I didn’t get to see as many winter olympics events as I would have liked because of limited coverage. Mostly I read about the sports, the competitors and winners. Not that medals are the be all and end all of the Olympics, but Team GB came home with 5 medals, 1 gold and 4 bronze.
One event wasn’t part of the official Olympics but was so cute and worth watching was the Ski Robot Challenge. It took place at a ski resort about 1hr away from Pyeongchang and had 8 teams competing from universities and companies. The skiing robots
had to be more than 50cm in height, be able to stand on their own two legs, have independent power systems, use skis and poles, and have joints that allowed them to bend their knees and elbows
Like toddlers skiing. Not only cute, but useful research too.
Woke up at 5.30am because we had an early start. We loaded up my suitcase and muji bag of things for people and the silent auction and were off at 7am. It being a public holiday the roads were relatively clear. I took a chance and asked reception if the room was ready and it was. I dumped my bags and joined the group for breakfast and part of their meeting.
Very interesting meeting but I and another meeting attendee had to leave at 11am to get a lyft to Wrigley to see the baseball game. A was at a downtown hotel and would meet me at our seats. I’m not sure why we needed to get to the park so early, we got there at 11.45am and they wandered off to their seats. I walked around the outside of the stadium, made my way inside and explored the concession stands. Lots of food–beer,hot dogs, snacks. Souvenir shops too. I got a goose island beer (had to look for it, it was mostly budweiser) and a giordano’s pizza–I asked for cheese and got pepperoni, sigh. Our seats were in the shade behind first base. The game started at 1.20pm, I had over an hour to wait. Again, not sure why the friends took that lyft so early.
It being Independence Day, there was a parade of military personnel, a display of an American flag that covered most of the field, and we stood for the National Anthem.
To be honest, I found the game boring. There’d be short bursts of action then long periods of waiting around for teams to get organised or change positions or talk strategy. It’s not continuous and makes the game very long, total I think this game was 3 hours.
The cubs were playing tampa bay rays. Cubs took a 1-0 lead but rays in one innings went up 1-6. It wasn’t till the end of the 9th innings that things got exciting. Cubs fought back to 5-6. Two out and two strikes there were people on bases. If the batter hit the ball far enough they’d have a chance to win. But in the end they didn’t so final score cubs 5 rays 6.
We took the red line to A’s hotel, stopping off to get some stuff at walgreens and visit cheesecake factory. Taxi to a blue line station, L to rosemont then taxi to the hotel.
A little tired but hungry. Walked over to the retail park 5mins from the hotel. There was a band and food stalls as people celebrated the holiday. We found seats at a mexican place and I had blackened shrimp quesadilla which was quite good.
Had a wine at the hotel bar and joined others to watch fireworks. Long day and tired.
I was reading a post about Ronnie O’Sullivan’s fastest 147, which may have been even faster than recorded. To remind ourselves, he made his first 147 at the Crucible at the 1997 world championship, at the record-breaking time of 5:20. Apparently the time is wrong. Going back 5 minutes 20 seconds from the end of play, ie when the last black was potted, gives a point when the other player was still playing. Which means the actual 147 took less time than 5:20:
5:05 if the clock started when he hit the first white
5:15 if the clock started when his opponent’s ball came to rest
Technology wasn’t as sophisticated in 1997. There at around the 3-minute mark is the Elonex logo, so the BBC must have been using Elonex computers then. Not the computer’s fault, it’s likely a human operator had to start the clock. I’m just blown away by seeing Elonex. It’s a name long ago buried in the past, like Amstrad or Sinclair or Commodore. I can’t remember if I ever bought an Elonex; they were good computers for that time. I wonder if they’re still in business.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s 5:05 or 5:15 or 5:20. The break is still worth watching. Deadspin positively gushes about Ronnie O’Sullivan, comparing him to Roger Federer, Lionel Messi, Brian Lara, LeBron James, and Mozart:
when in the zone, he seems to have mastered the natural universe around him. His play is symphonic, orchestral, balletic, majestic, beautiful.
In the days of only 4 terrestrial tv channels, I grew up watching a lot of afternoon sports like cricket and snooker. Ronnie O’Sullivan brought a lot to the sport, and is still going strong, winning the 2017 Masters.
It’s spring marathon season. Brighton was last weekend, Paris was yesterday, London is next weekend. Today is Boston, which is an anomaly in world marathons in that it’s run on a monday.
I’m mesmerised, watching how they let pedestrians cross the street in the middle of the marathon course. Effective and using low tech ideas. Just a few officials, a couple of signs, rope and a rectanglar box in the middle of the street. Very clever.
And talking about Boston, it’s the 5th anniversary of the bombing so #BostonStrong. The biggest finisher wasn’t Geoffrey Kirui or Edna Kiplagat (yay for Kenya) but bib #261, Kathrine Switzer, aged 70. Ms Switzer was the first woman to officially run Boston in 1967, having registerd as K.V. Switzer. The iconic photo of the race director trying to grab her mid-course seems so ridiculous now, but what she did for women’s sports was set a fantastic example and role model. 70 years old and she finished in 4:44:31. Amazing.
The Olympics finished. Didn’t watch a lot because the tv channel only showed the big sports like swimming and athletics. Very happy and proud that Team GB finished second in the medals table. So many greats, Katherine Grainger, Mo Farah, Andy Murray, Nicola Adams, Giles Scott, Max Whitlock, Nick Skelton, the divers, the hockey team and the entire cycling team. 67 medals in total, 2 more than London 2012, an impressive achievement for an away games.
