.

It introduced us to Heidi, and her gold winning shotput throw back in the Olympics some years ago. I don’t follow such menial sports, so I guess 20-odd metres is pretty good. Although for an Olympic athlete throwing something 20 metres doesn’t exactly seem superhuman, or anywhere near enough for a nation of school children to start a smear campaign against you and start calling you a manchild.

It showed her doing really normal things like having a hair cut…

Taking a train… all pretty normal for a woman to be doing…

Ok, she has short hair, a boyish grin, and is pretty tall, but that’s no reason to hate the girl. How intolerant we all are. Just let her get on with her life.

WTF? Who’s this guy?? I guess he must be a cultural commentator, or her old coach or something…

AAAAHHH!! No it’s the East German Shotputter herself!! Christ. Turns out the rumours were completely true. The East Germans were so keen to win that gold in the female shotput that they pumped her full of male hormones and turned her into a burly bloke. Ingenious in a way, and I bet Heidi’s really glad they did so. I mean, being forced into an involuntary sex change might seem like a big sacrifice - turning your whole life into a human circus sideshow and all that - but where the fuck would Communism be now if East Germany hadn’t won such mediocre events as the female shotput?

Oh, wait… In fact, maybe if they’d spent more time improving the lives of their citizens instead of dedicating their collective effort to winning pointless medals at the international equivalent of ‘Sports Day’ (and in doing so ruining the lives of the athletes and everyone else in the country), then the whole Communism thing might not have turned out to be one big wasted century for a lot of the world. I guess the moral of the story here is that you should probably believe everything people tell you because it’s probably true, and if it isn’t it may as well be.


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