Category Archives: Olympics

London 2012: Meet the Superhumans

I managed to catch some of ABC 2’s coverage of the Paralympic games last night, and I was really impressed with the amount of access the ABC has had to the athletes. I saw in depth interviews with Matt Cowdrey (S9 Swimmer) and Kieran Modra (vision impaired cyclist), and his pilot. Kieran in particular is totally inspirational. The guy had an accident and broke his neck about 8 months out from the Paralympics, and yet here he is, bringing home the gold in the men’s individual B pursuit. The athletes came across as down to earth, determined, and pretty damn honest. They didn’t look like they had been drilled on what to say. We didn’t just have to be satisfied with 30 second breathless interviews after their events either, so well done ABC 2 on that. The only problem is that the ‘panel’ consists of random non-sports commentators with usually one retired (or current) paralympian. I have found their banter a bit painful to watch. Let’s get to the sport, people!

So on to the sport, the Australians had a blazing first day!

Jayme Paris on the Velodrome

Susan Powell took the individual C4 pursuit at the velodrome (while clocking a new World Record) and Kieran Modra was fastest in the men’s individual B pursuit. Jayme Paris, who I am quite fond of after seeing a feature on her on SBS Cycling Central, broke the world record in the qualifiers for the C1 5k Individual Pursuit!

Jacqueline Freney won gold in the 100m S7 backstroke and Matt Cowdrey became Australia’s most decorated Paralympian after winning silver in the 100m S9 butterfly.

It seems like our Paralympians are out there doing us proud and will bring home a significant medal haul. If winning is what matters, why aren’t these guys front and centre on a mainstream TV broadcaster, like Channel 9? If only these guys could become household names like Stephanie Rice and Cadel Evans or Anna Meares.

The event I am looking forward to most though is the wheelchair rugby. I have been fascinated with it ever since I saw the film ‘Murderball’ which is about the US Wheelchair Rugby team. It’s not really big here, so the one game that I went to was pretty tame compared to the impact and speed of International level sport.

When I was watching the events last night, I thought I needed a bit more information about the classification scheme – the commentators were not much help. I found this nice article at ABC’s website here.

The paralympics are being aired on ABC 2 in Australia and Channel 4 in the UK. Check your local guides! Don’t miss any of it!


Posted by on August 31, 2012 in Olympics, Paralympics


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Australia’s Tall Poppy Syndrome ruins the Olympics: London 2012


Australia is currently sitting 24th in the Olympic medal tally with 1 gold, 12 silver and 7 bronze. We are behind Ethiopia, the Ukraine, and perhaps the cause of most angst is that we are behind New Zealand.

In particular, the weight of expectation for our swimmers was high. James Magnussen did not bring home the expected gold medal. He stated in post swim interviews that he did not sleep the night before his races. The expectations were clearly weighing him down, but I also wonder what impact the ban on Stillnox just before the Games rolled around had on James. Grant Hackett (ex-swimmer, now commentator) had been on a rampage in his own family home and after a tearful (staged) apology the revelation that he had been abusing the sleeping pills caused our Olympic officials to ban Stillnox. It is quite feasible that James and other swimmers were using it to help them sleep before meets – it’s advantage is that it is fast acting, and doesn’t have the hangover effects of some other sleeping tablets. We won’t find out from James though, he would have been told to keep the sleeping pill stuff under wraps. Maybe it will all come out some time in the distant future, if anyone still cares.

Emily Seebohm was widely critisised for crying after she won a silver medal. People were telling her to harden up and stop being a spoilt princess. This is a bit harsh against a backdrop where the media are constantly analysing our lack of gold.

Also, I wonder if anyone has stopped to look at how the end of the ‘super suit’ in swimming has corresponded with Australia’s demise as a swimming nation? It may be a case of how good rules can put a damper on the ‘arms race’ and make the playing field a little more equal.

Maybe it has all been magnified by the TV coverage. Naturally they set up to cover the sports that Australia was most likely to medal in, which meant that viewers were subjected to hours of swimming coverage, swimming repeats, swimming interviews, swimming commentary. We did win a gold, right at the start, but with the perceived lack of ‘success’, the viewers became uninterested and tetchy that they were missing the sailing, hockey and other sports.

Our track cycling team has not been slammed as hard as the swimmers, though Twitter has allowed a rider to snipe over selection in the first place. After the Track World Championships in Melbourne, a punter would pick Victoria Pendleton to come in over Anna Meares in the Keiren and the Sprint. We are yet to see what will happen in the sprint, but if Anna gets silver I will still be happy to watch the contest! The same with Jason Kenny vs Perkins in the sprint, it should be a good contest, and isn’t that what the Olympics are about?

I do like social media, following Australian diver Matthew Mitcham on Facebook (I added him during the Beijing Olympics), has been great – just look up his Ukelele videos on Youtube. The problem is that it gives all the knockers, the people who will take any excuse to cut down the tall poppies, a voice. On balance, I think Twitter has been detrimental to my experience of London 2012.

I am not going to read any more articles with ‘Twitter’ in the tagline, and I am certainly not going to read any more articles about ‘disaster’ and ‘disappointment’ and ‘misfiring’ and other things. I think we need to all sit back and enjoy the Olympics for what it is – a great sporting spectacle, and stop whining about our expectations not being met.

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Posted by on August 6, 2012 in cycling, Olympics


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