If you’ve been following my updates on Twitter or Facebook, you will know that I’ve become just a wee bit obsessed with the Olympics. On Friday, I actually spent the entire day, from morning until gone midnight, watching various sports. Ok, I was blogging and doing other work at the same time, but still!
I haven’t been this captivated by a Games since 1980 when I was gripped by the rivalry between Sebastian Coe and Steve Ovett. As a 12 year old, I had an immense crush on Coe, which I came to bitterly regret when I discovered he was a Tory! I was devastated when he missed out on 800m gold and remember thinking his Dad had been really hard on him.
Then, of course, Scot Allan Wells won the 100 metres by the tiniest of margins and a nation’s eardrums collectively shattered when the screams of his wife and coach Margo as he was running were played back.
I have to say, I was a bit bemused by all the build up to 100 metres last night. Boys running fast for a few seconds doesn’t really do it for me. It just can’t compare to a tennis match or a triathlon.
I thought I’d share with you my top ten highlights of the Games so far. I have to say that narrowing it down to ten has been incredibly hard as there are so many moments I know I’ll remember forever.
1. The Queen
Available all over You Tube, that scene at Buckingham Palace when she turns to Daniel Craig with an amused smile and says “Good evening, Mr Bond”, walks with him to the helicopter and then is portrayed as having parachuted in to Olympic Stadium is pure bloody genius. The woman who has never given an interview and has been a monarch who has stuck by the rules for 60 years suddenly is spoofing herself. Utterly brilliant, never to be repeated and glad she let us see that side of herself. The rest of the Opening Ceremony was amazing and you can read my review of it here.
2. The excellence of women athletes
From Lizzie Armitstead’s silver in the cycling road race to Victoria Pendleton in the velodrome, Becky Adlington in the pool, Beth Tweddle in the gymnasium, our 80% female equestrian team getting silver, Jessica Ennis in the Stadium, our Team GB women have done so well. The BBC should have no problem finding some to put on their Sports Personality of the Year list.
3. Katherine Grainger’s gold medal
Yes, I know we won a whole stack of medals at rowing, but Katherine Grainger’s was particularly satisfying because it’s been such a long time coming. I was a wee bit sad that, down to the scheduling, it wasn’t the first British female gold at rowing, but it was great to see her so happy to have finally achieved her dream. The lessons that gives of the “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” variety are clear. If you really want to do something, realise it’s going t o be hard, it may take a long time, but stick with it.
4. Zara Phillips cross country round
One of the most exciting moments for me so far was Zara Phillips’ cross country ride on her horse High Kingdom. She was devastated the next day to have a fence down in the show jumping, but her cross country ride was skilful, gutsy and risk taking. The course in Greenwich Park was suitably difficult, hilly, muddy, with challenging fences. She rode it so well and came in within the time to give Team GB a much needed clear round. I loved it. I just wish we could see the whole thing. Because the rounds are 10 minutes’ long they don’t just follow one rider all the way around.
5. The BBC coverage
The BBC coverage has been almost faultless. Comprehensive, informative and emotional, there’s not much more we could have asked for. The only thing I would say is that I’m a bit fed up of Gary Lineker. He’s so bland and his questions so inane. He really lets the side down. Clare Balding has played a blinder keeping Mark Foster and Ian Thorpe in line in the pool. She also had the good grace to genuinely apologise when some people interpreted her comments about being disappointed at Becky Adlington’s result as criticism. I’m glad the rest of the world is getting to see more of Jake Humphrey. F1 fans already adore him and I’m so glad he didn’t go to Sky.
Ian Thorpe, by the way, should be kept here and turned into an all round presenter, in between competing on Strictly Come Dancing. His honest and witty analysis of events in the pool has been fantastic. I’m also thrilled to see good use being made of John McEnroe, particularly on Gabby Logan’s late night Olympic Report.
In terms of comprehensive coverage, the fact that you can get any sport you like on the red button is brilliant and the digital content is also superb.
6. The climax of the triathlon
A 2000 m swim in the Serpentine, a 50 k cycle lapping round Hyde Park and Buckingham Palace, a 10 k run on top of it. That’s what I call hard work. And, after two hours’ grinding effort, the medals were decided by a dramatic sprint finish between Nicola Spirig of Switzerland and Swede Lisa Norden. We should have more of this stuff on tv, not just more boring football.