>Being an avid sports fan I’ve been taking in a lot of the Olympics.
Here are my observations after week one.
Leaving aside the terrific efforts of the Australians, especially the girls in the pool here are my highlights.
Undoubtedly, the highlight has been the facile win in the 100m final by Jamaica’s Usain Bolt. Up against the fastest field ever assembled at an Olympic Games he treated his rivals with contempt breaking his own world record in the process running a mind-boggling 9.69 seconds. The way he eased down over the last 20m shows he can go faster yet. In doing what he is, Bolt is redefining the way sprinters are developed. Normally, a sprinter is of average height and muscle bound. Bolt has shown that stride length (I counted 42 strides in his victory) is an equally important factor in sprinting and I expect sports institutes around the world to reassess their formula for what it takes to be a sprinter. That will lead to even faster times and I predict that the world record will be reduced to under 9.55 by the 2016 Olympic Games.
Benjamin Boukpeti, ranked 56th in the world, won the first ever medal for the African nation of Togo in the canoe slalom. When he finished and it was clear he’d won bronze he broke his oar in two, thrust the parts into the air and let out a large roar. Terrific stuff. What is little known is that he was born in France, lives there and has only been to Togo once – when he was a little tacker. Given that he is now a national hero he figures it’s probably a good time to visit.
Michael Phelps. What a legend. Winning seven gold medals so far is an amazing achievement but it was his win in the 100m butterfly that showed what a true champion the bloke is. Seventh at the turn and having to make up a lot of water Phelps did what champions do and swam down the leader in the last stroke. People criticise his enthusiastic celebrations but they’re just sporting curmudgeons. Celebrate an extraordinary performance.
I must admit that these Olympics lack atmosphere. Everything is so staged, so fake that I don’t know whether the crowd’s enthusiasm is due to Chinese organisation or appreciation for the performance.
These Olympics have backfired completely on the Chinese regime. Giving the Olympics to Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union failed spectacularly to improve freedom in those countries and it was always wishful thinking to suggest that it would do so in authoritarian China.
Ironically, the decision to award the games to China has not only not led to increasing freedom but has actually led to less.
Over the last few years those people who could ’embarrass’ the regime have been rounded up and detained. China had agreed to allow protesters to stage protests in a park specially set aside for this activity. In order to stage a protest, people were required to fill in documentation stating what they were intending to protest about.
People who filled in the paperwork were arrested and charged with crimes against the state. That would be hilarious if it wasn’t so sad.
To date no protests have been held in the park.
The facade that is the Chinese regime (and it’s no different to any other totalitarian regime) has been propped up with a lip-syncing cute kid because the real singer was too ugly, faked fireworks displays for TV, showing off children from all 56 cultural minorities in China until it was revealed that they were all, in fact, from the Han majority (90% of China) and were simply dressed up to look like minorities, and censorship of the Internet when they’d repeatedly told Olympics officials that access would be free and unfettered.
China intended to showcase what it’s about to the world. Unfortunately for the Chinese regime the message received is not what the Chinese thought they were sending.
The issue of performance enhancing drugs has again raised its ugly head at an Olympics. The Greeks have taken the gold medal lead for most athletes sent home (or not allowed to compete) due to positive drugs tests – 15. The number of medals that China has won and especially in power sports such as weightlifting makes one wonder about the validity of their efforts though it has been an impressive spectacle watching their women lift such huge weights.
>Unfortunately for all the world’s cricket lovers, Indian cricket authorities have taken things to a new low with their ridiculous shenanigans following their Second Test loss in the final few minutes of the game in Sydney on Sunday.
International cricket is in turmoil with the Indian cricket board suspending its team’s tour of Australia and media calls for Australian captain Ricky Ponting to step down.
Last night the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) flexed its muscles by suspending the tour pending the outcome of spinner Harbhajan Singh’s appeal against his three-match ban for racially abusing Andrew Symonds.
Harbhajan Singh was reported for calling Andrew Symons a ‘monkey’, the same taunt that the crowds used against Symons during Australia’s last tour of India. Neutral umpires made the report, the incident was referred to the match referee and Singh was found guilty. Australian authorities have absolutely nothing to do with the decision.
People may not be aware that Indian cricket board, the BCCI, effectively runs world cricket and is using this non-incident in order to leverage more power from the International Cricket Council. For the BCCI to suspend the team’s tour shows the depths that India’s cricketing authorities are now plumbing in order to flex their muscles.
Why do we have neutral umpires in the first place? Because teams touring India and Pakistan in the pre-neutral umpire days couldn’t get a fair go. There wasn’t a problem with umpiring in Australia or England or the West Indies at the time. The number of crazy LBW decisions that finally led to the introduction of neutral umpires was a stain on sub-continental cricket’s reputation.
Pakistani authorities complain about incompetent umpiring because they had a few decisions go against them but don’t look at the other side of the ledger to see if there was anything that went for them. Ponting’s dismissal was clearly not out. Did Ponting carry on like a pork chop? No. He accepted the decision and off he went.
Peter Roebuck’s ridiculous assertion that Ricky Ponting should be replaced as captain indicates to me that this normally (or formerly?) very good cricket journalist has let a few sheep out of the top paddock. Any fair assessment of the various incidents that took place in the series so far could come back with any judgement other than Australia plays ‘hard but fair’ and Ponting captains the same way.
Does anyone remember the way India’s captain at the time, Sourav Ganguly, behaved during Australia’s last tour there? Contemptuous. Arrogant. Unsporting. Unseemly. Ungentlemanly. He did more to damage India’s cricketing reputation than any other single player for many a year. Did the ACB carry on about Ganguly? No. It’s part of the game.
Get over it. Get on with it.
The Collingwood Army is looking for a better season than we’ve had recently in which we’ve shown promise but have not made the grade at the business end of the season. Looking at the talent we’ve brought in I’d have to say that we look like also-rans again but that won’t stop me barracking hard for them to do well!
For those that don’t know much about the sport, check out these action shots of players sailing into the sky to mark the ball.
Just another day at the office. Don’t believe they’re real photos? Check out some live action…