Tuesday 19 August 2008

happy and glorious....

I won't bore you with the true depths of my Olympic obsession*, but I just wanted to share two of the things that have really tickled me so far:

1) Great Britain is having the most incredibly successful games, with a veritable golden shower [ahem] of medals that are really setting the bar high for London 2012. You would probably think that all of those medals are a cause for celebration, but we Brits are unaccustomed to this kind of thing, and I was delighted to see that we were quick to revert to type: the British team have now won 7 gold medals in the velodrome from a possible 10 in track cycling. Amazing. Or is it simply the trigger for a debate about how this level of British success is bad for the sport? Being good is bad and Team GB are the Chelsea of world cycling, apparently....

which brings me to.....

2) The philological debate that has been triggered by the Olympics. People seem to be getting very upset that the British team is being called "Team GB" and many are also rather hot under the collar that the word "medal" is being used as a verb. To medal. Our athletes are medalling in many events. Now, I'm a stickler for accuracy myself, but I really do struggle to see this as something to get especially irritated by. Can't we just be happy to have the winningest team we've had at an Olympic Games for 100 years?

People can be such nuggets, can't they?


* Want an insight into my world at the moment? Ok. Well, there's a lot of talk that Usain Bolt is in with a real shout at Michael Johnson's incredible 200m World Record at the moment... but I was interested to see that Johnson ran 19.32s in 1996 and Bolt's best time over the distance is 19.67. That's one of the most amazing records. When Johnson set that time in the Atlanta Olympic games, he broke his own mark of 19.66s. To take more than 3/10 of a second off in a sprint event was nothing short of phenomenal, and the next quickest time that anyone has ever run is Tyson Gay's 19.62 last year. If Bolt beats that World Record tomorrow, then that's a race I want to see. All the stats you will ever need on this are to be found here. I've been spending a lot of time there.... See what I mean? And don't get me started on whether Michael Phelps is the greatest Olympian that ever lived, or if he's simply the one with the most medals... by my books, you could have competed in a single event in a single Games and failed to win a medal and still be the greatest Olympian, because it's not simply about winning, is it? What's so hard to understand about that? What was it that de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympics said? "L'important n'est pas de gagner, mais de participer..." [with apologies to the Ultimate Olympian, who I stole that line from. He also came up with this as evidence that you don't have to win to be the greatest Olympian.....case closed, I should say]

Actually, double gold medal winning swimmer, Rebecca Adlington is from Mansfield and trains at the Nottingham University pool. One of my colleagues, who swims there before work, was telling me how he recognised her on the telly as he sees her down there quite a lot. About four times a length, I should think.....

That's more than enough of me not boring you about the Olympics, eh?

Before I go though, I have a question for you....... Why do men run the hurdles over 110m, but it's only 100m for women?? Answers in the comments box below, and no prizes whatsoever for the winner, except the certain knowledge that you are probably as much of a nerd as me.


  1. Er, a possible answer is because it's a women's race - old-fashioned ideas in those days).

  2. of course it's all about winning. That's why they give the medals only to the people that do the best.

  3. I'm not saying that winning isn't important (ask Kath Grainger and her crew), I'm simply saying that here more than anywhere else, it's not *just* about the winning. I think De Coubertin should be our guide here, as the whole bloody thing was his idea in its current form. Taking part is sometimes just as much. The guy that comes last has probably made as many sacrifices as the guy who wins to get there. Think of Derek Redmond being helped across the line by his father in Barcelona. That for me is what the Olympics is all about. I also enjoyed the sheer delight of the Canadian guy who came dead last in the Triathlon yesterday too.
    Whatever. It's brilliant.

  4. he just ran 19.31 into a headwind!

    what an amazing run.

  5. I do know that the proper usage of language is important to many people, but considering the wonderful and varied history of the English language, one would think that an evolving language would be something of a joy to witness.

  6. Is the difference in hurdle lengths due to a difference in leg lengths, hence a difference in stride length, leading to a need for a shorter distance between hurdles?

    You forget Bolt broke the 100m record without really trying.

  7. Ian - yes, but Johnson's record was *is* a phenomenal time. It was a landmark jump forward. And Bolt just broke it running into a headwind. Amazing.

    Wrong on the hurdles. Does anyone care enough to want to hear the answer?

  8. Is it because women are generally feebler and can't run the full distance? :)