Beijing Olympics 2008

13
Aug 08

Olympic Avoidance Blog – Day 4: SUCCESS

FTPost a comment • 161 views

I managed to avoid all of the Olympics yesterday. It seems a little insensitive to say it, but thanks Russia and Georgia for pushing swimming champs and posh horse riders off of the front pages of even the tabloids.

Of course if Tanya was here she would also be praising the Russians, though I imagine on the spurious grounds that this international incident was sparkeds by the fact that the B-52’s and R.E.M. all hail from Georgia. Her grasp of geo-politics was always shaky.

OLYMPIC MINUTES SO FAR: FIVE

11
Aug 08

Olympic Avoidance Log 2008: Day 3 – Waterworld

FT2 comments • 167 views

Waterworld was rubbish partially because swimming isn’t all that dramatic. Even if you have gills like Kevin Costner. The British swimmers and divers may have gills for all I care, though that may be cheating (again I wonder about the IOC’s line on evolutionary advantages). Anyway what I remembered today was that Olympic Avoidance gets significantly harder when Britain wins medals. It invades the normally agreed non-sport sections of the news. So I saw our swimmers getting gold and bronze in a stupid medley race. I mean they don’t get the athletes to do 100m running backwards, so why should swimmers get to mix it up? As it was I felt a little sorry for the foreign swimmer who was the silver meat in the British medal sandwich. A few tenths of a second is unfortunate. Nevertheless, jingoism ensues, and apparently Hazel Irving got to talk about shoes with Rebecca Adlington. I get the feeling Irving wants to go over to present What Not To Wear with all her apparent fashion talk.

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No Rubber and No Blow Up Dolls

FT + TMFD5 comments • 874 views

You know how I keep saying I hate the Olympics. Well there is one bit of the Olympics I like, it’s the bit which suggests that there is still room for bonkers artistry and fireworks this a po-faced search for medal Dorado. I have always liked opening ceremonies; probably from the moment that bloke on a jet-pack flew around the stadium in Los Angeles. Casts of thousands, explosions and allegorical histories presented as interpretive dance. As a child I was really into interpretive dance, and was often praised for my ability to inhabit the persona of – say – Fernando whilst leaping around the living room. In later life I discovered the cruel truth that actually no-one EVER danced like that except Pans People and they (and successor groups) were wound up in the mid eighties. There was no career in it for me. Unless – 2012…

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Swimming: Rebecca gets gold!

TMFD/7 comments • 404 views

You’ve probably seen the headlines already – in the early hours of this morning Britain’s Rebecca Adlington won the 400m freestyle, making her the first women’s swimming medallist since 1984 and the first women’s gold since 1960!

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His snatch was his downfall

FT + TMFDPost a comment • 144 views

Thanks to the miracle of the BBC streaming video I have now seen some live weightlifting – the mens’ 62kg finals. I can report that I was – as someone in the comments mentioned – quite wrong about the lack of tactics: but the tactics are as brutal and all-or-nothing as the sport in general. Do you try and lift at the limit of your ability to post a total that might get you in the medals, and risk crashing out entirely? Or do you lift what you can, get a total on the board and seek to build on it (but risk exhausting yourself?).

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10
Aug 08

Olympic Avoidance Log 2008: Day 2: Bouncyball (Giant Division)

FT + TMFD4 comments • 198 views

I saw a minute of the Basketball game between the USA and China today. Gosh Basketball is dull. Look at all the things I thought about in that minute to try to avoid engaging with the game

a) Is giganticism a kind of disability (door frames too low etc)? Hence shouldn’t basketball be in the Paralympics. Or maybe there should be a special division for people under five foot six playing basketball.
b) Basketball is a perfect example of a sport which humans have out-evolved to an extent that the game is completely different to the one originally intended.
c) In retrospect it was probably kind of dumb for the USA to have lobbied for certain sports that they were particularly good at to be involved in the Olympics. In the Baseball and Basketball they really are setting themselves up for a fall if they don’t win. (I know I am probably wrong in this, but the only way to get our Olympic loving statisticians to post is by deliberately provoking them!)

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9
Aug 08

Olympic Avoidance Log 2008: Day One – Rowing

FT + TMFD2 comments • 173 views

I hate the Olympics. But it is everywhere (except for the fencing), so it is very easy to accidentally stumble across it. In the last Olympics I managed a personal best of racking up less than an hour of viewing, but I hope to beat it this time. However occasionally I get tricked into watching some by virtue of something interesting happening. It is rarely the sport itself.

This morning it was an explosion at the rowing.

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Foiled again! etc etc

Do You See + FT + TMFD//3 comments • 309 views

Unlike, say, sailing, fencing is a naturally telegenic sport. Violent and shrouded in darkness with dramatically spot-lit little runways for the fencers to jab at each other, each point of a bout will take up at most a few seconds of one’s precious, attention-deficit-addled time. In fact, bouts at this highest of levels are like that old nature film of the grizzly bear swiping salmon from a stream – the crucial action simply takes place faster than a human can see it. Like chess players, fencers are always several moves ahead of what’s actually happening. But with the camera and playback technology available today, every bind, circle-parry and change of engagement can be slowed down, isolated, remarked upon and put into the context of the bout. And like the other combat sports, fencing requires ingenuity, creativity and grace yet thankfully doesn’t depend on a judge somewhere. You either hit somebody or you don’t.

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7
Aug 08

Olympic football and Eurosport commentators

TMFD1 comment • 278 views

“No score at the break – the mighty Brazil being held by Belgium.” We have the old problem here of commentators having stereotyped ideas fixed in their small brains before they have seen a team play. The best attempts and chances in that first half unquestionably went Belgium’s way. They continued to look the better side until a soft red card reduced Belgium to nine men, after which Brazil managed a goal. Belgium had another man sent off in what looked a crazy misjudgement by the ref, but there was still the sense of “mighty” Brazil hanging on, diving and wasting time, as the commentator admired Belgium’s plucky spirit, as if they were hopelessly outclassed but still fighting bravely. Brazil have never won the Olympic football competition, and it looks highly unlikely that this lacklustre team, even with Ronaldinho as one of their overage players, can change that.

So who looked good? Italy did outclass the opposition in a 3-0 win, but I can hardly assume that Honduras are especially high quality. Argentina look very strong, but the Ivory Coast gave them a good game in losing 2-1. Holland and Nigeria both looked pretty good in a 0-0 draw.

On a side issue, why do commentators keep using the phrase “he plays his football in [country]” when we are seeing international football? Is there more information, denotative or connotative, than “he plays in”? Would we think they meant something other than football, or that he plays someone else’s football there?

Premature Sports and British Withdrawal.

FT + TMFDPost a comment • 163 views

Isn’t the Olympic opening ceremony tomorrow? You know, 08/08/08 = money, money, money? (Actually the games start at 8.08pm, which suggests that the first track should be a cover of the Abba tune by 808 State). What I understand the term “Opening Ceremony” to mean is that it takes place before any of the sport starts. So why have the Women’s Football games already started? Yet more proof that the Olympics are rubbish, they can’t even start on time! Of course in the UK we have no interest in the football due to the pesky Scots not allowing us to field a Team GB football team – possibly on the correct assumption that no Scot is good enough to make the team. That said the suggestion of a home nation tournament in 2011 to select a GB team for 2012 I think could be quite good fun. But then it is football, they have their own World Cup and football has never really felt like an Olympic sport to me. Unlike, say, Hitler’s favorite sport Handball – which is as Olympic as they get (pointless silly foreign sport that no-one plays).

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