Posted by: crustynomad | August 10, 2008

Olympics – day 1

2008 Olympics logo

2008 Olympics logo

Well, the greatest show on Earth is under way and I’ve missed the best bit apparently. I’m told that the opening ceremony was ‘awesome’ but I wouldn’t know as I was at work designing a company newsletter.

In the evening I saw a few highlights on the BBC hosted by Gabby Logan with Sharron Davies and Colin Jackson. This showed some questionable team uniforms during the parade including American 100m world record holder and wonderfully named, Tyson Gay, with a big white flat cap sat on his head at a jaunty angle. One of the commentators described him as doing his Frank Spencer impersonation. Unfortunately I missed the Estonian team go through as they braved the not inconsiderable humidity by wearing shell suits.

I was rather taken by the actual lighting of the Olympic flame by some unnamed fellow being strung up on a wire and then hovering near a long pipe. Eventually he waved his torch nearby and the touchpaper slow-burned before rapidly encircling the huge flame ‘holder’ to send an inferno into space. It was quite something and shows that size does matter. As someone who actually witnessed the non-event of the opening ceremony of EURO96, London 2012 has a lot to live up to.

I never intended to watch any of the day one events but as I fell asleep in front of the box and awaking at 2:39am I decided to take in what was on at the time.

First up was the Dressage – in Hong Kong of all places. My God, is this really a sport? I know it’s part of the three day event but to see a load of inappropriately dressed folk in Victorian costumes in half empty stadiums didn’t make for much of a spectacle. The horses looked immaculate but there’s something very unnatural about the whole Dressage concept – horses aren’t supposed to walk like that!

I perked up when a Brit showed up and William Fox-Pitt set off like a Glaswegian drunk being completely unable to walk in a straight line. Even I knew that was going to score poorly. Overall the team were lucky to finish the day in fifth.

The men’s cycling road race which started around the city before disappearing up into the mountains was interesting from a tourists point of view. Tiananman Square and the Great Wall were both on the route but on a journey 245km I’m sure they won’t first thoughts in competitor’s minds.

I also watched some of the women’s beach volleyball which encouraged me to stay awake a while longer. The camera angles and the superslomo verged on the pornographic. I bet the cameramen were queuing up for this gig.

I finally sloped off to bed at around 4:00am but was woken by my children sitting on me at 8:30am. I managed to get another hour in bed in which I followed the best British hope for a medal on the opening day, Craig Fallon, in the 60kg judo.

Throughout the morning I heard how he’d missed the chance of Gold or Silver but was well on course for a Bronze. I dunno but I always felt the confidence was unfounded and he lost in his third repacharge match before finally finishing in 7th.

I must admit I don’t know exactly what a repacharge is or why it’s needed but it’s obviously for losers as it tends to decide who comes in thirteen and fourteenth. It doesn’t seem vital to me and I’d imagine that once you’ve missed out on a medal the motivation drops off a bit.

Other notable British performances were Coxless Fours in the Rowing winning their heat – these are the guys who previously housed Sirs Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent on their search for multi-Goldum and Ben Ainslie finishing in third on the first day of his sailing program.

One thing that annoyed me about the swimming was how delighted people were at qualifying for a final – it was almost as if they knew they were going to fail to win a medal. At least talk a good game rather than just be happy to be there. It’s just another example why British success seems so hard to come by.

Tomorrow the Australian swimmer Michael Phelps is going for his first of seven Golds. He got more Golds in Athens than Britain usually get as a team!

Anyway, here is the day one medal table:

Rank Country Gold Silver Bronze TOTAL
1 China 2 0 0 2
2 USA 1 1 1 3
3 South Korea 1 1 0 2
4 Czech Republic 1 0 0 1
5 Romania 1 0 0 1
6 Spain 1 0 0 1
7 Austria 0 1 0 1
8 Cuba 0 1 0 1
9 Italy 0 1 0 1

To read my other daily reports. please go to my Olympic index page.

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