Sunday, 10 August 2008


We've been watching quite a lot of the Olympics. Its a habit from when I was a girl. Our family wasn't particularly interested in sports but we always watched the Olympics and Wimbledon. I've periodically added other sporting events depending on friends and boyfriends - currently that means football, but has in the past included snooker, cricket and formula 1.

So far I've been watching:
  • rowing - some of the races but trying to miss the meet the people in the boat segments because they aren't enhancing my experience of the sport.
  • men's gymnastics - very impressive feats of strength and control, and none of the arm and hand twiddles that female gymnasts have to pepper their routines with.
  • swimming - always like watching swimming, I like the under water shots, and the line of the world record going along. I'm very much rooting for Phelps, but also for anyone from outside the normal swimming-winning nations (glad that Taehwan Park from Korea won a gold in 400m freestyle). Very irritated with Sharon Davies' commentary - each time the GB swimmers don't come 1st, 2nd or 3rd (which is always) she starts off the interview with, "are you disappointed?" which really dampens their youthful excitement about being at the Olympic games swimming in competition with athletes they are in awe of.
  • boxing - not sure why I watched it but I did.
  • archery - its a funny sport - tense and taut with very big bows. Disappointed by our GB team - they seemed to shoot more accurately against the Chinese and then having failed to make the gold/silver contest got worse while competing against the French. Still they are clearly better than I'd ever be (very small target when its set a 70m.
  • women's cycle road racing - which was very exciting at the end, a Brit in the breakaway group, who the commentator was suddenly very concerned about when she seemed to be slipping off the end of the group, only for her to come back and win it in the sprint. Her absolute jubilation at winning was a joy to see.
  • 2 minutes of beach volley ball (honestly, this is clearly not about the athletes but the sport of watching the athletes - how can it be taken seriously when they wear really skimpy bikinis to play in - its ogling that is the real sport here).
This morning Dad and I watched his copy of the opening ceremony. Great fireworks. Really great fireworks. A male display (female - one at a time, making for a slow paced display but able to savour every explosion, male - set them all off at once for an intense but impressive display - its a theory, someone told me one bonfire night - I like male displays better, personally). All over the city. Loving the birdnest stadium. I even liked seeing the athletes parading in - bright eyed, excited by the occasion, taking pictures of the crowd who were taking pictures of them. The ceremony was impressive, although at times rather long I thought (we could fast forward the slow bits).

I'm concerned about the London Olympics. Clearly Londoners and Brits generally are less than enthusiastic about them. Being stingy is clearly not going to help us make a successful games. I'm not sure we can come up with an impressive opening ceremony, I'm not even convinced we can get the stadia finished in time (while I love it I do remember that the Millennium Wheel didn't actually get raised until sometime after the new year, and remember the issues with the Millennium Bridge?)

Everyone keeps saying we can't top the Chinese so we should do something really low key and different. I'm not sure low-key will help to get people engaged. I think we should do something like a massive fireworks display that snakes all along the Thames - a massive intense male fireworks display from Parliament all the way to the O2 or something. Less of the bah humbug. More passion. Maybe.

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