Special shoutout to the 10 countries winning their first gold medals: Bahrain, Fiji, Ivory Coast, Kuwait (as Independent), Jordan, Kosovo, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Tajikistan, Vietnam. It’s easy to focus on the big countries and big crowd-pleasing sports, the achievements of the smaller countries and smaller teams is proportionately even larger. And what about Sakshi Malik, who won India’s first ever medal, a silver in wrestling. Imagine the difficulty she’s had to overcome.
The 2016 Olympics is here! Whilst there are undoubtedly problems due to many factors such as weather, illness, incompetence, corruption, the fact is that it’s an event that is worth getting excited about. I hope I can get my once-every-four-years fix of sports hardly seen on tv like handball, rowing, dressage. I’m also hoping that there is more coverage of the Paralympics, the athletes deserve so much more exposure.
Nostalgia time. Four years ago I experienced London 2012 at first hand, having been lucky enough to be in London at the right time and getting lucky with tickets. Been looking through my pics and posts. Pics: olympica | paralympics
Getting a last minute ticket to see beach volleyball at Horse Guards’. Got a nice seat, the atmosphere was carnival-like and for a change I didn’t mind the drunken loud people around me. Watched until the last game ended at almost midnight shivering in the summer chill. Saw two big US names: Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor.
I had tickets for 3 diving events, gave one set to Sis’ FIL. The first one was women’s 3m springboard final. First time at Olympic Park too, went there with mm early so we could explore. It was super sunday and I remember someone shouting that Andy Murray had just won the tennis gold medal and there were cheers all round.
Diving was quite spectacular but ended quite quickly. The second diving was women’s 10m platform final, I had 4 tickets so CC and M could join.
What was really enjoyable and eye-opening was going to see the Paralympics. I got a last minute ticket to see athletics. I’d never been to a track and field event in person. It was absolutely wonderful. Highlight was definitely David Weir winning the T54 1500m final.
I had a day pass at Olympic Park and managed to see tennis, football, wheelchair rugby (murderball) and goalball. All very different. Tennis was wheelchair players. Murderball was so exciting, I can’t believe it’s not shown more on tv. Football was 5-a-side and blindfolded. Goalball was played in absolute silence.
If I were still in London, I would have thought about going too. And I’ve never gone to a football match.
On Tuesday night, France came to Wembley to play a football match with England, four days after the terrorist attack in Paris, during which their own game with Germany was under attack at la Stade de France. While most people will agree that sports and politics shouldn’t mix, this time
football itself has been rather thrust forward into the vanguard of the response to the horror in Paris.
Kudos to the FA their french counterpart and the government, for the determination that the game will go ahead,
defiance, normality, business as usual: this was the message.
It was always going to be an emotional night. It was well known beforehand that the Duke of Cambridge, Cameron and the team captains would lay wreaths on the pitch; that there would be a minute’s silence; that the words of La Marseillaise would be shown on the big screen so England fans can sing with their counterparts.
I looked for videos of that. I did not expect to be so moved. Wonderful display of Liberté, égalité, fraternité. Yes, the words were mangled, the band wasn’t perfect. It was perfect:
it suited the often funny fraternity between France and England: our closest neighbour, but a sibling kind of relationship that leaves each afraid to say to the other how much we care, until something truly awful happens.
In the meantime, politicians, most especially Republican governors in America are portraying Muslims and Middle Eastern refugees as all terrorists and falling over each other to slam the door on Syrian refugees. Wow, that’s inhuman and cruel.
Oh, the final score was 2-0 to England. It didn’t matter. Marchons, marchons.
I took advantage of a little breeze and cloud cover to go to the park. It was still a bit of a struggle as the temperature was high and I was dripping with sweat very quickly. Argh.
Need something positive, and I came across an article in medium called the superhero runner. The author’s son (age 5) is British and was born in Japan and lived there till he was 2.5 years old. Naturally he feels a connection with Japan. His parents are also avid runners so when his homework was about his own personal real-life hero, he wrote about Yuki Kawauchi, the “maverick” civil servant runner from Saitama.
Kawauchi is fast, very fast. 2:08 at the 2011 Tokyo marathon, multiple victories in a year and a member of the Japan world championship team. He is also one to buck the system. In Japan, professional runners are part of a coporate or university team. Kawauchi still has a day job as a government clerk, pays for his own expenses and generally does things his own way.
Great role model for a 5 year old.
Even better news is that after his dad tweeted his homework, the folks at Japan running news passed on the image and Kawauchi sent a response:
I’m not quite the fastest in Japan yet but I’m very happy to hear that English children know and value that I try to be competitive and to never give up. I will keep trying to really become the fastest in Japan. Thank you.
London Marathon on Sunday. 35th anniversary of the first one, how time flies. And I remember the two winners at the end crossing the finishing line together holding hands, even though I can’t remember their names. I’m annoyed that it, like most major races, has been hijacked by charities. I recognise the need for charitable giving but forcing people to cough up or raise thousands of pounds as a condition of entry is ridiculous.
I didn’t watch the livestream, so I’m browsing around people’s home videos and interviews. The biggest moments for me are those of Paula Radcliffe. Starting with club runners, the first female club finisher at 2:36:55. No one cared that much about her time. The story of how a running store ran out of women’s running shoes after her world record in 2003 is one example of how she inspired so many to run.
I hope against hope that marathons don’t become over-commercialised and too focused on charities. The argument is I could race in lower profile races. That’s true. I do still want to experience the crowd and buzz of London one day.
This is too cute for words. Three year old Sophie Wong recites the taekwondo student creed at her academy in Leeds. I can’t really hear all the words said, but the enthusiasm is unmistakable. It’s great that 3- and 4-year olds are learning the discipline of martial arts.
