17
Aug 08

Olympic Avoidance Log 2008: Day 6 and 7 – The Team, Lightweight, Coxless, Synchronised, Freestyle Yngling

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As I move into the second week of Olympic avoidance, the game is getting considerably harder. The reason? I am no longer in charge of the television as I am visiting my parents. And they want to celebrate Great Britain’s successes and it would be sort of rude to walk out of the room whenever they flick the seemingly endless cycling on. So my awesome record attempt is crumbling due to people in funny hats cycling round and round in a circle. Occasionally they fall off, and men in jackets stare at the velodrome track. Sometimes the men put a bit of gaffer tape down on it. Being a cycling judge is clearly where roadies go to retire.

But there has been so much cycling. And so much swimming. And quite a lot of diving (though considerably less now we are rubbish at it). Put it like this, there has been more than I would expect from sports where you are racing over distances where one would think the medals may go to the best over 100m, 200m, 400m etc like in the athletics. Instead though the minor sports which make up the gravy of the Olympics are well aware that this is their one moment in the sun, every four years. And some of them have worked out the key part of making their sports seem more important: to have more versions of them so more medals are available.

A number of techniques it appears have been developed to do this, and here is your handy guide in case you want to beef up Handball (Hitler’s favourite sport):

Different Weight Classes: A great idea from boxing, it suggests that it is unfair that a shortarse should have to fight a beefcake. And perhaps it is true, but in rough and tumble fighting outside a pub, you don’t get to stop a fight because one of the protagonists is considerably lighter than the other. Nevertheless this idea has been stolen by many of the martial arts and in particular the weightlifting – where it seems that the basic question of this simplest of sports “how much can a human lift” has been bastardised to “how much can a human lift if that human weighs X”. A great way of multiplying the available medals in your sport, it also has the plus point of implicitly suggesting that the short and light people are effectively disabled and should be in the paralympics.

Diff’rent Strokes: This is one of the best innovations of swimming. Not only do they want to know how fast you can swim a certain distance, but they gve you different races for different ways to getting there. So Breast Stroke, Butterfly, Back Stroke, Freestlye (crawl) : WNY NO DOGGY PADDLE! Not only that but they then have a race where you do all of them, the awesomely names freestyle. Which means in total there are five different 400m races! Athletics is missing a trick here, the only time they have nicked this idea is for mincing walking. But imagine the 400m where each hundred is in a different syle. 100m running backwards, 100m hopping, 100m walking and 100m freestyle (probably running!) Get to it.

Synchro: Yes swimming but when I discovered synchronised diving the lightbulb tinged above my head. There seems very little implicit in the sport of diving that suggests that doing it synchronised with another person is anything but a bit hard – but not key to the development of the sport. Except it doubles the number of dives there are. Doing anything synchronised with someone else requires a lot of training, and why there is no synchronised gymnastics, or dressage I have no idea. Synchro pole vault, that would be good.

Multiplicity of equipment: This is posh sport heaven. Rowing and yachting seem to have hundreds of classes based on the number of different boats they can invent. It is almost worth it for the invention of the word Yngling. In gymnastics if they invented a new piece of awesome equipment tomorrow there could be a good chance that it got included – I am very keen on adding a bucking bronco to vault over.

Coached / non-coached: As an old cox myself, I am constantly impressed by the trick rowing played to double the events in their sport. Namely the version of their sport where they have a cox in the boat versus the coxless versions. Bearing in mind that the main job of a cox in river rowing is steering, and Olympic rowing takes place on a straight course, this is even more impressive. But surely other sports could benefit from this. Boxing with the trainer in the ring, cycling with the coach doing a backie.

Let’s team up: I like a good relay race (I like watching people drop the baton). But the “group pursuit” cycling seems like the oddest type of relay I have ever seen. And this suggests that you can make up any relay you like and call it a “team version”. Indeed the eventing and gymnastic teams are a way of squeezing another medal out of individual sports. They really should do it in weightlifting so we can discover the World’s Strongest Country.

So as you can see, I saw more sport in the last two day than I expected. Over ten minutes of blimmin’ cycling. Infact the only way to avoid it properly was to come and write this rant.

FOURTEEN PUSHBIKE MINUTES
NINETEEN OLYMIC MINUTES IN TOTAL

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