One of my photos

A few more Olympic thoughts

August 14th, 2012 · Posted by Skuds in Life · 3 Comments · Life

The last couple of days of competition found my mind wandering a bit more.

Mountain biking

I was interested in this for a few reasons. For a start, the venue was very close to my old manor; some events were held in Greenwich, close to where I used to live, the road cycling went through Putney where I used to live but the mountain biking was near where I grew up. In addition, riding a mountain bike is one of only two things in the games that I have done in the last ten or so years, along with archery. I did all the track and field at school, along with football, hockey,tennis and a few others. I even had a go at kayaking once but riding a bike is about the only thing I can really identify with.

I must say, I was exhausted just watching it. I used to do 20 miles a day but I doubt I could tackle that course even at my peak, let alone do more than one lap. Apart from that ordeal, the competitors had to wait until the last two days to have a go, and only get one event. The whole venue only got used for two days, while others were used right the way through – a good job they are going to be keeping it for people to use.

It means that the mountain bikers can only have one crack at a medal, unlike swimmers, runners, and track cyclists, but at least they do it in one go unlike those sailors who are out for about 10 days in one event.


Maybe the purists will hate it and think it is all a bit Americanised, but I quite liked the music played when penalty corners were being taken. Tracks like Kashmir and Phat Planet really built up the atmosphere. I only played hockey a few times at school but I can’t remember anybody except the goalkeeper getting protective clothing. In the Olympics all the players who were going to cram into the goalmouth quickly put masks on which they ditched afterwards. Probably a very wise move, but I am now getting retrospectively worried for my safety 35 years ago.


How nice to see somebody look absolutely thrilled to get a bronze medal. I’m still bemused about it all though. All the dives look the same to me, and I’m still suspicious of any ‘sport’ which depends on somebody else giving marks. For me it puts the whole thing more in Strictly Come Dancing territory than sports. I’m not suggesting it is easy, but then neither is juggling or free running or skydiving. I kind of feel sorry for people with high levels of fitness, stamina and skill who have channeled it into something like skateboarding or surfing which will never get the kudos of featuring in an Olympics.

On the other hand, I’ve read a lot of books this year on how the mind works and how we make decisions – where we can make judgements very, very quickly about quite complex things that we probably couldn’t do if we thought too hard about them, as long as it is something we have a lot of expertise in. I’m guessing that the judges for this sort of event do quite a bit of that. Be interesting to see some sort of study because although it all looks quite arbitrary to us outsiders there does appear to be a quite a bit of consistency between the judges.


Never seen this before. Looks like a cross between football, rugby and basketball. At first glance it looks easy, but I bet it isn’t.


Handball with more chance of drowning during a game.


Didn’t this used to finish by going into the stadium for a lap of the track or am I imagining that?


We have had two weeks of everybody talking on TV about the sporting legacy of the games, and sportsmen and sportswomen enjoying crowds and TV audiences far in excess of what they get in the four years between games. Why is it that the only regular mass audiences for sports are for football, rugby, cricket and F1? Is it TV’s fault for not showing them prominently and promoting them, or our fault for not generating a demand? Maybe you can get hockey, cycling and volleyball if you subscribe to sports channels, but if you don’t then you never come across these sports.


About those little bunches of flowers that medal winners get. Phelps’ hotel room must have looked like Mariah Carey’s dressing room by the end of the swimming events. I didn’t see the medal ceremonies for everything, so I didn’t get the pleasure of seeing three 25-stone hammer throwers all clutching posies, but I thought of it a few times.



3 Comments so far ↓

  • Peter

    You can get Cycling on Eurosport. And now in HD. It is much more popular in the more advanced countries in Europe, of course. They broadcast good coverage of Le Tour, the Giro and the Vuelta as well as the spring classics etc. But it’s not always that good a spectator sport, although I like to watch Le Tour for the fabulous scenery and the sprint stages for fantastic finishes (usually), made more interesting if Cav is there.
    Eurosport and Eurosport HD is included in Virgin Media packages (definitely XL, not sure about the others), and if you have a Tivo you can record everything in HD and fast forward through the ads and the boring bits!

    • Skuds

      I’ll have to keep an eye out. One thing the games has done for me is remind me that sports other than footie can be interesting to watch.

      To be honest, I don’t find road cycling much good as a spectator sport but I could get to enjoy the chess-on-wheels of the velodrome.

      Funny how all our most popular televised sports are not Olympic events at the moment (snooker, darts, rugby, golf, F1) except football and tennis which probably shouldn’t be, what with all the participants being about as far from amateur as you can get.

      • Peter

        Yes, for me, and I know it’s not popular but both football and cricket receive way more attention than they deserve. The cricket reporting on R4 drives me nuts. It’s probably driven by BBC establishment thinking. And I think that football is no longer as popular as it was, but schedulers have not caught up. I do hope that the velodrome cycling gets more attention as, although some of it is quite bizarre, it is fast and can be exciting.