Couple of inspiring running-related stories in the news, one in humid Miami and one in snowy Boston.
Miami: twin pushes disabled sister at half marathon
Spotted via runnersworld, the inspiring story of how a runner pushed her disabled sister to finish a half marathon together.
Twins Nichole and Jennifer Rider were both runners and athletes through school. In 1995, Nichole was in a car accident that paralysed her from the neck down. Eventually she regained enough mobility to kayak and handcycle. At last week’s Miami Half Marathon, Jennifer and a friend took turns pushing Nichole, the trio finishing the race in 2:06. They were racing to raise awareness for a new organisation Thumbs Up International that aims to match able-bodied runners, swimmers and cyclists with those who need help in participating in races.
I really like this idea, this is something I’d rather do than sign up for a charity place. I’m slow, so pushing or guiding someone will definitely slow me down even more, but I don’t mind. It’s also potentially challenging to match personalities too. Hmm, reminds me of a story idea I have on the backburner, of two people forced together to train and race in exactly the same scenario (able-bodied and less able-bodied).
Thumbs Up is Miami-based only right now, won’t be it great if the idea is picked up by one of the big races?
Boston: local bartender shovels Boston Marathon finish line
Boston and other parts of the northeast part of the US got hammered by snow this week. Someone took a pic of a good samaritan shoveling snow from the Boston Marathon finish line, which is permanently painted on a street. This led to a twitter search for #WhoShoveledTheFinishLine.
Boston Marathon has a very special place in the hearts of both the people of Boston and to runners, moreso after the bombing in 2013. The good samaritan was eventually identified as Chris Laudani, a local bartender, who said he cleared the finish line because it:
isn’t just a strip of paint in the road. It means so much more to us as a community of Boston and of runners
Ironically 4 out of 5 of his Boston Marathon finishes were as a bandit. There is a long tradition of banditing Boston, but that’s another discussion. He’s been offered an official place this year, so there’s a happy ending to the story.
It’s January. People make resolutions which inevitably include losing weight and exercising more. Newspapers and magazines are full of articles about the 10 ways to start running or 5 foods to eat instead of cake. The intentions are noble and grand; the tone of these articles at times seem condescending, but if it inspires someone, then it’s all for the good.
Except, apparently, women in the UK aged 14-40 are not exercising. Sport England conducted extensive research to find out that 2 million fewer women than men regularly participate in sports. Worryingly, there doesn’t seem to be such a big disparity in other European countries. They heard that one of the main reasons is that of body image and fear of judgement. With that in mind, they launched a campaign called this girl can:
to inspire women to wiggle, jiggle, move and prove that judgement is a barrier that can be overcome
The campaign includes videos showing real women of all ages, shapes and sizes exercising and enjoying the exercise. The beat of Missy Eliott’s Get Ur Freak On is combined with catchy inspiration quotes like “I jiggle, therefore I am” and “hot and not bothered” to get the inactive off their couches.
where highly mobile, athletic female bodies are performing for a male audience
I think that any campaign that gets people exercising and watching their health is a good thing. Healthcare shouldn’t be just about curing illness; it should also focus on improving health to prevent illness. Not enough money, resources or focus goes to the latter. With binge drinking in women increasing at an alarming rate, any effort to get them from the pub to the gym is worthwhile.
Will the campaign succeed? Let’s hope so. It needs more positive images and messages. I guess they had to use innuendos like “I kick balls” to grab attention when they should have focused on the friendship and camaderie of participating in a team sports. I like the one of the cyclist lapping everyone on the couch. I also like the one where a mum exercises in the living room with her kids [youtube]. There should be more emphasis on the benefits of exercise besides looks.
Will it change people’s attitude towards body image? That’s a longer battle to fight. I never understand the issues behind body image concern, although I know plenty of people who are worried about how other people see and judge them. I’m puzzled at why, for instance, mum spends so much money on eye gel, goes for dubious skin treatments and stands in front of the mirror for what seems like hours before going out. I try to tell her that no one on the street will give a damn about how her, and why on earth is she bothered about what the shop assistant thinks. I’ve come to the conclusion that people believe certain things and act in certain ways because they themselves are like that—people who are afraid of being judged on how they look are the ones who are guilty of judging others. This type of attitude is what needs to change.
Anyway, I have 6 miles to run this weekend. In my tatty t-shirt and cheap shorts. I will end up covered in sweat with my hair like a rat’s nest underneath my cap. I won’t look at anyone and I don’t think anyone will look at me.
I love cricket. Summer in the UK, in the days before internet and cable, was spent a) outside playing in the garden and b) sitting in front of the tv watching cricket. In those days there were only 3 tv channels and during cricket season, BBC2 showed the test matches all day. Cricket was a new sport to me then, but I had great teachers. Between the likes of Richie Benaud, Christopher Martin-Jenkins and a revolving chair of experienced commentators, I learned how the game worked, how to score, the terminology and strategy.
I never got the chance to play (aside from bowling a tennis ball at the garden wall occasionally) or to attend a game in person (the only time I made it to Lord’s was for Olympic archery) and I don’t follow the sport as much nowadays (cricket channel is an expensive add-on to my cable).
This week, the cricketing world was shattered by the news that Australian batsman Phil Hughes died after being hit at the side of his head by a bouncer. I don’t know why, I’m even more affected by this accident than normal. We read about tragedies all the time on the news and they are all extremely sad. This one came as such a shock that it’s hard to put my head around it. People don’t die playing cricket, and for this to happen to a 25 year old, world-class batsman, it’s so awful, so awful.
