Reminders from London
As London 2012 nicks off out of our lives forever, let’s quickly take stock before the local footy ogre takes over and ponder what the Olympics mean to us all.
Do you think of them as a wonderful potpourri of cultures that forms over a heaving banquet of blue ribbon sport? Perhaps a magnificent quadrennial celebration of the human spirit? Or is it nothing more than simply the globe’s physical elite enjoying a jumbo shindig facilitated by javelins and nose clips?
All of these pleasant and IOC trademarked answers are true in some regard.
Despite this, when the heady euphoria and gooey cheer of the Games dissipates, I believe we can pick through the bones and find a more useable purpose for this leap year money-printing factory.
Besides melting away the social and ethnic differences between countries for a few weeks, as well as completely freezing out unauthorised broadcasters and 95% of the corporate world, I firmly believe that the Olympics performs a retune of bearings for our insular, code-centric sports community here in Australia by providing an injection of perspective on a few local opinions.
Here are some examples:
There’s no doubt our squadron of chiselled bruisers from across all codes are as leathery and formidable as three macho ute adverts played back-to-back. And for the fans and media, there’s no string of superlatives or amplified metaphor too large when talking up their feats.
However, I backed off on the boofy lingo for our locals when I witnessed the actions of a German monster who dropped 195kg of dumbbell on top of his head in the weightlifting.
His reaction? He briefly grimaced, then stood up and calmly exited stage left of his own volition.
That’s the equivalent of a 2.5-man crusher tackle – which wouldn’t even rate on the grading radar – and he didn’t even try to stay down for the penalty.
State of Origin, grand finals, Bledisloe Cups, stage fright when trying to give a urine sample. These are just some of the examples of the unforgiving Hades kitchen of burden that compresses down on the meat-packed shoulders of our props, rovers and flankers every season.
But can pre-match self-doubt or a bothersome arid bladder be compared to a nation’s eyes of expectation laser-beaming down on an individual at an event so important that they’re not even permitted to put their sponsor’s logo on their tights?
These unfortunate Robinson Crusoes like Sally Pearson, Jessica Ennis and Chris Hoy must have really felt the strain of that grand piano on the back that all the callers were repeatedly mentioning.
I guess they only have to wait four more years to have another crack at it if they stuff it up.
We’ve seen various incidents where the integrity of footy has been treated like a nightclub mop by shifty players and off-field miscreants here at home. Throwing the odd game or a self-plunge has happened on our watches but unfortunately, the urgency of reaction from the front office hasn’t always matched the gravity of the crime.
Investigations by expert panels have dragged on incessantly and even the careless and ignorant approach to bury the head deep in the sand are some of the ways in which our well-paid chiefs have dozily responded to these situations.
In London though, the sleepy ostrich motif was nowhere to be seen when the sport of badminton was so brazenly soiled by eight players from China, Indonesia and South Korea, who all tried to massage a saloon passage to the business rounds by rolling over.
It was devastating for the sport’s reputation as well as downright offensive on the optic nerve, and the bigwigs at London didn’t faff around, pulling the trigger on immediate bans from the tournament for all involved.
I didn’t see a single column inch about badminton draft picks afterwards either.
We lament our misfiring team’s ability to deal with the nuts and bolts of the game when they fail to catch a pass, hit a target or knock over a simple penalty goal. Not even having all week to refine technique through rehearsal under the guidance of a coach seems to prevent their skill set deserting them at the worst possible time. A lot of the time.
If you’re currently flicking the beads on an abacus to calculate how your team can avoid the cellar in 2012, you’ll know what I mean.
In spite of this, we’ve got to give our lads a loving post-fumble head tap. Watching the majority of all athletics field events at London helped me discover that competitors at Olympic level shank their craft more often than not.
Years of grainy and limited highlight packages on SBS French news had me thinking that every pole vault contest is 45 consecutive cleared bars, but in reality, it’s a jamboree of misplacing, mistiming and amusing foreign cussing.
It makes a sub 60% completion rate drop-a-thon seem quite acceptable in comparison.
Australia has extracted megalitres of good times from the coolest moniker in Australian sports since he debuted in 2004.
Whether it’s the undeniable appeal of the rhythmic repetition of syllables or the simple enjoyment of repeating it with Ray Warren tonality, the big guy’s inclusion on a team still delivers the LOLs.
In light of this, his distinguishable title faces tough competition when compared to the offerings of London 2012. Who spent way too much time taking photos of a frozen television screen for that special keepsake?
Whether it was cursed Bulgarian hurdler Vania Stambolova, the nervous Japanese volleyballer Yoshie Takeshita or the off-the-charts trendy Coolboy Ngamole, the whole event was a reminder that dudes like Moimoi aren’t alone when it comes to charmingly-cool birth certificates.
He’s tailor-made to be a Kiwi hammer-thrower in Rio 2016.