Saturday, 9 August 2008

It's The Olympics. Hooray.

I see that The Junior Doctor is a fan of the Olympics. So am I. I have to be honest and say that I do not watch very much sport on television, but if there is a major games on I start to get glued to the box.

The last Olympics were not too much of a problem because Greece is only a couple of hours ahead of us, so I could rearrange my working hours a little if there was something that I particularly wanted to watch, although most of the best stuff was during the hours that I was at home anyway (or at the weekends). But with the time difference between here and Beijing being much greater it means that things are happening when I should be asleep, or when I should be getting up and doing whatever it is that I need to do during the day. It looks as though my sleeping pattern may be seriously disturbed for the next couple of weeks.

Cycling has never been a sport which attracted me in any way, after all a bicycle is just an object that gets you from Point A to Point B quicker than if you had to walk. However, when the Cycling World Championships were held in Manchester earlier this year, I was going through a bad period for sleep and consequently I became hooked on the late night programmes covering the event. As it happened, Team GB were absolute stars and wiped the floor with the other nations, winning almost every gold medal that they could. This meant that the cyclists from Great Britain were going to be a force to be reckoned with when it became time for the Olympics. Although some of the events in which we won medals in Manchester are not going to be be included in Beijing, our boys and girls are still favourites for most events. So I would like to wish then good luck and tell them that I will be shouting for them. Only please don't always leave it to the last possible second to take the lead because my poor old nerves can't stand it.

I have only once tried my hand at sailing, I was about 16 at the time, and I found it a very confusing thing to do. I think that this was partly due to the fact that I have enough problems being able to work out my right from my left, so when things suddenly became port and starboard, it was too much for me to cope with. I'm not counting my day spent cruising around Corfu in a yacht as part of my sailing adventures; I was very much a passenger on that occasion and spent much of my time indulging in beverages from the large supply in the cool boxes on board. Sailing must be difficult when it is very windy, but the almost calm conditions that faced our sailors this morning must make sailing almost impossible. How on earth do you get a boat to move when there doesn't even seem to be enough wind to mess up your hair?

Our rowers have also started their battle to win as many medals as possible. Team GB has had a good record in the rowing for a number of years and it seems that this year we may even have a stronger team than ever before. I expect that many of us rowing as a somewhat elitist sport, although it gained more support and probably more fans as a result of the exploits of Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent. They have nine Olympic gold medals between them and that is more than we sometimes manage to get in a particular games. Food for thought, indeed.

Gymnastics and Judo have also started, although our fortunes have been somewhat mixed so far. But for me the games will be really underway, when first the swimming, and then the athletics, begin. But, one thing that has saddened me a little is that a nation, other than the host, can dictate when events will be held. I am sure that the television rights for the USA will bring in a great deal of money, but is it right that the way in which the swimming events have been timetabled should rely on when it is convenient for the Americans to watch. Instead of having the heats in the morning and finals in the evening (Beijing time) as would be the norm at major swimming events around the world, in order to fit in with American TV schedules the heats will be held in the evening and the finals in the morning Beijing time.

I sincerely hope that when the Olympic Games are held in London in four years time, which I hope I am able to enjoy, that we don't change the timings of things to suit another nation other than ourselves. Many of the sports that form part of the Olympic Games will not be shown in the US, they are really only interested in a few, so it is wrong that they should be able to affect the way in which things are timetabled, just because they are a large, rich nation. Why can't they get up in the early hours, or have a very late night, like the rest of us mortals? Just because they are the USA, and will probably win more medals than any other country (although China will be making a determined effort to see that this doesn't happen) doesn't mean that they have the right to dictate how things are run.

Ranting over; it's time to get a nap so that I can be fresh for when things get going again in the early hours of the morning! Oh, and lots of luck and best wishes to all our athletes, whatever their sport. If you just do your best, we will be proud of you all.

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