No surprise, since they’ve added skateboarding and surfing to the medal tables, two sports I thought were pretty much as laid-back and non-competitive as you can get.
There’s a reason why the phrase “chill out, dude” is associated with surfers and I have often noted the faint whiff of weed from enthusiastic skateboarders, a drug which tends not to promote competitive instincts.
The little skateboarders were rather wonderful. Whilst other competitors turn up looking like they’re trying out for The Avengers, all pumped muscle, toned flesh and performance gear, the boarding boys and girls ambled in looking like they’d just fallen off their mum’s couch. One gold medallist was about 12. Next Olympics, it’ll be the 10-metre Toddler Toddle.
I could’ve been a contender in Olympic Horse Punching. I once bopped a stroppy stallion. Well, more of a slap, really. Negev Desert, late 70s. Like the German lady, I faced an intractable beast refusing to go into his stable and so I smacked him on the nose. Bet he never felt a thing, but he did blink in a startled manner then did as he was told. Three days later, I punched a bull.
We’re not Olympic-watchers, but last Friday I came home to find my husband glued to the women’s marathon.
Nothing else on, he said. Oh? said I, humouring him and settling down with my deserved late night gin.
Minutes later, I was hooked, and an expert on women’s marathon running. Paula Radcliffe did a great job on the commentary. It can’t be easy talking about a race that goes on for literally hours and not much happens apart from a bunch of terrifyingly fit women running.
There were times when Paula veered into the territory of those QVC home-shopping saleswomen who can talk about a single diamonique necklace for days. We got info on shoes, background, drinks and probably birth signs.
The Israeli girl suddenly just stopped running. We both squealed. Oh no! She was right up there with the leader pack, what happened? America’s Molly Seidel, who had been lolloping in the lead for much of the race, fell back to third place and we went, aw, hen…
The two Kenyan girls just effortlessly powered on, and we found ourselves actually cheering on Peres Jepchirchir as she pounded over the finishing line, running like a woman demented.
Paula’s voice stuck in my head all the next day. Her and Clare Balding. They were commentating on my housework, particularly in the notoriously tricky 100-metre Stair, Bedrooms and Upstairs Landing Hoovering event.
Clare bemoaned I’d taken the corner into the small bedroom too sharply, and actually clipped the door with the hoover, incurring penalty points. Paula countered by saying I was keeping up a good pace in the main, and my crevice tool technique was excellent, but the judges are usually looking for a touch of artistic flair, and Susan is known more as solidly workman-like with the vacuum.
Clare broke in to say that they had to go to check out the action at the Horse Punching arena, but they’d be back to see how I coped with the Freestyle Extreme Ironing.
Funny, I always think I don’t like the Olympics, but I do miss them when they’re over.