Around the world, people are paying tribute to Phil Hughes on twitter, instagram and social media by putting their bats outside. The images under the #putoutyourbats hashtag are fitting, dignified and very powerful. This is from former Australia captain Adam Gilchrist:
I don’t have a cricket bat (on this occasion, substituting a baseball bat is not appropriate) and I lost my cricket ball during the move back from London. So all I’ll do is pay my respects silently, and share on these images instead. This next one is from the New Zealand team:
The World Cup is here. Football players are well-paid professionals nowadays, with the emphasis on well. But within living memory, before the money-grabbing premiere league, were times where words like P&L statement has no place on the pitch. Like the day Harry Redknapp brought a fan on to play for West Ham.
tl;dr version for Americans and others unfamiliar with or not interested in football: the coach of a well-loved but perpetually underperforming sports team plucked a loyal fan from the sidelines to play with the team when there were too many injuries in a match. And the fan scored a goal.
This is the stuff legends (and tear-jerker films) are made of.
When asked if I follow football and if I have a team, I usually say no, which is close to the truth. I like watching highlights but have trouble sitting through an entire match unless I’m really bored. If I really, really had to pick a team I’d say West Ham accompanied by a small, embarrassed smile. Not that I can name any of the Hammers players currently on the roster, mind. Two reasons: a) Sir Trevor Brooking; b) I went to school with Bobby Moore’s daughter; I guess both make some weird sort of sense.
After almost a year, I finally got round to dealing with pics from August / September 2012. Olympics, Prague, Provence, Paris, London and Paralympics. There is also a folder of misc pics that I want to sort too.
Anyway, full Olympics set, 195 photos, 12 videos. Includes Olympic torch, screenshots from opening ceremony, beach volleyball, archery and both diving finals (3m and 10m). There’s still the Paralympics pics to sort.
What a difference one year makes. 15 April 2012 I ran the Brighton Marathon in 5.05, still a PR and re-reading the race report, a race I thoroughly enjoyed. 15 April 2013 I barely made it through 5k. Everyone is probably sick of reading about my running failures in the past year so I’ll stop now.
Very sad to read about the 23 year old runner who collapsed and died at Mile 16 at Brighton. I don’t know whether it’s more runners, more frequent occurrence, or the sensationalism aspect but it seems like there are far too many reports of marathon deaths lately. And with it, discussions about whether people should be exercising so intensely, even questioning why people run marathons in the first place. Not going there.
Even sadder news, that 2 bombs went off at the finish line of Boston. Shocked. Very sad. The explosions were timed for maximum carnage—at around 4hrs of a fast race there’d be lots of people finishing and lots of spectators at the side. Who does things like this? Boston, in addition to being one of the oldest and most prestigious marathons in the world, is the one where everybody agrees has the best supporters. The whole city comes out to cheer on the runners. The spirit of community is out in force after the explosions as people are offering their homes for people needing a place to stay.
London is this coming weekend. Already security is being stepped up. I hope stringent security isn’t a sign of things to come and runners aren’t discouraged to enter this and other marathons. One of the reasons the marathon majors (6 now) are so prestigious is the sheer amount of support of spectators along the course. A course 26.2 miles long in the middle of a bustling city is impossible to close down in the security sense—too many buildings, parks, rubbish bins, bridges and other city stuff. Do we want to move races to walled off highways with no view, no space for spectators and where the officials seem to be more intent on getting the last runner off so they can clear the road for car users to pollute the air again? No, no and no. That’s why I have no interest in running the most soulless marathon in the world, even though it’s cheap and easy logistically.
Thoughts are with the dead and injured. Please, no more violence.
I missed the parade of heroes because the movers were here packing and I barricaded myself in a corner in the kitchen. They were done by mid-afternoon. The flat is now full of boxes ready to be loaded to the truck tomorrow. I’ve gone for groupage shipment so it won’t be the container that arrives in the morning. They will load my stuff into the next available container and I may have to share with other people.
The movers left the TV and bed. I looked at the schedule and there is nothing worth watching. No Clare Balding, no Lexi guide, no overly eager 5-min segments explaning the difference between the two types of rugby wheelchairs, no one running incredible races or swimming their hearts out or playing blindfolded ball games. And sob no Last Leg sob. #isitok to have gotten addicted to the most un-PC coverage of disabled sports?
I woke up early and was out of the door by 8.30am. Ah, rush hour on the tube. Had to remind myself not to go to Stratford and get on the DLR for Excel instead. Excel was much, much quieter than the Olympic Park, the security and everything else was efficient.
The only event taking place was boccia. Amazing game. Very slow, very quiet. Similar to bowls, and played by athletes with obvious great disability. It’s quite entrancing actually. I stayed for about half an hour. Then headed to the opposite hall for team table tennis. Both men and women’s matches, standing and wheelchair. Quite a job to keep track of 4 matches at the same time. Both matches involving China had them surging on in front quickly, they would win them easily.
It was only 11am, and time for sport #3. Wheelchair fencing was amazing. The fencers weren’t allowed to come out of their wheelchairs. Each bout was 3mins, and to be honest, it took way longer to get them ready beforehand. There were 8 fights at the same time, it was a women’s team match with 3 team members each team fighting every member of the other team. With 9 bouts in total, there was a lot of volunteers running around and fixing wheelchairs. Vocal support for Team GB, who got hammered by top seed #1. Strange tug of loyalties for me, teehee.
I didn’t need lunch, having packed a bagel and bought fruit at M&S. The stalls were a bit sad, more about that later. Watched a bit more boccia and the end of the table tennis matches before heading back to the fencing semi-finals. Got a better seat this time, to watch the GB team as well as the extremely close HK vs China semi-final. Then it was across the hall to sitting volleyball. Watched the first set of Morocco vs Rwanda, then headed home. Could have stayed, GB was up next, but it was more than an hour away.
