Five things I’ve already learnt at London 2012
THE HARD WORD | Some of them painful, some joyous and some I’m more than happy to admit. With the first week down of the 2012 Olympics, these are the five things we at The Hard Word have learnt about this year’s Games.
Australian sporting dominance in the pool is over
Australia’s greatest ever Olympian said before the Games that the Australian and USA dominance in the pool was over. Well Ian Thorpe was halfway to be correct. At the time of writing we have 20 medals in total, 10 of those in the pool and sit 24th overall. Only one of those is gold – the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay. Add to that the disappointment of the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay team who were a long way off, Stephanie Rice’s failure to defend either of her titles from Beijing four years ago, and James ‘Missile’ Magnussen’s disappointing return – it’s been one hell of a wake-up call. And we’ve been handed somewhat of a lesson in humility to go with it. Meanwhile China and the USA continue to put acres and acres between them and the rest of the world.
Investment equals gold medals
The Labor Government has long lauded its own investment in sport, including elite sport. It invested $1.2b over four years into sport generally, with $120m of that aimed at high-performance sport. Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates said in preparation for this year’s Games some years ago, that figure was at least $100m short of what is required. As our chef de mission Nick Green went on the predictable warpath declaring our teams target of a top-five finish in both overall medals and gold, fears grew that this startling slicing and dicing of investment into sport would see us lose out in a big, big way to bigger-spending rivals. Host nation Great Britain has taken its spending to unbelievable lengths and produced their ‘biggest and best team ever’, while France, Japan and Germany continue to reap the rewards of generous Government investment. Wait for the major inquiry at the conclusion of these Games.
No-one can doubt Britain’s ability to host major events
The Hard Word has taken part in some major global events hosted in England over the past two years, including the Royal Wedding and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, among others. The Brit’s propensity to, well, stress, makes them the perfect hosts of the world’s biggest sporting event. Their obsession with micromanagement means no stone was left unturned, no detail glossed over. While the press here obviously get swept up in the furore over security, transport and ticketing, London 2012 has to date proved a major success. The attention to planning (frankly much of it by London Mayor Boris Johnson) is second to none. The aim was to make it the ‘friendly games’ of Sydney 2000, but as well as that, these Games could prove just that little bit better.
‘Sir’ Danny Boyle is a genius
Anyone who comes up with films like Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire is already on their way to being cool in this scribes eyes. The critically acclaimed director and producer’s ‘Isles of Wonder’ – the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony – was something else though. Never mind the political jibes, the 55-year-old created something that will live long in the memory of all those who witnessed it. Australians living in the UK will have understood plenty of the ‘in jokes’, and will have appreciated as much as the Brits the self-deprecating nature of the whole thing. Australians, like the Brits, could never be accused of taking ourselves too seriously, and this oozed British culture in spades. It was witty, moving and incredibly charming and this scribe loved every single minute of it.
The Olympics are still one big perv
Much of the focus, well pretty much all of it, has been on the ‘exploitation’ of women’s bodies in the beach volleyball. How dare photographers and broadcasters alike show off what little the women are wearing! Beach volleyball is, like it or not, a sport that is here to stay. Women and men alike love both forms of the game. Beach, bums, and booze is all good in this scribe’s eyes. But there’s also the swimmers and divers, with their chiseled frames, and the track and field athletes with their ripped abdominals and everything else. What fun.
What are a couple of things you have learnt at London 2012? Tell us below: