I’m writing this from my couch while semi-watching Andy Murray vs. Roger Federer battle it out for the Men’s Tennis gold medal. Although this is just one of the many medal events at London 2012 it is also, perhaps, one of the most significant for the host nation. As I write Murray is up one set to love and 2-0 up in the second set. Less than a month ago Federer beat Murray in the Wimbledon final but now, the day after perhaps the most glorious day for British sport since England lifted the Football World Cup in 1966, Andy Murray is all over R-Fed and if it keeps going like this Great Britain will have another gold medal to add to the tally. Federer is playing like he is scared. Scared of Murray. Scared of the crowd. Scared of Britain. If Federer, who is probably the greatest man to have ever played the sport, wins this, I will be extremely surprised. I will also be pretty disappointed.
Unlike us Aussies, the British don’t really know what glory feels like these days. It’s been nearly half a century since anything like this has happened to them.
They won three gold medals on Saturday night. I remember the jubilation of Sydney 2000 when we smashed those arrogant American closet gay frat boys in the pool then the next week had Cathy Freeman make history in the 400m.
As a kid living in Sydney, the Olympics were the first time I really felt any sense of pride about where I am from and who we are as a people. After the Olympics ended we won a whole bunch of other shit too. We also didn’t go into recession, live in Wolverhampton or have any riots that lasted longer than a day. The British deserve this. Probably a lot more than we did.
Wimbledon is a sea of Union Jack’s. The crowd seem to be more confident that their boy can get up against the same opponent who outclassed him less than a month ago. At the beginning of the third set Murray is up 6-2 6-1. Its an absolute bloodbath, The sun is shining and Great Britain no longer look like sad old rockers reliving past glories. They are vibrant, proud and looking forward to the future. It’s like Cool Britannia but with more energy and less cocaine.
Third set. 5-4. Murray has won the first point, Federer the second. Murray with an ace makes it 30-15. Holy shit! Another ace! 40-15! Can he do it? Can Andy Murray win a Gold Medal at the Olympics? He hasn’t won a grand slam title before. Just 28 days ago he lost to Federer in the Wimbledon final.
Ace. Against the odds, Andy Murray wins another gold for Team GB.
I am so happy there is a nation of people experiencing the sheer joy we had in 2000. In recent years the UK have been through some serious shit, both in the real world and in the realm of sport. London 2012 not only represents a period of great success in the sporting history of Great Britain but a turning point on how the rest of the world see this small yet prolific country.
I cant tell if Andy Murray is naturally a super relaxed guy or he is just completely overwhelmed by what he has just done that he has forgotten how to express emotion. One thing is for sure this has been one of the moments of London 2012 for me.
Now what to do for the 5 hours before Usain Bolt?
Well the Olympics are just around the corner and I for one am somewhat excited. I find the Olympics to be a lot of fun. All the clichés about glory and prowess are all true. If I didn’t have better things to do I would stay home for the whole fortnight and watch everything I could.
In 2008 I did just that. I had been struck down by a very nasty flu just as the Beijing Games begun. I was between houses, unemployed, newly single and crashing at my folks place. I spent days on the couch and nights either on the couch or in bed. Although this might not sound like the ideal position one could be in in life, it was perfect for me. The 29th Summer Olympiad was starting and I had nothing better to do (except look for a job and move out of my parents place).
I got into quite a few sports I hadn’t normally though much about. Gymnastics was one of them. How humans could achieve these massive feats of agility and strength while others (me) were laying on the couch was kind of inspiring. I also really got into the rowing. I don’t really know why it sucked me in as much as it did but I think it had something to do with the grace the boat glides through the water. It’s like a swan if a swan was controlled by humans and went really fucking fast. It was also kind of Roman; these men had purpose and looked a bit gay.
Of course I followed the sports I had developed an interest in during past Olympics. Athletics, Swimming and Diving always get my attention. In 2008 we had Michael Phelps in the pool who was a total freak. Stephanie Rice was great too even though it was a bit creepy how almost all straight Aussie men did the whole time she was in the spotlight was talk about how much they wanted to root her. Usain Bolt was next level on the track too. A delight to watch.
The 100m sprint is the Olympics most popular event and for good reason. There are no stroke restrictions or handicaps like other sports and events. It is the shortest distance in Olympic running. As it requires no equipment except for legs and a will to win, it is open to everyone regardless of income. The event determines every four years who the fastest man/woman in the world is. No biggie.
I always dug Linford Christie as a kid, and not just because he had a sick name. When I was seven and the Barcelona Olympics were on he made me feel like a winner just watching him. Donovan Bailey not so much (I think it’s because he is Canadian and I find it hard getting excited about Canada, not racist or anything I just cant do it for some reason). Marion Jones got me all giddy during the Sydney games but it turns out she was a filthy drug cheat. The fact that went undetected for like seven years was a pretty good effort in itself though. She should be given some sort of prize for that right?
Olympic football is bullshit and a total waste of everyone’s time. Nobody gives a shit except people who only watch football and have no interest in any other sports. Basically for those who aren’t clued up on the politics of Association Football (Soccer to Howards Australia) it goes like this: Football is run internationally by a governing body called FIFA. FIFA are based in a titanium bunker located exactly six Gregorian miles into the Earths Core. They are run by an ex Nazi war criminal with a penchant for young Moroccan boys called Sepp “Number One” Blatter. Now SS Blatter cares not for the IOC (International Olympic Committee) and does not allow them the rights to any of the full international teams. FIFA only allows teams participating in the Olympics to have three players aged over 23 years. This automatically means the football competition at the Olympic games is cheapened and all the glory is saved up for the World Cup, which to FIFA’s credit is always amazing and completely worth the wait.
Football shouldn’t be an Olympic sport because every single player would rather win the World Cup than an Olympic gold medal. If they say otherwise they are liars. The same goes for Tennis.
The Olympics should be about stuff people don’t usually watch. Sports that men and women train their entire lives for but only get attention for it a couple of weeks every four years, and that’s if they are lucky enough to participate in two Olympic Games.
I cant wait to pretend I know what I’m talking about while watching Javelin, to marvel at how far back from the table the Table Tennis guys are and to see how fucking naff the opening ceremony is going to be. It should be a good couple of weeks.
Olympics part two coming soon…