That was the problem with Excel. Unlike Horseguards or Lord’s, which were single events, it was sort of like the Olympic Park but much less so. The best things were that it was indoors and the walking between venues was less. Not a lot of atmosphere though, it was like going to a business conference and going from room to room taking in the various ongoing events. The sports and athletes were the same level of amazing though, from the severely impaired boccia players to the athleticism of the single-armed table tennis players.
In a way, I’m glad Excel was my last Olympic and Paralympic experience. If it were at the Park, I’d be more emotional. As it was, I just wanted to get home. It had been an inspiring, humbling summer of sports. I’ll never get to experience this again, and words can’t describe my feelings are about all the sports and venues I’ve watched.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that all good plans never work out the way they were planned.
I got to the park around 10.30am to learn that there were no day pass seats left at the Riverbank for the 5-a-side football. So there went my well laid plans. A quick look at my schedule, and it was over to Eton Manor for the wheelchair tennis. OMG, it was a scorching day, we were all sitting right under the sun, and I’m sure I turned 3 shades darker. But what about the tennis? It was brilliant! All the rules of able-bodied tennis, except the ball is allowed to bounce twice. The skills and speed were great. I saw the #1 seed from France play the #3 seed from the Netherlands. The match was won by the French athlete.
By then I was desperate to get away from the sun. Over to the basketball arena to watch Australia vs Sweden in murderball. What a great match! Lots of banging, the wheelchairs really got a hammering. And lots of strategy too. Ryley Batt from Australia murdered the opposition (pun intended) and Australia won comfortably.
There was enough time to run back to the Riverbank to catch Brazil vs Argentina in the blindfolded 5-a-side football. Now I worry about Rio2016. I was sitting behind a Brazilian family and they had absolutely no discipline. In blindfolded football the crowd has to remain quiet so the players can hear the clinking of the ball, but this family kept talking, the kids whining and climbing all over the seats. The match was a 0-0 draw, and it went to penalties, which Brazil won. Very skillful playing, imagine dribbling and shooting in the dark. Huge admiration.
It was by then 5.30pm, and I was pleased I’d seen 3 of the 4 sports on my list for today. Logically it’s over to the Copperbox to see goalball, but emotion won out. 7pm was the start of the murderball match between GB and France. It was very close, and the noise of the crowd stunning. Yes of course it’s home advantage, and we have used it, and will intend to use it, as much as we could.
I left at halftime. There was just enough time to go see goalball. More quietness. All I can say is, what a strange sport.
It was 8.45pm and time to head home. I still have Excel tomorrow so it’s not goodbye to the Paralympics. It is goodbye to the Olympic Park. I’d visited 4 times, walked miles and miles, from Orbit Circuit to Eton Manor. Sat at Park Live to watch the screen. Bought expensive beer and food. My lasting memory, I can’t pick on just one. It’s been amazing. Coming to see diving on that first day with mm was magical (and hot and bewildering). Watching the athletics on Tuesday was another piece of magic. The Paralympics was another highlight. I had a terrific time, a terrific day, have the utmost respect for all the athletes, feel so utterly proud to be British and privileged to have seen both Games in person.
I’ll be at the Paralympics for the next 2 days, the 2 day passes that were originally all I got. Olympic Park tomorrow and Excel on Friday. Access to sports other than athletics, swimming and cycling. I had thought that I should just go, walking around and see what’s available. But with visitors topping 1 million, some strategic planning is needed.
I don’t plan to be there too early, probably around 10-11am. At Olympic Park, the choices are 5-a-side football, goalball, wheelchair tennis and wheelchair rugby. Studing the schedule and what teams have been announced:
11.00-12.15: 5-a-side football, China vs GB
4.00-6.00: wheelchair tennis
7.00-end: wheelchair rugby, France vs GB and Japan vs USA
A little bit of football is enough for me. Goalball is supposed to be quiet and relaxing. Tennis goes on all day, so it was useful to schedule. The first wheelchair rugby, aka murderball match started today, and it looks very interesting.
11.00-12.15: fencing, including a HK vs GB match
12.30-3.00: table tennis
7.00-end: sitting volleyball
Again, the intriguing and new sports is boccia, probably the exact opposite of murderball. That murderball might end up being my new love.
It was impossible to resist, there were paralympics athletics tickets on sale last week. I’d never been to a track and field event before, and of course there is the opportunity of being inside the Olympic Stadium. My seat was in row 10, very close to the track, at the top end of the back straight where 200m races start. Would have liked to be on the other side, but it’s fine. Especially since I had an end seat overlooking one of the tunnels where athletes come out.
Field events took place all evening — 2 men’s shot put final (F35/38, I think and F40); men’s F20 long jump, which was nearby on my left and women’s F35/38 discus which took most of the field of play. Not a lot of attention from the announcers or screens, they went about their competition quietly. Well except the long jumpers, who got clapped on their approach run.
The track events got the bulk of the attention. There were final after final, in many different classes. There was a 100m, a couple of 200m and 400m but mostly 1500m. Every time a GB athlete competed, the noise of the crowd rose 1 million decibels. The most cheers were understandably for David Weir in the T54 1500m final, and when he raced to gold, it was pandemonium. So moving.
GB also won a silver and 2 bronzes on the night. The Russians did well, as did the Kenyans, Brazilians, and Assia El Hannouni of France, who won her third gold medal in T12 400m before retiring. Every so often there’d be a victory ceremony, a good opportunity to stand up and stretch our legs. The 2 Brazilians who won the 200m T11 race had the best celebration, I’d never seen anyone so happy at wnning medals. Lots of cheers for everyone, and they all deserved them.
