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LONDON: At the Olympics it is not unusual to hear another man say, after looking at another man in a paper-thin lycra outfit that covers him from neck to thigh, “These okes have nice bodies.”
It was at the triathlon yesterday that I heard these words from a man who shall remain anonymous lest he think that the creaking noise in his head is the sound of a closet door swinging uncertainly and not his dodgy knees.
It is okay to look at Olympians bodies. It’s what they are there for. They’ve worked hard at getting themselves into shape for the greatest event of their lives.
“Nice legs.” “You’re looking good.” “Have you lost weight?”
Sometimes it is not just how you do it, but it is the thighs that matters. Cyclists have long looked at each other’s backsides in early season to gauge just what sort of form the others are in. A little more padding than normal suggests someone has done a Jan Ullrich. If you can bounce a coin off the bum being viewed then you know your’re in for a hard day on the bike.
Jessica Ennis won gold for Britain in the heptathlon, which wasn’t bad for a fat bird. A senior UK Athletics official apparently said a few months ago that Ennis was carrying “too much weight”.
She hit back at the official, saying she was “pretty body confident” and told women to love their bodies for what they were.
“Everyone has their hang-ups, but I see my body as a training tool and I feel good about it. I’m comfortable being naked.”
Gosh. Well, there’s a thought to take to bed tonight.
In yesterday’s Guardian, Zoe Williams says that it is fine to ogle Olympians. It should be mandatory.
“For these weeks only, watching these near-deities for whom every muscle has a purpose and every tweak of a body hair is a bid for greatness, we are allowed to make remarks we would never normally make.
“We’re allowed to gawp at perfection, marvel at beauty, openly wish we could prod chests and have a go on triceps – it’s the Olympic Gaze, an objectification amnesty. You want to compare the swimming to a gay porn film? Be our guest.
“You want to rank the athletes in order of do-ability? You are welcome (the author of the Hotlympics Hunks of London site captions frankly: ‘Vavrinec Hradilek, Canoe Slalom, Czech Republic, 25. Until today I didn’t even know canoeist was a word’).
“There’s been a massive sense-of-humour boost and even feminists such as myself will not complain when you say Lizzie Armitstead looks like an incredibly strong flower fairy in a helmet. So long as it’s not only the beach volleyball players – if we’re going to stare at everyone as if they’ve just dropped down from heaven, then who can complain?”
No one. So look away. Take out your scorebooks, measure them up against each other and linger a little longer on your favourites.
Higher, faster, hotter.