Sunday 29 July 2012

Dotlympics 2012 - Day 1

To celebrate the first day of the 30th Olympiad, I hardly watched any Olympics. It was a bold strategy but one that paid off as British athletes shamefully declined to win any gold medals. I know. What's all that about then?

Actually, I'm going to try and sidestep that editorial line - which is already well-covered by the BBC and every single other British news agency. I've come to the potentially risky conclusion that, in every field where there is a British athlete nailed on for gold, all the other competitors from all the other countries are probably going to be trying to win the Olympic gold medal as well. It's a disgrace, really. Why don't they wait for the Olympic Games hosted by their own country?

Anyway, Mark Cavendish didn't win the cycling road race. He was beaten out of the medal spots by some cunning tactical plans executed by the teams of other countries who were underhandedly trying to win themselves. The Kazakh cyclist Alexandre Vinokourov, who had the brass neck to look pleased with himself, won the race and the gold medal. But the road race was notable, at least, for being the first live sport  of London 2012™ that I watched.

It was a timely reminder of the key reason I love the Olympic Games. The allure of all sports. The way a sport you never watch, or watch perhaps once every four years, pulls you in to create a 17-day addict. I'm already jonesing for some swimming and I can't even swim.

My favourite aspect of the cycling road race event is the teamwork. Specifically, I like the way they have teams of four. There are, of course, only three medals. Quite how the brutally dominant Team GB had decided to divvy these up, I am not quite sure. Perhaps they took the democratic decision to not win any at all, which was jolly upstanding of them. Of course, it may be decided by who is being each team's little donkey. Every team has its star sprinter - in Team GB's case this was Cavendish of course - and this leaves the other three as a support and back-up crew. One of them always seems to be a literal water carrier, though. At one point I'm pretty sure Bradley Wiggins had four water bottles down the back of his shirt, plus a ham sandwich in his shorts and a six-pack of sausage rolls where the sun don't shine. On his back: a barrel of ginger beer. Fun-size Milky Ways were strapped up his legs with gaffer tape.

A fully-laden moving refreshment station, it's hard to see how Wiggins could have gotten a medal even if he'd wanted one. The unedifying sight of the winner of the Tour de France being passed for third on The Mall by a tressle table covered in pork pies could have been too much for the expectant populace of Britain, still overstimulated by the sight of Kenneth Brannagh in a stovepipe hat, to bear.

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