Ran 12k around Hyde Park, and spent the rest of the day watching the Paralympics. The standout moments today — medals in the velodrome for GB, wheelchair basketball (my new love), T11 athletes running with their guides, Aled Davies of Wales receiving his discus gold medal from the Duchess of Cambridge. And that class 7 table tennis final between GB’s Will Bayley and Germany’s Joachen Wollmert. Will Bayley had endeared the entire nation yesterday with his unabashed joy at winning his semi-final, running and jumping up to his coach. He was understandably distraught at losing the final. The great moment for me was Joachen Wollmert, almost twice Will’s age (47 vs 24), who coaxed the weeping Briton up from the floor and acknowledged him to the crowd. Terrific sportsmanship.
As the Games progress, I’m learning more about the classification system. For instance I can now tell the difference between T13 and F46 in athletics as well as the various S-classes in swimming. The guides from the various newspapers helped, and certainly the graphical lexi interface on Channel 4 has been useful. I’m slowly warming up to C4’s coverage, still not happy about the ad breaks and the presenters talking over each other, to give them credit they are trying very hard. And hey, Clare and Ade in the evening works for me.
Watched quite a bit of Paralympics today. I only get one of the channels, and all Channel 4 seemed to be showing was swimming, cycling and athletics. Tiny bit of football and wheelchair basketball. A very emotional day, all the big stars performed — Oscar Pistorius set a world record in his first round 200m race, Ellie Simmond’s world record freestyle, Team GB cyclists and equastrian athletes.
The second was Richard Whitehead’s gold medal in the T42 200m, how he simply powered through once he got going and round the bend. Visually, it was stunning, running through 2 other athletes. Tearjerking stuff.
Watched the London 2012 Paralympics Games opening ceremony. It was on Channel 4, so there were differences between that coverage and the BBC’s for the Olympics. Some of the presenters were the same (Clare Balding, yay!) but overall it wasn’t as good, primarily because the commentary was poor and, ugh, there were ad breaks.
The theme of discovery and ideas was thoughtful and beautiful. Highlights for me were: Stephen Hawking’s words, Princess Anne waving her scarf and the countries represented by wild card athletes — the first country in the parade, Afghanistan and the single female athlete representing Syria. It’ll be a great next 10 days.
I went to olympic archery competition at Lord’s yesterday. It’s nice to have an event so close to home. It normally takes me about 10mins to run there on my way to Regent’s Park, and walking it’s about 20mins. I was quite early so no delays with going through security and looking at the shops. There’s a small area where spectators could try out archery, and they just opened so no wait. My first 2 shots were inside the yellow zone, then I got distracted and my last 2 were outside in the red and blue zones.
My seat was very high up (3rd from top of stand) and right at the shooting line. It was wet and rainy and the seats were wet. It was a long session, with 10 matches in the first and second rounds. The course is 70m long and we could hear the shots, but like on TV had to rely on the screen to see where it hit the target. There were various competitors in both men’s and women’s competition from a great mix of countries including Norway, USA, India, China, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia and 2 from Team GB. Interesting morning.
Canoeing, table tennis, weightlifting are the new sports I saw today. It’s also the cross country day of the equestrian event. Cross country is being held at Greenwich Park across the river from Olympic Park. Oh what a beautiful course, glorious.
Did some running in the morning in the showery weather, then settled for a day of Olympics on tv. So lucky that I have the BBC. Waking up on Saturday to comments that coverage of the opening ceremony in other countries weren’t as good was a bit shocking. NBC cutting the Abide with me segment was insulting and insensitive. I watched the whole ceremony live with no interruptions and sensible commentary.
On the BBC website, we’re supposed to be able to watch 24 channels of streaming coverage, although all it did was crash my flash plugin. I only have freeview so I have a limited of extra channels on my red button — during the day I have 3 channels in total, at night 4. Still, I’ve managed to catch 22 out of the 37 sports, which I think is wonderful. Some of them haven’t started, I’m hoping that I can at least watch a segment of every sport. The 22 so far:
cycling – road
Some of those were brief segments, most of the morning was watching Team GB lose in various sports. Again, it was cycling that got my attention, keen to not let yesterday’s men’s road race disappointment dwell. And wow, the women’s race was edge of seat stuff. Tactical attack, torrential rainfall and a sprint finish. In Beijing, the first British medal was by a female road cyclist and this time it’s no different, Lizzie Armitstead winning silver. So proud, so happy.
The evening turned better. Becky Adlington winning bronze, the men’s football team 3-1 against the UAE, news of preliminary successes for Ben Ainslie in sailing, the rowing team, boxing and eventing.
The biggest heartache is the news that Paula Radcliffe is out of the marathon through injury. She’s such a giant and role model that I’m truly distraught. I know she didn’t stand a chance, but she’s Paula, you know. Sigh.
The public row over empty seats continue, and I feel that the public should, and will, keep giving this issue the high attention it needs. Sounds like it’s not corporate sponsors but the Olympic “family” that are hogging all those seats, and without fail, they are the best seats. Someone need to be held accountable for this. Complete shambles.
The plan was to watch all the Olympic games on TV, but the disappointment over the men’s road race took the steam out of that plan. I didn’t want to hear about how Cav didn’t get any medal all over the broadcast tonight. Idly, I clicked through the ticketing site half searching for returns and any games available. I wanted basketball, even though it’s too far away. Looked for events in this part of town — badminton at wembley, volleyball at earl’s court and beach volleyball at horse guards. It was 4pm, and there were tickets for beach volleyball at 8pm. They only give you 2mins to decide on whether to take the tickets, and it did take me the whole 2mins.
