London 2012 9 Aug 2012
London has staged a pretty amazing games; it would be very hard to argue with that bold statement as the 2012 Olympics draw to a close. It has all gone past in a flash. It has been a pleasure to be here during the event, tinged with a little sadness at having only arrived in the City in late May; obtaining any tickets has been next to impossible. I did watch the Men’s Cycling Road race flash by in Richmond Park (I have a photo of Cadel Evans to prove it) but I am not sure that counts.
The lead up to the event was characterized by an awful lot of moaning and groaning and no little cynicism. Gladly that has all evaporated as the country, and obviously London, have embraced the event with epic enthusiasm. The crowds have been huge, evidenced at the events where you could simply line the streets and watch the athletes in action, and unstinting in their joyful support. This has undoubtedly been helped by the fact that Team GB is having the best games since 1908. It is very hard not to become a fair weather fan of a British sports team. They have done particularly well.
New Zealand’s fortunes have been a bit mixed, particularly if you take the rowing squad out of the equation. The sailors and black sticks are promising to provide us with a bit of glory at the finish, fingers crossed. The success of the Brits is no accident; they realized several years ago that if they were going to bridge the gap with countries like Australia (the deadly enemy) serious investment was required. This was forthcoming via the National Lottery and now they are reaping the benefits. The programmes in place and the talent coming through augers well for several years to come.
We still perform at a level that belies our population base and resources but funding will always be a core issue and at the moment, there are many other more pressing priorities. We are currently blessed with a talented bunch of rowers and the sport is rewarded with a decent chunk of funding. Other sports, as they slip down their various pecking orders, struggle with diminishing resources and face an uphill battle to restore pride, unless an exceptional athlete turns up. Swimming is a good example of this; it is now 16 years since an Olympic medal was won, Danyon Loader is now 37!
The Olympics loom large in the Kiwi sporting psyche and always will do. We relish our champions and proudly sit on the cusp of our 100th medal, quite an achievement for a small country, people wise, in the far reaches of the south pacific, a 3 hour flight from anywhere. But achievement at this level gets harder and harder. Somehow we must find the ability to support these athletes and maintain such a proud tradition. The famous black vest (kit) gets more than a passing mention in the UK media; we are known and well regarded.
So, with a few days to run, let us hope that New Zealand’s race is not run and we can snatch a couple more moments of glory.
Just a word on the BBC, probably the best known broadcaster on the planet. I am a fan, I always have been. The service provided across radio, television, internet and their written work is second to none. Their coverage of the games has been exceptional with absolutely every single event broadcast live. Sometimes without commentary, this can be a blessing. You do expect a level of bias from the home town commentators but on occasions they have taken this to new levels. I think even the locals have tired after yet another gushing interview with a Team GB member who has finished 7th, whilst ignoring the winner.
We all love to bag commentators from another land (Australian Rugby?) and certainly our own leave a bit to be desired but the constant cheer leading of the BBC has been a bit hard to take. That said, Michael Johnson and Denise Lewis are class at the Athletics.
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