Wednesday, 1 August 2012

down at that olympics

tired of the sight of rain i decide to take t away down to her mum's for some south of england sun. at least that's the theory. t's mum says it was 32 degrees thursday past. as it turns out we brings the overcastness with us but it's still plenty warm for me.

we settle in for the opening ceremony. after deep ambiguity about the whole affair we were well impressed. i wasn't so happy about the whole nhs medley what with all the horrible cliches about nurses but sticking a bit celebrating the nhs in the opening ceremony given what the tories are about at the moment was a grand thing to see. i was a bit disconcerted by black people playing cricket and having a pastoral time in the fields as opposed to any accurate portrayal of britain's colonial past but the windrush finally appeared and the fact that doreen lawrence was helping carry the flag provided a nice counterbalance.

i'd seen the tiger feet clip prior to the event and it hadn't filled me with promise but in the end i was quite up for the musical section right up to the inclusion of dizzee rascal. plus the section for those absent with emili sande was both poignant and apt. by the end we were all (with me as the token non-londoner) happy with the opening as a representation of london. right, that is, up to the appearance of paul macartney. and off with the tv!

surprise of the night was the thomas heatherwick cauldron in part because of my heatherwick fanboyness but also because we'd been to the heatherwick thing at the v&a in the afternoon. not that surprising stylistically but beautifully executed. everybody we spoke to loved it.

back into town the following day for the men's road cycling. given it was the olympic road race i was surprised at dave brailsford's confidence prior to the race. and from lap 3, for me, the british team were in trouble. you just can't let people of that quality away in the break without either shutting it down or getting your man in there. we stopped briefly at the rapha cafe (stowed to the doors) but decided to get down to the mall just in case. being the olympics there's no public screens unless you pay for them so the assembled crowd were listening in on their phones. and, strangely, to me. i nailed the unlikelihood of a catch as well as the fact there was no way the australians or the germans were going to aid cav to a victory. then disaster as cancellara crashes (esp as far as we could make out he had the whole swiss team there - a lesson for team gb?). and then it was vino. you could almost sense the grimaces of the collected uci types. but, doping or no doping, vino attacks. and a great result for rigoberto uran. cancellara inconsolable at the end. but a great atmosphere and everyone loving it.

sunday we were back out but t's mum's dodgy hip stopped play for her. this time the rain was battering down so we decided to get the coverage back in the rapha cafe which was about a third as full as the previous day. cue a grumpy me re the support for women's cycling and women's sport in general. naturally it was a much better race than the day before with the team gb getting lizzie armitstead into the break and emma pooley taking her turn to control the chasing peloton. in the end there was no way armitstead was going to have more than marianne vos but a great finish (a sound recording of which will follow soon). i was heartened to see that armitstead followed my lead to have a mini-rant about sexism in sport off the back of her result (which the bbc obviously decided to more or less avoid).

more of the same when we got home and caught up with the team gb football. great games and great crowds but the attitudes that have so marked women's football still well in evidence in the arrangement of games and the coverage (this last of course not just restricted to football). and hope powell - black national coach? there's a lesson in there for the men's game!

it wouldn't be the olympics without some sort of controversy and t's mum alerted us to the comments over chinese swimmer ye shiwen. shiwen's just a wee lass and only sixteen so it seems unlikely she's been 'prepared' but such is the level of disillusionment about athletes and doping coupled with a reluctance by certain nations to accept they've been beat by scene else. no surprise then that ruta meilutyte is soon accused of the same. cos they're mad for doping down in that plymouth.

all of this coupled with the stuff about transport, the drip feed about how much this all cost (the taxpayer not the sponsors obviously), the nature of the sponsorship deals, the ugly nationalisms that seep round the edges of the athlets' 'journeys' seeps round the edges of the events.

travelwise the 'chaos' wasn't much worse than it's ever been while we've been in london, in fact in many ways it was better. the empty seat thing, initially blamed on those nasty corporations, now appears to be down to the olympic committees and the media, after which revelation the media fell rather silent. and not a cheep about just how many tickets wills and harry and their hangers-on plus shiny dave must've bought these last few days.

i think in the next few days roman abramovich and the apple boy have got themselves dispensations to park their super yachts (ships to you and i) on the thames so as they don't have to walk to far. you'd think in a city where you can still see the effects of the riots this might at least raise an eyebrow but no, everyone sits and sucks it up. there's even people on the streets telling you what pavement to walk on. this last bugged me the most, not because it affected me but because it might have. maybe it's some sort of 'i can walk where i want scottish thrawn-ness' but i was astonished anyone would put up with that.

all i could think walking about was bread and circuses, bread and circuses.....

all that said tho it was brilliant. london was, as i've always found to to be, at its friendly and open best. they love a flag and the houses were hung with them, faces painted and that oddly english desire to be festooned with union jackery was proper manifest. the town felt truly global, esp after the weekend, and we had to wonder, esp in asia but also france, if there was anyone left back there. the volunteers deserve special mention as they were everywhere, amazingly non-stressed from what we saw and ever helpful. our few days were easily too short and if we'd had our way we wouldn't have come back for the duration.

i put my niggles aside, still those voices as i watch wiggins doing the time trial, look at the size of the crowds on the roadside, listen to the noise. i'll never see that again...


Marion McCready said...

sounds like a fun few days, though I've done my best to barely take notice of the Olympics being there in London must have been quite an experience!

swiss said...

i think it's been a bit of a conflicting experience. the sport has been brilliant, the media less so and the shenanigans behind the scenes makes you wonder just how much exploitation people will take before they say enough!