Horse Guard Parade is only 45mins away, but there wasn’t a lot of time. Had to get there early to physically collect the tickets and go through security. There was a lot of traffic too, so I didn’t get there till almost 6pm. The line for ticket collection took a whole hour! Security was fast though and I was inside, got some water and fish’n’chips and in my seat by the time the first game started.
The first game was men’s Brazil vs Norway. The stadium was quite full, except the usual sight of the best seats (Olympic “family” and sponsors) left empty. Disgusting really. My seat was behind one of the ends and not too high up.
The game was exciting, with the commentator drumming up the atmosphere, dancers coming on at intervals and lots of noise and music. Brazil is one of the favourites and won the game in 2 sets. The second game was women’s Switzerland vs Greece. Lots of vocal support for Greece, the game was won by Switzerland in 2 sets.
Game 3 was men’s USA vs South Africa. Great game, lots of athleticism and powerful spikes. A group of drunken dinosaurs were behind our seat and they were pretty loud. Didn’t matter, the whole stadium was loud. Game 4 was women’s USA vs Australia. It was already 11pm and pretty cold, I’d only brought my running jacket in case it rained and my teeth were chattering. The players also were feeling the cold, instead of the regular skimpy costumes, they were wearing warmer clothing. That was a thrilling match, obviously with the big names of Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor. Both USA teams won in 2 sets too.
The matches were finished at around 11.45pm. Got the bus home, by the time I’d showered it was 1am already. I’m glad I went, it was really interesting and exciting.
It’s Friday 27 July and the London 2012 Opening Ceremony will start in a few hours. The TV is decidedly tuned to BBC1, the Pimm’s is ready and the anticipation is building. Thinking back, I actually was in Singapore that day in July 2005 when the IOC announced that the 2012 Olympics will be held in London. It’s a bit surreal, that I can be here in person during this event. Yes, I complain about the various issues that have cropped up and am annoyed that my day-to-day life will be severely disrupted. But it’s hard not to get super, super excited. It’s such a huge event that the only reasonable thing to do is to get with the program and embrace the spirit. It will be something I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Bring on London 2012. Go Team GB and best of luck to all athletes.
I was thinking about whether to go, and the consensus from several people was to definitely go. It’s day 69 of the olympic torch relay, the last full day before it goes to the olympic park. It started today at Camden, moved east to Haringey, Islington, the City, south towards the south bank, Peckham, Lewisham, round Battersea Park, King’s Road, up towards Shepherd’s Bush, Westfield, Bayswater Road, Oxford Street, Regent’s Street, Downing Street, Buckingham Palace and coming back to Hyde Park. A lot of those spots are so near me that there’s no excuse. Initially the plan was to go to Bayswater and the Hyde Park area, I ended up a bit further west at Holland Park. It was a good decision. The crowds weren’t that thick, there was plenty of shade and this was where the route doubled back.
I stood next to a nice lady who was there with her grandchildren. Her daughter had gotten men’s diving and canoeing, she was very excited. They were running late and the first we saw of the convoy was security and police started to congregate. At the head of the convoy were police motorcycles, followed by some runners and then the sponsor trucks. About 2-3mins later the actual torch convoy came by, police first, then a lone torchbearer surrounded by security, then a bunch of buses and cars following.
They headed towards Westfield, so we had about 45mins to wait till they came back. I walked around the shops and had half a pint of a very sharp and bitter beer. Other people congregated at an ice cream shop and inside Tesco’s.
I found another good, shady spot to wait for the return. The crowds were thin enough that I actually crossed over to the median and had a clear view. The group went by quickly and I, like a few others, ran after it. Each torchbearer ran for 300m, so I was able to catch a couple of changeovers. It was an easy bus trip home too, to catch the rest of the relay on tv. There’s a concert at Hyde Park tonight, but that’t not my cup of tea.
Most of the torchbearers are locals who contributed to the community through charity work, or soldiers, or emergency workers, or brave souls who battled illness or disablity. Some are celebrities or sportspeople. Kate Nesbitt who took the torch to Downing Street was the first woman to be awarded the Military Cross for her work in Afghanistan. I didn’t know who the ones were today, but I thought they were great. The whole event was impressive, moving and I’m so glad I went.
London 2012 kicked off…in Cardiff. Football starts before the opening ceremony, and since the games are played at grounds all over the country, the Millenium Stadium has the honour of hosting the first event. And it’s Team GB vs New Zealand women’s football. I hardly watch football, and I think it’s the first time I sat through an entire women’s game. It was a thrilling game, with many missed chances and lots of pressure. Team GB had the upper hand, and the goal that secured the 1-0 win was brilliant. Hoping this is a sign of more wins and medals for the team. I have nothing planned for the weekend, I’ll be glued to the TV with my cups of tea.
Locog are trying to get us more into the Olympics spirit. Additional Olympics tickets are being released. I guess they are the ones with low takeup or returned for resale, because they are all at the higher price categories. There are even opening and closing ceremony ones, so if I had a spare £1,600 or so I can go to the opening ceremony. Um, no thanks. There’s wrestling, weight-lifting, gymnastics, basketball and volleyball (regular and beach) as well as scads of football tickets. Even the diving final that we are going to, the top price tickets are available.
I could be patriotic and go to women’s football at Wembley to see Team GB play Brazil. Or volleyball at Earl’s Court — both men’s and women’s preliminary round matches involving Team GB are available. How about beach volleyball at Horse Guard’s, there are loads of sessions available. The venues are better for me, no need to trek all the way over to Stratford. Problem is that they are all category A or B tickets, do I want to see women’s football for £45 or beach volleyball for £50?
