Tag Archives: olympics

Olympic Moments

Why is it I slavishly watch sports that I am interested in exactly once every four years? How many 100-metre races do I watch in between Olympics? Precisely zero, that’s how many. But come Olympic time, I will watch fencing, shooting, weightlifting, archery and a myriad of other sports that if I came across them while channel surfing at other times, I would complain there was nothing to watch.

So what’s the attraction? Is it the contemptible judging of boxing?  (I once heard of a fight awarded to the guy who was knocked out.) Or is it the steroid popping field and strength sports? I don’t know, but I have tuned in ever since I can remember. In recent history, I marveled first hand at the spectacular Sydney games. When it was Athens turn I watched Israel and Dominican Republic score their first-ever gold medals and saw a German kayaker win her 8th gold medal at all 6 Olympics she has competed at. On to Beijing, and my wife and I had a delightful evening at the horse jumping in Hong Kong – cheering on people I had never heard of before, in a sport I may never watch again. Stirring stuff.

As we move to London 2012, it simply can’t be a bigger ‘event’ than Beijing, that’s just not economically possible. Maybe there is a unique opportunity to bring the Olympics back to what it was designed for – a showcase of athletic talent, rather than the razzmatazz of opening and closing ceremonies, or athletes’ pharmaceutical prowess.

However it goes, what will I be watching it all as I settle in at night while the family sleeps? Let me first detail what I will not be watching:


Give me a break, with grudging apologies to all the tennis fans (including my wife) I just can’t get enthused over a sport where if the crowd utters a peep during a serve, the player throws a wobbly.  In any event, there are enough professional tournaments, without having to have multi-millionaire tennis babies spitting Olympic size dummies.


Get rid of it. It’s the soccer of martial arts.

Someone delivers a knee kick or low blow and the competitor falls, writhing around the floor like a stuck pig and when no penalty comes, up he gets ready to continue.  A penalty should only be awarded for the loss of an eye or a digit.

Greco-Roman wrestling – aka brokeback wrestling:

Who doesn’t love seeing a couple of sweaty blokes dressed in spandex swimwear roll around the floor? But really, as I understand it, the Greek glory days are over 2000 years behind us and the Romans, not that much after. Give it up lads – move on.


What is this? The 1980’s? If I want to see a bunch of spiky haired morons wearing their undies above their pants, I’ll buy a skateboard and hang out at the local park. This is not an Olympic sport.

What I will be watching, does need to be revamped for the 21st century:


What a bunch of aristocratic show-ponies. Get rid of the pretentious French for a start. “En garde!” Give me a break. Sharper weapons and less protection are what we need.   Competitors should reasonably expect to die in this sport.


Pistol shooters should use a Smith and Wesson six-shooter, John Wayne style. The pistols nowadays don’t look remotely scary. They should be using a gun you could rob a 7-11 with, should you need to.

Women’s Beach Volleyball:

No complaints

Geographic Malfunctions

Do you know where Australia is?  Would you like to know?

I was in my travel agent’s office the other day and saw an imposing poster: “European Package” it proudly proclaimed in 3” letters. Below were the glossy photos to entice you to visit the wonder that is Europe: The Eifel Tower, Big Ben… and a kangaroo.

OK, for full disclosures sake, I’m an Australian. I am also a realist. Australia is right down the bottom of the list when it comes to globally significant countries. But people, we are not in Europe!

It borders on a national obsession, recounting stories of tourist misconceptions. I have personally been told, on disclosing my nationality, that my English is quite respectable – in that slightly loud way people like to talk to non-English speakers, (as if volume is the secret to learning languages).

There are some outstanding stories from the Sydney Olympics in 2000 – Tourists turning up with Austrian currency and complaining the Vienna Boys’ Choir was nowhere to be found, questions to travel agents asking if milk was available – or should they bring their own; and my personal favourite (although I suspect apocryphal) is the story of the American lady who turned up for her Olympic experience – in Sydney, Nova Scotia.

So here it is folks: Australia is an Island in the Southern Hemisphere, we are a multicultural society where English is the official language, you can’t walk from Sydney to Perth, unless you want to die, as in between is an extremely large desert. There are no kangaroos in the streets of Sydney, (but quite a few in the restaurants, if you catch my drift). It is stinking hot at Christmas, and while it’s true we have a fairly large group of poisonous snakes, spiders, plants, and fish, you are unlikely to meet them sipping on a latte in a Melbourne café. (Yes, we also have coffee in Australia).

I do wonder in the Internet age why there are so many people who simply don’t know where things are. I perfectly understand why you wouldn’t know where Lichtenstein is – I don’t know myself, but geographically, Australia is the 6th largest country in the world, more than twice as large as India and 48,000 times bigger than Lichtenstein.

Australia is also a delightful place to visit, the people are friendly, and the weather is excellent. Remember, we speak passable English, or at least our version of it, so don’t be surprised at my superb grasp of written English, (but I concede if you are an English teacher, you may be thinking the opposite). So don’t be fooled by your Travel Agent, kangaroos are not European.

If you want to go to Australia, or simply impress your friends by knowing where it is, follow these straightforward instructions:

Log on to your computer and open Google maps.  Go left at America and when you get to Japan, head south. It’s the huge place at the bottom (no, not the Antarctic, you have gone a country too far!)

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