The 2012 Olympics - A fabulous sporting overload

Published July 26, 2012

There’s just a day or so left before the 2012 Olympics gets underway (or if you’re a football fan, they already have!) and I’m excited! I’ve only really got into the Olympics over the last couple of games, I paid more attention at Beijing than I have before, and I’m really looking forward to watching as much as possible this year.

It helps that we’ll have day by day threads on Sidepodcast, so there will always be a place to chatter about what is happening, and it also helps that the BBC’s overload of coverage means you’re unlikely to be able to miss anything. The games being held in this country is a bit tricky, because plenty of people are quite down about the situation (understandably so, traffic, politics, it can all be a nightmare). But I’m excited about the games for what they are - athletes who train religiously for four years from all across the globe coming together to put on a great show. And trying to win a medal or two.

With my growing interest in different sports, plus all my knowledge from the book I just read, I thought I’d note down how I feel about the different events before the games happen. Perhaps at the end, I’ll come back and see how my feelings have changed.

  • Aquatics - Looking forward to the diving and the swimming, the latter being one of my favourite events. I love to swim, although still haven’t been brave enough or found the right pool timetable to give it another go myself. Synchronised swimming isn’t really something of interest to me, and water polo sounded totally brutal in the book, so probably best to be avoided.
  • Archery - I like the concept of archery, but somehow all the high-tech gadgetry they have these days makes it look less like the Robin Hood tournament I have in my head. Having said that, it’s supposed to create some high tension competition, so it could be worth a look.
  • Athletics - It’s a must for me. The more I run, the more I am aghast at what the runners can do. I’m less bothered about the jumping skills, and would pass on the throwing, but they are usually interspersed with the track events so it comes as a whole package.
  • Badminton - This is one of the sports I could potentially have been good at when I was at school, but (think I’ve mentioned this before) it was either badminton club or chess club and I went for the latter because the teacher was nicer. I vaguely remember watching some badminton when it was Gail Emmins and somebody Robertson, but I think she retired. It’s a bit fast for my watching eyes, but if it’s on, I’ll be tuned in.
  • Basketball - Since I read the book and learnt about the rules and scoring, basketball has suddenly opened up to me. Instead of a bunch of freakishly tall people twisting this way and that incomprehensively, it makes a lot more sense. I’m not sure my interest can be sustained over a full match, with all the time outs and delays, but if I get behind a team, that might be better.
  • Boxing - No, no. Move along.
  • Canoeing - For whatever reason, I wasn’t really aware that canoeing was both slalom (the scary water rapids kind) and sprint (just regular racing). I’m intrigued by the idea of racing, presumably it’s just like rowing but different. The slalom is always worth a watch, if only because it looks so flippin’ difficult to go back through the uphill gates.
  • Cycling - There are lots of different velodrome events, and I can only say for sure that I don’t like the sprint (where there’s two cyclists and they grind to a halt in a bid to outfox each other) but I do like the pursuit (where they start on opposite sides of the track and chase each other down). I also think those two names should be switched, but what do I know. I caught a glimpse of BMXing last time out, just enough to see our British hopeful Shanaze Reade falling down. It looked great though, so I want to see more of this. The road and mountain biking stuff I can take or leave.
  • Equestrian - I’m really not interested in the horsey type things, except perhaps the occasional bit of jumping.
  • Fencing - Can’t get into this at all, and it’d just make me think of Madonna anyway.
  • Field hockey - See, hockey is not so much a good memory from school, so I tend to ignore it. But perhaps I can try and be more open.
  • Football - I would probably be more interested in the football if we hadn’t just invested a significant amount of time in the Euros. I only have so much football love to give of a year, and it may all be spent.
  • Gymnastics - The artistic gymnastics (beam, bars, etc) is one of my favourite events. I remember watching lots of it from Beijing, and getting really invested in the events. I like all the women’s events, and just a couple of the men’s, but would watch it all. Rhythmic gymnastics is not so interesting to me - I get that handling the clubs and ribbons is a real skill, and they seem crazy bendy, but it’s bordering slightly on dance, and I’m not sure where that fits at the Olympics? Also, I’ve been severely disappointed by any trampolining I’ve seen because everyone loves going on a trampoline, but it turns out it’s not so much fun to watch.
  • Handball - This one is a mystery to me, even after reading the book. If I catch it on, I’ll perhaps give it a go, but I’m not sure how much I’ll understand.
  • Judo - Not really my thing.
  • Modern pentathlon - I love the concept behind this (according to the book) about someone escaping from a prison, fighting their way out, swimming across a lake, jumping on a random horse, etc, etc. When it has a story behind it, it’s much easier to take in. In reality, the competition becomes far more sanitised, and with spread out events, I’m likely to lose track. Be interesting if I can keep on top of it though. I do like it when there are all-around style competitions (same as in gymnastics and athletics).
  • Rowing - Definitely interested in this, I do so like the boat race, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to differentiate the many classes. I know it’s how many people are in the boat, so I should be able to count, but I am easily confused.
  • Sailing - I’m not interested in sailing much, which is lucky because I didn’t really understand a word the book said about it, and there appear to be so many different types and events that it must be hard to keep up!
  • Shooting - I don’t know how I feel about shooting, I’m erring on the side of not interested.
  • Table tennis - This really is too fast for me to watch, and Forrest Gump will always be the hero in my eyes anyway.
  • Taekwondo - Like the other fighting and wrestling, just not my thing.
  • Tennis - I’m keen to see the tennis at Wimbledon again, particularly the novelty of it not being all-white. It’s also intriguing that Nadal is not coming back to defend his medal, so it could be an open field again.
  • Triathlon - Definitely interested in this one, it’s just an extension of the running (like), swimming (like), cycling (tolerate) - so it’s double the goodness!
  • Volleyball - Apparently there are two types of volleyball - who knew? This sport gets attention for all the wrong reasons. I don’t mind watching it but I can’t say I’ve ever got particularly excited about it.
  • Weightlifting - I do like the weightlifting, but I can never really work out why. I like World’s Strongest Man too, so there must be something there. Also the highlight of the last Olympics was that poor weightlifter walking into the wall.
  • Wrestling - Good lord, no.

There’s such a lot to get through, and although I have the best of intentions I know I’m going to miss a lot. If Wimbledon is anything to go by I will have less time than I imagine I do and there will be more I want to see than I expected, and I will fail to consume it all. The priorities though, for me, are gymnastics, swimming and athletics. Any more than that will be a total bonus. What are you interested in watching over the next couple of weeks?

← Previous Terrific tea tasting - Twinings Nettle & Sweet Fennel
Next → Trailer Tuesday - Where have you been?