I’m not normally the biggest sports fan around, but the Olympics has got me interested. It’s not been hard to get interested in the last few days, with Australia picking up swags of medals. Makes up for the pathetic performance of the first few days. Now as of the time of writing we’re ranking seventh in the world (yesterday we got as high as fifth) – which I think is pretty damn good for a pissy little country of 18 million people. At least now we’re beating Belgium.
Actually, it’s interesting how the medal tally listed on the evening news showed the top six yesterday, but now we’ve fallen to seventh seems to show the top seven.
Channel 7 will be pleased. At last their almost xenophobic coverage, giving anything in which an Australian is mentioned priority over just about anything else, is paying off. Every medal ceremony with an Aussie is shown live, of course. But it’s probably the same in every country. And it works – it brings a lump to the throat as Advance Australia Fair pumps over the PA in Atlanta while the flag slowly ascends.
Don’t you love when your country’s about to win gold, and the two commentators start shouting over each other in an effort to be the one heard on all the news reports that night? And presumably they hope to be The Voice on the archive footage for years to come.
The one gold medal that’s really captured the headlines was Kieran "I write my name on my milk" Perkins, who won the 1500 metres freestyle. (I presume that’s swimming.) The TV and newspapers have gone Keiren-mad. I think it’s gone a bit too far. We may have a bit of a Keiran surplus. The nation may be a little Perkined-out by now.
In fact, I distinctly heard Sandy Roberts say that Kieren had "the heart of Phar Lap" – a phrase that H.G. used jokingly on Club Buggery a few weeks ago. Of course, there’s no real evidence that KP has had the great horse’s heart transplanted into him. If he had, we’d be shouting more about our medical technology than sporting prowess.
Probably by now everyone outside Australia is wondering if I’ll mention any other countries. Yep. I can’t go past the efforts of the mother-country, Great Britain. They’re not exactly blitzing the competition, are they? How are the Poms ranking? 26th? Just above Moldavia or someone? What the hell’s going on? Two medals?! What happened to Rule Britannia?
It’s just as well the economic rationalists haven’t got to the Olympic teams. What if they were to look at medal/participant ratios? They might decide it wasn’t worth sending a whole hockey team for a chance at winning only one medal – it’s better value to send more swimmers or runners.
No sign of an Olympic song this time round. Or maybe I’ve just been incredibly lucky at avoiding it. Or maybe I have heard it, but I thought it was just another obscure Optus or McDonald’s commercial with a world togetherness theme and a massacred John Lennon tune?
I remember Barcelona’s song, though I wish I didn’t. I don’t remember what the songs were for LA or Seoul… the one I do remember is Moscow’s in 1980. Now that was an Olympic song that captured some of the culture of the host country! And Kossack dancers in the video clip, if I remember rightly! What will it be for Sydney 2000? Rolf? Oils? Yothu Yindi? Daryl? Jack? Drag out an old tape of Peter Allen or Skyhooks? Who knows.
I’m still coming to the terms of the idea of Beach Volleyball as an Olympic sport. I mean beach volleyball? Do they play it on a real beach, or an artificial, astro-sand one? Maybe there’s room for other beach activities at the Games. Olympic paddling. Olympic sunbaking. Olympic sand-castle building?