Confessions of a closet Olympics fan

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iol spt july27 Olympic light display

REUTERS

London's Olympic Stadium where the opening ceremony kickstarted the 2012 Games with an eccentric and exuberant celebration of British history, art and culture.

Durban - Okay, I have a confession to make. I have been watching the Olympics on TV. And it’s not just a case of catching the highlights either, it’s become a bit of a ritual every evening and my social life, however unenviable, has suffered as a result.

I know last week I swore I would be making a concerted effort to avoid channels 204 to 207, on DStv but somehow that pledge went to pieces after watching the opening ceremony.

And what a glorious spectacle Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle gave the world. The only way it could have been any more perfect was if Boyle had let Francis Begbie make a guest appearance. And even that wouldn’t have surprised us in the least, especially after seeing the queen make a spectacular entrance with 007 James Bond.

And then the Games began. I think I’ve enjoyed watching the Olympics for the spectacle and the event’s little peculiarities more than the actual sporting side of it. I mean, I don’t care too much for the little technicalities like who was four-fifths of a second faster. Commentators ramble on about that k** like we actually care. C’mon, just tell me who won so I can make some decent conversation with my colleagues in the morning. Nevertheless, among the little peculiarities I’ve noticed is that the Olympics is the only time one ever gets to see tall Chinese guys. I’m not assuming that all Chinese people are short, I’m just saying that when one actually comes across a tall one it’s quite noticeable and this happens only once every four years.

Where are all the regular tall Chinese, you know, the non-Olympians? Are they housed in a special experimental lab in Outer Mongolia and unleashed for special occasions? I’m just thinking aloud.

Another peculiar thing about the Olympics is the fact that it’s the only time we miss the Soviet Union.

Back in the day when America and “Russia” would have epic battles at the top of the medals table, the Olympics were a lot easier to understand. Forget what they say about the Games being a unifier and all that jazz. To the casual spectator it was a case of good versus bad, you picked a side and you knew which athlete you would be supporting in each event.

These days we have a whole bunch of obscure little nations created from the old empire with confusing names and quite frankly, its hard tell the “-stans” from each other. The worst part is you can’t make stereotypical remarks any more because they aren’t “Russian” any more. In one event I witnessed representation from Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. The only “-stan” that was missing was Kharwastan.

I wish these little nations would stop being so stuck-up and band together for the sake of non-confusion at the Olympics. They don’t have to call themselves the Soviet Union, they could refers themselves as “Friends of Russia” or something similarly cute.

The most exciting part of the Games for me so far has been the dismal failures of Australia. Yes, if there is one part of me that is undeniably South African it’s the part of me that rejoices at the misfortune of those arrogant buggers from Down Under.

I think while watching the swimming I’ve found myself rooting more for Australian flops than for South African success and each time it seems my prayers have been answered. I think the most annoying thing about Australia is that they are just so bloody good at everything. Forget sport where they’ve dominated various disciplines for long periods of time, they’re also fantastically good at other things like pop music.

They’ve given the world AC/DC, INXS and Kylie Minogue. Okay, maybe they shouldn’t boast about the last one, but still, what have we produced? Heinz Winckler and the Parlotones. Barf!

The weird thing is that those annoying Aussie swimming commentators have completely brushed over the failures of their beloved prison colony nation and have thrown their weight behind America. I was particularly peeved when Chad le Clos’s epic victory was played down by the morons behind the microphones who kept on singing Phelps’s praises even though it was clearly Le Clos’s moments. Yes, sure, Phelps is probably the greatest Olympian ever, but Chad kicked his butt. How about some credit where it’s due.

Let’s just hope our medal tally continues to grow. I am cautious to get too excited about the golds we have in our bag and assume we’re going to come home with a bunch more. On the other hand, hopefully our successes in the pool will inspire the rest of the athletes in Team SA to rise to the occasion while participating in the world’s greatest sporting event. - Sunday Tribune

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