31 August 2012

a post Olympic view London 2012

I have a bad case of Olympic fever. For sixteen days I lived the action: charged up the hundred metre straight, gasped breaths between strokes in the pool, grunted with each tennis serve, panted and grimaced my way to impossible weight lifts and span my imaginary pedals at the velodrome. I should be exhausted but no, I’m still on a high.

The sporting achievements were truly impressive but these days world records are nothing unless delivered with glamour. The athletics showcase events, the 100m and 200m sprints, threw up almost predictably stunning results by Usain Bolt and his Jamaican cohorts but did you check out the diamond earrings, the gold neck chains and the designer sunglasses colour coded to match the one-piece Lycra suits.

The price of failure is high and with this in mind competitors were spurred to ridiculous lengths. At least two weight lifters were all but crushed beneath the crippling weight of their loaded bars; the coach of the losing Russian women’s volleyball team has since committed suicide.

However with former middle-distance track giant Seb Coe at the helm it was never in doubt that London 2012 would deliver big. For Team GB Andy Murray was always going to thrash arch-nemesis Roger Federer at Wimbledon; Mo Farah was destined to overhaul all his African cousins in the 5k and 10k; Chris Hoy simply HAD to pedal his bike to a record fifth Gold and little Jessica Ennis was nothing less than a certainty for the women’s heptathlon – a gilt-edged, copper-bottomed dead cert!

I can’t take some events seriously: beach volleyball is a cross between sunbathing and soft porn; rhythmic gymnastics (while doubtless a highly demanding physical triumph) could be dismissed as girly ball-bouncing and ribbon-jiggling; I’ve never watched it but sailing is probably just a few laps round the Isle of Wight and a nice glass of Chianti; BMX biking was something we did over the common and got punctures – (hey, don’t you know your saddle’s way too low?); table tennis, good grief we played that at the Youth Club as teenagers and now the Chinese seem to dominate the world!

This Olympiad was not without a wryly comical side, for me at least. I was still shaking my head in disbelief at yet another flawless dive leaving barely a ripple in the Aquatic Centre when the commentator (doubtless some chlorine-soaked old wrinkly) hooted in derision at the over-rotation, loose shoulders and general sloppiness of the performance. Diving beauty is clearly in the eye of the beholder.
In this age of visual excess and clamour for Warhol’s fifteen minutes The Games were a platform for the movers and shakers to be seen moving and shaking. No opportunity was wasted by competitors, reporters, statesmen, celebrities or spectators to see and be seen. Prime Minister-in-waiting and friendly buffoon Boris Johnson even gauged a period of comical suspension from a zip wire would do his self-promotion no harm at all and he was probably right.

04 August 2012

crazy olympics report london 2012

I find it difficult to imagine Apollo squeezing into his Speedos for a few sets of beach volleyball; Hermes mounting his stallion for some ‘horsey-dancing’or Poseidon and Heracles adjusting their noseclips as they prepare to start their synchronised swimming routine...

The first Olympic Games for the Twitter and Facebook generation has produced some crazy stuff. Clues that this was a ‘modern’ Games came at the Opening Ceremony; teenage Olympians marching in the entry parade, their iPhones held aloft capturing video instead of/as well as soaking up the atmosphere of a lifetime.

I thought the Opening Ceremony, despite media criticisms, presented Great Britain to the world in a strong light. Above the spectacular Olympic Stadium remotely controlled cameras scuttled like big black beetles on a network of high wires to beam pictures of the visual feast from every conceivable angle. TV viewers had sumptuous views from inside, outside and above the stadium without having to stump up an eye-watering £2,100 pounds for the most expensive tickets in the house.

I’m watching the spectacle from Canada. There’s a bias in the TV coverage towards events favoured in Canada and The States and commercials appear every few minutes. I hear regular references to landmarks such as Bucking-HAM Palace. Those irritations aside, at least I have five Olympic TV channels, including three in hi-definition, plus plenty of unofficial streaming online so I have most events covered. Reports tell me the Brits are infuriated with some crass home commentary and insensitive interviewing. Another sign of the times is the stinking army of British Trolls unleashing verbal campaigns against British athletes on Twitter and in online comments threads everywhere. It seems Silver is regarded as abject failure. The prospect of a Canadian disrespecting a Canadian athlete seems unthinkable.

Call me an old traditionalist but Track and Field are where the true spirit of the Olympics lies. I’ll be watching the athletics with keen interest from this weekend onwards.

The Mad
  • Gymnasts using little water pistols to spray the Uneven Bars (By the way, when did we stop calling them the Asymmetric Bars?)
  • The trampolinists whistling shrilly with each breath. (Is it just me or did her hips look a bit soggy?)
  • Swimmers wearing TWO caps, one on top of the other. (Never venture out without your undercap!)
The Bad
  • Badminton players expelled for trying to lose.
  • Athletes naively posting scans of their Olympic security passes online.
  • Olympic officials who allegedly charged a barely credible £19,000 to expenses for a single bottle of 1853 vintage Cognac.
The Sad
  • The civilian cyclist tragically crushed under an Olympic shuttle bus on Thursday.
I can’t help but wonder what that mythical god and resident of Mount Olympus, Zeus would make of twenty-first century shenanigans: Olympians stabbing away at smart phones or wearing giant headphones as they saunter into the arena. Everywhere style vies with substance for supremacy and you can be forgiven for thinking competitors are awarded marks for fingernail flag painting, naval jewellery, sparkliest shoes and wackiest cycling helmet. Despite all the silly trappings of modernity, athletic cream will rise to the surface and I’m sure there will be some truly momentous performances.