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Olympic and Mix: What In the Wide Wide World of Sports?!

Posted: 02/08/2012 02:26

After the grand spectacle that was Friday night, it was almost easy to forget that there was actual sport coming after it. And, with the exception of the very first event, women shooting at a bit of paper in an atmosphere vacuum, the other weird and wonderful sports has been very watchable. So much so that nobody could be arsed about the football.

The swimming has been the main draw so far, as there's something very relaxing, hypnotic even, about looking at eight people swimming back and forth in basic unison. Well, unless you're Chinese, in which case you're out of the pool and chillin in the jacuzzi by the time the rest have only done their first flippy thing at the edge.

The success of Ye Shewin (with a name pronounced like Yeah, she win, small wonder she's getting gold everywhere) notwithstanding, the star of the swimming have been of course Michael Phelps, who is now officially the best Olympian ever having amassed more medallions than anyone else, including The Bee Gees. Interestingly Ryan Lochte, who has been billed as his arch rival youngster nipping at the heels of the retiring old master Phelps, is the same flamin' age.

Relaxing as it is though, swimming also terrifies me a bit. The 17 year old hotshoe Missy Franklin, who roundly took the piss by the qualifiying for one final and winning gold in another in the space of about half an hour, is 6 ft 1 and has size 13 feet. Meanwhile back in studio, we've been led through all the action by Australian legend Ian Thorpe, with his winning combination of Olympic track record, intensity eyes, sharp (some might say pointy) dress sense and vague sexual ambiguity. And yet, despite being the old hand analyst up in the BBC's Olympo-Dome, he's not even turned thirty yet.

Thankfully the ravages of age aren't so unforgiving in my favourite category of sports so far: ones with a net. Why, just the last day I saw a volleyball player who looked as much as 32! The volleyballs, both beach and regular, are incredibly engaging, and not just for the reasons you think. In theory, volleyball looks like quite an easy game to score points in: you get one guy to fluff it up in the air for you, and then you whack it down the other side. I'm an expert in sporting terms, as you can see.

But of course before you can get to the fluffing and whacking, you need to not just face a pretty big ball coming at you at a crazy trajectory and at the same speed as a Vauxhall Corsa driving through a built up area, but you also have to direct it close enough to your teammate so that they can get at it. Goalkeepers have it easy in comparison.

Then of course there's the beach volleyball, which is something of a byword for legalised lechery. The fact they use Benny Hill music during the intervals does nothing to change this perception, nor does the fact Boris Johnson has commissioned paintings of the matches to be drawn up, the TV cameras catching the artist's handywork a few times over the weekend. But hey, what's the point of being a big city Mayor if you can't hire a man to paint semi-naked ladies? Despite all the thigh rubbing qualities, it's extremely high-octane and enthralling, and just the right length to stop you from mindlessly browsing the BBC's glorious red button options for multiple sports at once. It's like watching the Olympics in Elvis' house!

But so far the thing I've loved most about the Olympics is the belief of the BBC's broadcasters that having the event in London gives Team GB super powers. Prior to the success of Wiggo and rowers Heather Stanning and Helen Glover, shows were peppered with Del Boy-esque suggestions that the next event would be the one where Britain finally comes good, and general speculation about how just how much the home crowd getting behind them was akin to The Power of Greyskull. At one point, Gary Lineker said we could take heart from the fact the Germans hadn't won any yet either. That's right Gary, you give The Boche a jolly good thrashing!

Thankfully the debut gold is out of the way now so everyone can relax a bit, and better yet: the track and field events are also imminent. Looks like we'll all be captive to the glorious red button for a while yet.

 

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