Friday, 29 August 2008

Now That's What I Call A Sport

This is a slow burner, but it’s worth it.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Putting Obelix To Shame

My friend Robert said he must try the swimming portion of this routine some time.

"She [a nutritionist] recommended cutting out the egg yolks, replacing the white bread with whole-wheat, throwing some fruit and vegetables into the mix, and spreading the food out over the day with regular snacking."

I'm not sure that's going to cut it when Michael retires and is no longer spending just the five hours a day in the pool.

Friday, 15 August 2008

On Sport

I’ve been having a text message exchange with Craig about the Olympics. He has written about them on his terrific blog.

Both the last Wimbledon and these Games have crystallised my realisation that I’m not that bothered how the Brits do. It’s quite a strange thing to come to terms with for a patriot.

Simply put, if a competitor is British that’s a big plus in their favour but not a guarantee of my support or interest. I would have been very disappointed if Andy Murray had slipped past Rafa Nadal at Wimbledon, and there are whole swathes of sports at the Olympics that hold pretty much no appeal.

I can’t wait for the men’s 100 metres final. It won't be won by a Brit, but there may be a new world record. British success in cycling is just peachy, but I’m afraid I can’t get that worked up about it.

Craig will claim that the BBC should promote minority sports, both because we (or rather some Britons) may be good at them and to encourage more people to take part. That’s fair comment. But the BBC should also reflect current interest – and I don’t think I’m alone in being keener on the 100 metres heats than I am on the sailing.

Are some sports inherently more worthwhile than others? Well, the short answer is no. If you enjoy it then it’s worthwhile, all the more so if it’s good exercise. But of course sports vary widely not only in terms of the skill levels employed but also in terms of how popular they are. That popularity - or rather participation level - has an impact on how impressed we should be by high achievement in a particular event.

Certainly some minority sports allow people to exhibit breathtaking skill, as do other activities. The world’s best tightrope walkers may not have many competitors, but they do something extraordinary. Whereas (whilst acknowledging that I am an athletic dunce) I would state confidently that what Seb Coe achieved is truthfully far more impressive than what Steve Redgrave managed. (Ducks for cover.)

Oh, and although I think the National Lottery is one of Sir John Major’s greatest achievements (inevitably made worse by Labour, who have raided it to pay for their own projects), I don’t believe it should fund elite athletes. Facilities yes, individuals no.

If you can’t whip up enough interest to attract sponsors or a salary, then I’m afraid that’s tough luck, or should be. It isn’t in the national interest to allow people to be unemployed at our expense so they can spend all their time on what amounts – if there is insufficient public interest to enable them to pay their way – to a hobby.

Is Only One Steve McClaren

Thanks to Mark for alerting me to this.

Either it was gloriously stupid of Steve McClaren to think that suspending the laws of English grammar and putting on an absurd accent would make it easier for Dutch viewers to understand him OR it was a magnificent piece of satire.

As he’s a former Oxford United man, I’m wilfully going to misinterpret it as the latter.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Michaela Breeze Is Awesome

Michaela Breeze’s courage at the Olympics utterly demolishes the fatuous viewpoint – usually expressed by people with negligible athletic talent – that anything other than first place is invariably worthless.

Clean as a whistle, articulate, determined and an all-round good egg from what I can see, Michaela is a credit to the British team. And to clean and jerk 100 kilos with a back injury is remarkable. If you doubt that, slap 100kg on a bar at the gym and try to lift it above your head. It’s more than I’ve ever done.

I haven’t had the chance to see much of the Games so far. But I’ve already been reminded of how much I love weightlifting. How could I not? It's a sport that takes place on a stage!

And unlike bodybuilding, you can wear more than a pair of pants.
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