Etc

OK, so I did something slimy

Ask any serious competitor and you'll hear the same answer: I didn't come here to finish second. Case in point: Hasse Johannesson. A year ago last weekend, in his third crack at the championship, he lost to the winner by five seconds. So, using the disappointment of that experience as motivation, he came back this year determined not to be an also-ran. And succeeded ... defeating rivals from 15 other countries and finishing 13 seconds faster than the runner-up. At what, for goodness sake? Oh ... the 53rd annual world oyster-opening championships in Galway, Ireland. Armed with a sharp knife, Johannesson, who's a restaurateur in Sweden, opened 30 of the marine delicacies in 2 minutes and 41 seconds. And that took into account the four-second penalty he was assessed for some combination of the following: flesh that is torn or not fully severed from its shell or that has grit, shell fragments, or the contestant's blood on it, or a shell that is presented empty or face down. As chief judge Terry Brennan put it: "It's all about being able to slide the oysters down your throat without difficulty." Even as Johannesson basked in his triumph, however, he knew he still had room for improvement. Predecessors Bernard Gontier of France won the title four times and Willie Moran of Ireland still holds the world record: 1 minute, 31 seconds.

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