Finally, the Paralympics will be starting tomorrow night! I’m not sure why there has been such a delay, I was starting to worry that Rio would have started dismantling their Olympic Village but hopefully not. I’m not sure what happens to me during Olympic season but I do become a little bit sport obsessed. Ordinarily I would never watch competitive cycling or care less about diving but when it is an Olympic event I’m all over it!
My love of Olympics is mainly due to my parents love for Athletics and I have fond memories of them rooting for Daley Thompson and Fatima Whitbread who were flying the flag for GB in my childhood. Nowadays, our GB stars are much bigger celebrities mainly due to London 2012 putting Great Britain on the map and reducing the size of Tom Daley’s swimming trunks over night!
My own children love the Olympics with my son having attended the London Paralympics with my parents when he was 8 and as my twins turned 9 this year they became drawn into the events playing out on the TV during the Rio coverage. We were on holiday in Norfolk the week it was on and had to literally drag my youngest son away from the TV each morning as he settled down to watch a cocktail of Judo, Fencing, Hockey or Pole Vault.
Team GB did amazingly well this year but am I the only who thought that the coverage was a bit OTT and fairly harsh at times? Due to the time difference the live events were on during the night and if you did have the stamina to stay up until 2am to watch the likes of Usain Bolt and Mo Farah you were also treated to Dan Walker from BBC Breakfast trying to fill hours of awkward airtime on Copacabana Beach. In fact, BBC Breakfast was renamed Olympic Breakfast during the events as presenters interviewed the likes of Jessica Ennis-Hill’s next door neighbour and Carol brought us the weather whilst trying out a kayak on the Thames.
It is quite incredible that we made it into second place with our ‘gold rush’ of medals but it did seem that the media was never satisfied. British commentators were complaining about athletes only achieving a silver or bronze and dedicating about an hour’s conversation on whether Jessica Ennis-Hill should retire now as she only managed second place. That still makes her the second best heptathlete in the world! On the flipside, media from around the world became suspicious of our glory and why we were achieving gold medals, however, if they looked at our athletes faces when they did win a gold they were more shocked than anyone!
I love how the Great British public become experts in random sports each year, especially me. Having never learnt to dive myself, I was more than confident to berate Tom Daley on ‘too much splash’ when taking his dive as well as telling synchronised divers how ‘out of time’ they were. And this year we even had the added bonus of the suspect green water debate and the bizarre use of the Jacuzzis tucked behind the boards, which often had some random bloke sitting in it reminding me of why I often swerve the Jacuzzi in public pools as there is always someone who spends too much time in there!
There were so many highlights for me this year. The gymnastics were incredible with a Basildon boy sweeping the golds by, amongst other things, holding his own body in the air using just his wrist. But for me, the cycling was super addictive. Possibly because we were so good at it but mainly because the rules are completely bonkers! A sporting event that takes place in an arena that sounds like its straight from Blade Runner – The Velodrome – where cyclists are placed on enhanced skinny bikes and led into position. They then run circles against each other like crazed gerbils as the viewing public try and work out what is happening. My apologies to any cycling experts reading as I should just Google the rules, but what was with the kerb crawling race? One cyclist starts the race by pedalling slowly along all the while sneaking a look over their shoulder whilst the opponent cyclist creeps up on them, after a lap of two of this cat and mouse game they then race like lunatics to try and overtake each other. Seemed completely mental to me but probably the only race I stayed up late to watch.
I am really looking forward to the Paralympics as for me it is when the real super humans take part. I watched coverage of an athlete training on the news today who had no legs but he is taking part in the triathlon! I am just sad that BBC didn’t feel it was high profile enough to put it on the main programme and instead C4 will be hosting the coverage. I just hope Clare Balding has jumped ship to carry on the coverage as she seems to be the only commentator I was able to stomach.
My 12 year old son came home from school today moaning about the Olympics which was weird as he loved the coverage. When I asked him why, he said that his teachers were all using Mo Farah as an example in lessons and it was driving all the kids mad. Apparently, whatever the problem the student was having and whatever the subject, Mo taking a stumble in his race and getting back up again and winning the gold was being overused as an incentive for children ‘to tackle their own obstacles’! Personally, I thought it was a fairly genius teaching method.