I think I will try to go watch the marathon though, support Paula and Mara and Claire in the women’s event. I’ll be in Provence for the men’s.
I loosely follow cycling, if I see it on TV I’d watch it a bit. I was very saddened to read about the horrific accident that claimed the life of Belgian rider Wouter Weylandt. I can’t help but cry at watching his teammates and friends lead the peloton in a tribute on the neutralised stage 4 of the race. Each of the 23 teams took turns leading the peloton, and his team Leopard Trek the last 6km to the finish line, together with his best friend Tyler Farrar. Not many videos yet on youtube because of copyright, but this picture tells the story already. To see the sombre faces of the racers, the dignified way they paid tribute to their colleague, and to read that his team Leopard Trek has pulled out of the race. Very very sad.
I had thought about going out to watch the marathon but at the end I didn’t feel like fighting with the crowds. Looking from this video I could have staked a spot along the Embankment and gotten a good view. Ah well. It was a hot day, and the Kenyans dominated. A good day for the sport. Congratulations to David Weir, Mary Keitany, Emmanual Mutai.
Not a surfer at all, but fascinated with watching surfing. This is rather sedate, but still fascinating. A phenomenon called tidal bore in Alaska presents a chance for long 5 mile rides on these big standup boards. Wow.
I wrote vision quest almost 3 years ago, a short story about a blind skiier [warning: fanfic]. At that time I tried looking for examples of how skiier and guide function as a team, and there were only a few articles and videos.
There are more now, just search ‘blind skiing’ on youtube. As the winter paralympics get underway, I just want to express my amazement and awe at the skill and teamwork that goes into a blind skiing team. This is Jessica Gallagher winning Australia’s first ever medal, a bronze, at the winter paralympics.
I was watching the baseball last night, it’s the World Series between the Yankees and the Phillies. First of, competition between teams in the same country does not “world” make, but I give up re: Americans’ lack of awareness of the rest of the world. Anyway, the game was interesting, albeit boring with all the stop-starts (another characteristic of American team sports, think American football. The other insane characteristic is the obsession with numbers and statistics). The Yankees won, which I’m mildly happy about.
The merchandise doesn’t go to waste, people living in poverty receive new, clean clothes, and the clothing makers recoup some of their losses—they get tax credits for the charitable donations. Why don’t the clothes go to needy families in the United States? Overseas donation is part of the agreement between World Vision and the leagues. The farther away the clothing is, the less likely it is to offend a losing player (or heartbroken Buffalo Bills fan).
To be consistent I took the medal tables off local yahoo sites. Yahoo China took forever to load so I took yahoo HK. From top left: US, HK, Japan, UK.
The most widely used classification method is by number of gold medals, which places China absolutely at the top. It’s only the Americans who use total medals. It should be obvious why, and hasn’t gone unnoticed. The Guardian even calls them on it.
Thinking about it, ranking by the number of gold medals isn’t right either cos this belittles the achievements of the silver and bronze medalists. Applying a weighting of gold=3, silver=2 and bronze=1 doesn’t change the top 4.
The next country down apart from US that benefits from counting total regardless of colour of medals is Australia and look how they see themselves:
May be the Canadians have it right. Put the US at the top using total medal count, then add a column to show position. Smart and tactful.
We missed the closing ceremony — it had just begun when the plane landed and I was too intent on unpacking, showering and doing laundry to catch the end.
Although I missed the handball and water-polo, 2 sports I love watching but only get to see every 4 years; and I was on vacation, I thought I did well in terms of catching the important sports. Japanese tv repeated and repeated on their athletes’ wins, and why not? They showed a collage of their medal winners (and those who didn’t win), I couldn’t understand the commentary but I was still moved. It doesn’t matter which country, the joy when an athlete gets a medal has no boundaries.
There’s been so much said about China. The no-expenses-spared extravaganza. The haul of medals. The volunteers. The military precision organisation. The pride.
There is one group I was particularly interested in, the older-than-usual athletes. The New York Times summarised their amazing achievements. Notable:
Constantina Tomescu-Dita, 38, Romania, women’s marathon gold medal
Dara Torres, 41, US, oldest swimming medalist with 3 silvers
Hiroshi Hoketsu, 67, Japan, dressage, the oldest competitor
And so to the final medal count. I must admit the immediate reaction the first time I saw the final table wasn’t at the 51 golds that China won, I’d expected to see them at the top and wasn’t surprised. It was the UK at #4. I mean, wow. Ahead of Germany and Australia? That’s an achievement. I saw a Rebecca Adlington interview video on the Guardian and if she’s a typical Team GB athlete, then the UK must be doing something right.
I don’t want to be harsh but of course it matters whether it’s a gold, silver or bronze. The Americans are deluding themselves by counting the total number of medals rather than what the rest of the world uses, # of gold medals. More analysis next post.
This is funny, though I understand why the it’s upset the kiwis. Australia’s Channel Seven accessorised the All-Blacks doing the traditional haka before a rugby match with handbags. This was to promote the channel’s coverage of the upcoming Tri-Nations Test between the All-Blacks and the Wallabies in Christchurch. It refers to an incident when former captain Tana Umaga broke up a fight by hitting fellow All Black Chris Masoe over the head with a woman’s handbag.
I should be excited. I should be watching, following, reading. But not yet. The football doesn’t interest me yet. I read somewhere that the last time the 666 dates appeared, at 6.6.66, England won the World Cup, so they should win again this time, because it’s 6.6.06. Snerk. Judging from the first game, they need a bigger miracle than coincidental dates. This from the London metroblog.