Olympic roundup

I’ve been toying with the idea of writing an Olympic blog post recently, but wasn’t sure where to start. There’s almost too much to say, too much for one post, too much for one person. But the Olympics have saturated daily life for me, and probably the rest of Britain, so it seemed rude not to.

It’s been a very un-British couple of weeks. Far from the status quo of cynicism and misery, we’ve been celebrating. Celebrating! And the exact turning point was the opening ceremony.

Four years ago I was lucky enough to go to Beijing, which was a real milestone in my life. I got the chance to watch a rehearsal of their opening ceremony in the Birds Nest, and watched the real thing with my friends, and seemingly half of Beijing, on a big screen in Beihai park.

It’s fair to say I was slightly apprehensive about the home leg, but I needn’t have worried.

I’m not going to review the opening ceremony, you’ve all seen it, but I am going to reiterate just how good it was.

Team GB had a tentative start, but our nerves were soon put to rest. We’ve been treated to 29 gold, 17 silver, and 19 bronze medals. It became the norm to wake up and think, “What are we going to win today?”

As spectators, we often have our hopes raised and expectations built up, only to be followed by that familiar feeling of disappointment.  It’s a British characteristic to root for the underdog so it’s no surprise that we’re seldom celebrating.

During the build up there was a lot of promise, but a lot of expectation, and for Team GB to surpass that has been a joy to watch. I didn’t know long distance running could be so captivating, and I had no idea the cycling sprint was so bizarre.

I didn’t make it to London, but I did catch some Olympic football closer to home, at the City of Coventry stadium (aka Ricoh Arena). I’m not a football fan, but any excuse for a Mexican wave.

These Japanese fans deserve a special mention. I went as a neutral spectator but they did a good job of turning me, and the rest of the stand into Japan fans!
Olympic Tickets



Netball at London 2012?

I loved PE at school. I loved it despite not actually being very good at it. That was despite the fact lessons were only one hour long, most of which was taken up by complaining girls who had forgotten their kit, were ill (again) or who refused to play without their best friend on their team.

This was the only lesson where mucking about was allowed. You didn’t have to read or write anything, just remember to bring your kit.

Occasionally, you might get to do trampolining, or even better, play tennis with the boys.

I loved PE, except when we had to play netball.

Six hundred thousand of you obviously feel otherwise. That’s how many people have signed up in support of a campaign to get netball into the 2012 Olympics.

Right from scrambling for a bib, the letters of which determined just how bearable the next hour would be, I knew netball was not for me. I could only hope and pray the other girls didn’t get there before me and leave me with “GK” – Goal Keeper, the worst position of the lot.

My dislike of the sport probably wasn’t helped by the fact I could never remember where I was allowed to be.

Even if I managed to steal myself a bib that got me into the goal circle, most of my classmates were taller than me. And, of course, on that day when I was allowed to shoot, the goalkeeper turned out to be tallest girl in the whole school. I couldn’t see the hoop, never mind throw a ball through it.

For those of you who don’t share my pain, this campaign, like so many things, began on Facebook.

Since Team Bath goalkeeper Eboni Beckford-Chambers started a group on the social networking site last year, the campaign has made it into the media spotlight.

Famous faces signed up so far include Dame Kelly Holmes, Bryan Robson and Cherie Blair.

According to the website even Gordon Brown wants netball in the Olympics.

Played by over a million women and girls a week in the UK, there seems to be the demand to see women compete at the highest level.

Backing the bid, Holmes was surprised the sport was not already included in the Olympics:

“Netball is one of the most popular team games for women in the world, and is already a core part of the Commonwealth Games”, she said.

By encouraging women to play sport and giving them role models to aspire to, Holmes suggested including netball “would have a huge impact on women everywhere.”

This, I think, is a bit ambitious. However, any opportunity for women to demonstrate their sporting ability and take a step out of the shadow of men’s sport has got to be a good thing.

So do I support the campaign? Yes. Anything which could get people playing sport has to be applauded.

But, should the campaign succeed, will I be watching? Probably not.