Friday, 15 August 2008

Day 7.2: Shut up Sue

The athletics is viewed by many, in the words of my brother this week, as "the proper Olympics". It's what features on all the Olympic computer games, for one thing, as well as providing the most high-profile action. It also provides the most hardcore editorialising on the part of the BBC. I am much more willing to forgive them this in the Velodrome, where activities also commenced today, because British competitors there are actually, well, good.

I call this obsessive, unrealistic, televised pursuit of mediocre athletes the Colin Montgomerie effect. Those not in the know, or frighteningly, too young to recall, in the late 1990s the BBC would routinely ask - and, indeed make documentaries about - why Colin Montgomerie had never won a Major golf championship. They never stopped to think it might be because he lacked sufficient ability. Who needs ability when you're British, after all?

In the Women's SIX MILLION MILE steeplechase semi-finals, British athlete Helen Clitheroe set a personal best, in so doing beating the British record by a collosal 9 seconds. Sadly for her, she finished outside the top 4 in her heat, and, in an event which only had spots open for the three fastest non-top 4 finishers, her time was the 4th fastest. She was out. Not before, mind you, Brendan Foster had incurred several IRE PENALTIES. He started with the utterance, "people will forgive us for being a bit partisan", which you just know is going to precede some ludicrous, Kedgeree-and-Racism, Jolly-Good-Show, Take-Me-Back-To-Dear-Old-Blighty sentiment. "If there's any justice in the world, a woman who takes 9 seconds off the British national record would qualify for the Olympic final".

Bollocks.

If there's any justice, the person whose time isn't quick enough to qualify won't. She didn't, so justice be done. If she has a problem with this, run faster. If you can't run faster, then that's just the way it is. This whole "British Records Must Be Fast" mentality has irked me beyond belief. Britain is a small country, mostly taken up with its dense (in most meanings of the word) population. The bits not filled with dwellings are full of sheep. It's capacity for producing bullshit, however, is unsurpassed.

Just shut up and show me the sport. I'll judge whether it's good or not, it's fair or not, or if I care or not.

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