Beijing Olympics 2008
So the UK won more medals than ever before. Well ever if you don’t include 1908 which forevermore will be known as the British Cheating Olympics where we made up most of the sports and the competitors at the Olympics. But the question on everyone lips here at FT is, did Pete manage to avoid less that fifty nine minutes of it. If we are discounting the opening and closing ceremonies (which we are, because its my game with my rules) then the answer is YES. I only got another three minutes of tedium in over the weekend (OK four if you count the replays of a British woman kicking someone in the head in the Tae Kwon Do). So my final Olympic Avoidance Time works out at less than 51 minutes, and a new Personal Best.
And yet. I feel like there has been more Olympics around.
question: who should create and direct it?
preamble: the chinese capitalised (er haha) on A: a known gift for fireworks, B: a known gift for people prettily running with flags, C: spectacular oriental spectacle, D: a population as numberless as the pixels in the ocean — and the Brits limp far behind on all counts; my suggestion is that we should make a virtue of necessity and scrobble our counter-spectacle up round the sense of grumpy, lumpy, stubborn, dry-witted, weird-crop SMALLNESS, the aesthetic legacy of a small crowded windy greenfield crag dropped into the north sea
hence my answer:
(Apparently according to the BBC, its actually Day 14 of the Olympics – which means I have successfully avoided three whole days). I’m back from my holiday now, so work luckily has massively helped me avoid the Olympics. Because it is mostly on at night (when I am asleep) or the day (when I am at work) I feel that the record could be in my reach. All I accidentally saw today was part of the mens 10K swim, which is MADNESS I tell you. And appears to cause it too. In the interview afterwards the Brit who came second was asked about the last half of this two hour race. He admitted he couldn’t remember much and was pretty much delirious though that period (which explained why he couldn’t swim straight). So the Olympics have come to this, a sport where people can pull your shorts down, and kick you in the head whilst you poison yourself in a lake and lose the ability for rational thought. ACES!
When I was a kid, I thought the Olympics was just an athletics competition. This was before the red button and us being good at anything that involves sitting down. (Note how many of our medals have been in sports where you get to sit down). No it was runnin’, jumpin’, throwin’ and gettin’ told off for doing the javelin’ in the back garden with a bamboo cane. That event never went away. But in this Olympics, even a studied Olympic avoider has noticed that the athletics has been played down a touch because we did not expect to win anything. Well we won a few. And we got a silver in the High Jump that we did not expect. How do I know this? All the commentators saying, over and over again as I was trying to hide in another room, that it was truly remarkable. When I finally poked my head around the door it became apparent what exactly it was that was so remarkable. Not our chap being able to jump high but the hubris of his fellow competitors believing they could jump higher.
during the 2006 winter olympics in turin i developed an overweening and somewhat embarrassing crush on tempestuous skateuse IRINA SLUTSKAYA—she of the apple cheeks, mousy hair and how shall i put this—pleasing thickness that one does not normally associate with ice skaters.
something else one doesn’t normally associate with ice skaters is clothes you might actually want to wear yourself. but in 2006 russia had it goin on. their motif was a kind of cross between a paisley shape and a garland (or a zapf dingbat), and when applied to a straight-up indie gas-station attendant vibe i found the russian outfits almost as irresistable as a certain ice skater who wore them. (they also had their own twee mascot, the venerable cheburashka, who may have contributed to a new Olympic trend.)
it’s unnecessary to detail the hours i spent trying to track down the hoodie in the above photo. oh i was desperate, had taken leave of my senses. 1/2-inch enamel souvenir pins on ebay with the above garland/paisley design were enough to start me salivating. in the end i forgot about it. but here come the olympics again, taunting me with their inaccessible vestments, reminding me of the ones that got away. it appears that the company which made those russian outfits still have a web site and it’s being revamped. a dormant spark of hope flares up. are you out there, boscosport? do you do trackbacks? i’m an easy mark.
In an ordinary Olympic games, Britain racks up 5 or 6 gold medals: this time, we have 16 and counting – marvellous news, incredible work on the part of Team GB, etc etc. But also, in a sense a slightly raw deal for some of the athletes involved, as while the pot of fame and endorsements available to successful Olympians will be bigger than usual, it probably won’t be three times as big. Please don’t take this the wrong way: I’m not suggesting that fame and fortune is the main reason any of our athletes compete, but it’s got to be a nice bonus, and the fact is that following these Games some of our winners are going to end up a lot more famous than others.
It was not ever thus – take Britain’s performance at the Barcelona Olympics. Five golds, and four of the athletes involved became more or less household names. But the Beijing mob surely won’t fare quite so well: in fact looking at the media you can already see who’s being groomed for future stardom (in the British sense of the word, i.e. a comfy berth on a daytime TV sofa whenever needed).
What is the FAME FORMULA for Olympic success? In the grand tradition of bogus equations I give you this:
F = (A * C)/R
Less medals = less news coverage. That is a good thing to the determined avoider. What else has been good is the monotony of the sports involved in the British medla haul. It is quite easy to tell if its the Olympics when the staggering diversity of potential sports to be shown are narrowed down to cycling and sailing (or indeed general watersports*). There is a safe bet that if my eye catches wide open expanses of grey water, that the TV is not on an ITV3 re-run of Hornblower or the Onedin Line, but rather another untelegenic sport with unclear rules. For instance its not clear to me if in the Yngling all the contestants have to be female (and blonde). Sex would seem to make little difference to a sailing crew, but what do I know. Except having “Laser” as a boat class name is a pretty pathetic way of making your sport sound cool!
One place where I am surprised to see a lack of the mixed version of the game is the hockey field. (Or field hockey field if yr expecting ice hockey).
STOP WINNING MEDALS so called Team GB (so British to invent a teamname which tries not to actually say the contentious British word). Its relatively easy to avoid the Olympics when your radar is set for the BBC with extra Clare Balding alerts. But win medals, (or lose medals with Paula Radcliffe) and the games make the news. And I want to watch the news, as Georgia is on my mind. And whilst sports commentators can be banal, add BBC news teams to this and you could end up with some sort of explosion of idiocy.
So it appears that the “GOLD RUSH” means we are third in the Medals Table, a table where it is mainly about the number of golds (silver and bronze columns see to be there for goal difference purposes).
So, OK, Michael Phelps may be rather good and no doubt in four years time he will become the most medaltastic performer in any sport ever ever ever, BUT at the moment he still just trails the great Ray Ewry who won TEN individual gold medals between 1900 and 1908* (Phelps is currently on nine individually, the rest are relays). The reason Ewry is not famous is partially because, dude, name any athlete from that long ago, but mainly because of his specialism, THE STANDING JUMPS. He was Olympic Champion at the standing long jump, the standing high jump AND the standing triple jump (and, it sa here in my Giant Book Of The Olympics, world record holder of the non-olympic BACKWARDS standing long jump, 9 foot 3, if yr interested).
It’s good to see that some people are still keeping this great event alive though:
*two of these were in the intercalated games of 1906 which kind of don’t count, BUT ANYWAY…
Olympic Avoidance Log 2008: Day 6 and 7 – The Team, Lightweight, Coxless, Synchronised, Freestyle Yngling
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.