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By Susan Young, Film.com
When Crystal Cox struggled climbing up that hill in the season opener of Survivor: Gabon, didn't you think she was just sandbagging for the camera?
I mean, the girl had to have some game, right? That huffing and wheezing had to be an act, right down to needing a little booty push to make it up the hill. No need to show her hand just yet. Like other professional athletes playing reality shows, she needed to hide that light under the nearest bushel if she wanted to live to compete another day.
Right from the beginning, Crystal said her game plan was not to reveal her past. Plan noted. But lately, it seems less like a plan and more like an excuse to be lazy. Look, most of us aren't in the shape we were in four years ago, but unless this sprinter is biding her time for the final leg of the Survivor race, she looks like the high school star quarterback who's now a gone-to-seed used car salesman.
After a few outings, we've come to the conclusion this isn't an act, and we want to see that gold medal for ourselves. Crystal, 29, won the gold in Athens during the 2004 Olympics in the 4 x 400m relay race. A quick Google search turns up little on her after a few wins in 2006. Crystal still thinks she's got the goods, but we sense she's a little past the expiration date.
But bless her heart, she still has this self-image of a warrior woman who could knock the smack right out of the toughest gang-banger. She's talking the talk, but the walk needs some work.
"We got rid of a major physical weak link" Crystal proclaimed after being instrumental in booting off creaky Gillian Larson in the first episode.
This from the woman who sat in a corner, not even trying to paddle her little rubber boat over to help teammate Ace Gordon during the Oct. 9 immunity challenge. The challenge had teammates paddling around to get to a ball that was then lobbed with a long stick into a goal. This was a challenge where cranky wedding videographer Randy Bailey, a man I suspect seldom leaves his sofa, turned into a shining super star.
Even Jeff Probst couldn't believe Crystal's monumental immobility in this challenge.
Sure, she was instrumental in dragging Ace across the line to win reward the week before the team switch-up. But that has been the extent of her physical prowess, and she had personal trainer Matty Whitmore to help her out.
And she's joined an alliance that looks like the worst trio to play Survivor in recent history.
In a switch-up last week that could have helped the struggling Fang team, the losers at Team Failure could have regrouped with a stronger bunch and made it a more even game. Instead, Crystal joined forces with Danny "GC" Brown and Kenny Hoang. After losing the immunity challenge, they took out one of the stronger players for a weak teammate, Kelly Czarnecki, who doesn't even pretend to try at the challenges.
They dumped stronger player Jacquie Berg because they were afraid she would form an alliance with Ace and Jessica "Sugar" Kiper, whom they suspect may have found the immunity idol during her stint on exile island. Which she did. Still, they needed to be thinking about team strength in winning challenges before going into strategy mode. Without strong players helping them win immunity, the trio is just setting themselves up to be picked off after the tribe merge.
My pick for the sleeper of the series is Sugar. She's the one who found the immunity idol. She got a second shot at exile island, and because she already found the idol she could partake of the alternate offering to the clue to finding the idol, which was healthy food, a comfortable bed and a relaxing respite from camp.
As for Crystal, she probably should have beefed up the training before heading to Africa. Telling her teammates she's an Olympic gold medalist in track at this point would probably just result in mocking.
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