It was in 1964 that I was first glued to the television set watching black and white grainy pictures of swimming, athletics and boxing from the first Olympics held in Tokyo. So when they were again awarded to the same place in 2020, I looked forward to watching so many more sports in glorious colour on my high definition TV.
Then we had the wonderful party pooper called COVID come along which put a damper on the plans for this tremendous four yearly sporting event and almost stopped it being held this year.
Now the games have changed dramatically since my first memories and I’m not really sure if for the better or worse.
The Games as envisaged by the founder of the modern version, Baron Coubertin, was a truly amateur event where the youth of the world could come together and compete in harmony, but there now is a massive change to professional sportsmen and events that were never designed to be part of the Ancient Games such as golf, tennis, baseball and basketball where some of the richest sportsmen in the world are scrabbling around for the prospect of winning a gold medal.
While writing this, we have the Synchronised Swimming event on and I have to wonder how this ever became a sport and then how it became an Olympic event. Eight women splashing around in a swimming pool to loud and noisy music just doesn’t do it for me.
But there are some events that I love to watch and only seem to get general TV airing at the Olympics and one of those is the cycling which we, in Great Britain, seem to be quite good at and winning medals. It is one of our best events normally along with rowing and sailing and, if you notice the similarity, these are all events where you are sitting down, something we Brits seem very good at doing!
The cycling seems to have some really strange events and names. Kirin and Madison are two events that are great to watch but how the competitors know where they are in relation to each other and how they are scoring points mystifies me. But I really enjoy watching them and the commentators are knowledgeable enough to keep you up to date with the event and the tactics.
But watching the sprint events which takes place over four laps of the track is one of the strangest races that you can see. This is a two person event and both racers start alongside each other on the centre of the track at the top of the high banking held by a team member and then when the race “starts” they barely use the pedals and slowly drift down the banking with the rider in front looking over his shoulder in case the person behind actually starts pedalling. They go on like this for about two laps riding around on the nearly flat section of the track at the bottom of the banking and then, all of a sudden, it all explodes. Either the rider in front hits the pedals and tries to catch the second rider cold by getting a huge lead or the second rider goes high on the banking and then swoops down to zoom past his opponent.
The race then becomes a battle of pure speed for two laps after two laps of moving at walking pace as they have an official alongside making sure that, at the very least, they keep up with him (or her). So you have to ask the question, especially if you are not an afficiendo of cycling, why they just don’t race for two and not four laps.
Anyway it all ends tomorrow so the competitors can start preparing for the next Summer Olympics being held in Paris in 2024. I’m hoping that I might be able to get there as I missed out on the London Olympics and see one day of the Cycling or Rowing events and have started saving already in case I get a chance.
I’d love to know how you feel about the Olympics? Is it something you enjoy or do you see it as a total waste of time and effort? Let me know in the comments below.