BRUCE: What a night!
(pause)
SANDY: Unforgettable, Bruce, unforgettable.
And with those wonderful words from the big two in the booth, The Games of the 29th Olympiad got underway.
Suddenly it is Day 3 of competition and a lazy susan of sporting snacks is on the revolve with more than enough shooting, archery and boxing to keep the rowdy glued the TV for another big Beijing day. Not forgetting the clash, with a little bit on it, Australia vs. Brazil in Women’s basketball.

So far so good for the Opals … unlike Bogut’s Boomers who managed to drop one against Croatia 97-82 last night. This was an old fashioned boot up the date for Australian men’s basketball. Mercifully before the opening game tip-off our number one Opal, Lauren Jackson, went silly suggesting the team is prepared to “kill” for gold in 2008.

The jury is out on whether Lauren’s comments fall with in the spirit of the Olympic charter but violence has been part of the Australian way at the Olympics since The Original Lion of Athens, Edwin Flack flattened a spectator when he pulled on the wobbly boot four kilometers from the end of the marathon in 1896. It would be fantastic if the Spirt of the Lion is hovered over Beijing guiding our Opal Killers to gold.

Speaking of a little bit of rough, a terrific stink got lost in the build up to Friday night’s blast. The enduring feud between AOC heayweights Sydney’s Phil Coles and Melbourne’s Kevan Gosper was re-ignited at the Hong Kong Jockey Club last week.

This one is as long and as old as The Great Wall and is one of the cornerstones of our Olympic success. These two old sparring partners got amongst it in the Jockey Club carpark. They had to be pulled apart after three rounds of “What are you looking at!” while dignitaries and embassy staff looked nervous wondering if they should step in and offer to hold their coats. A feuding team is a winning team!

Everyone realises the bamboo walls of opposition have crumbled and it is now protest central in Bejing with the gold going early to PETA pin up, US Swimmer, Amanda Beard. She caught the eye with a well worked out nude poster campaign against fur.

I am not sure what the Chinese made of it as they are a very practical people when it comes to animal husbandry. Everyone hopes our PM, Kevin Rudd, who is a great admirer of The Beard’ s work in and out of the pool, was able to raise this burning issue at the highest level with both Chinese hosts and American blow ins. Sure he had a bit on his plate, but right-thinking animal lovers hope he made space to press home a powerful, positive fur message.

The Beijing air quality, which was last week’s talking point has improved dramatically over the weekend with a torrential down pour during the Women’s road race. Sadly air quality could now emerge as a big obstacle dogging Brisbane’s bid to hold the games in 2016. If anything, the air in Brisbane will be a real turn off for the IOC judging panel and kids around the world. It will be dull, old fashioned air with nothing in it and a real turn off.

The sophistication of these Games was again evident over the weekend when bookmakers framed a market on which sport would be busted for drug abuse first.

Swimming and diving were 10-1, cycling 15-1, boxing 25-1. This added real interest to competition until the athletics won when a Greek runner returned a positive. Punters can now get set on the total number of busts in the remaining days of competition. Olympic supremo, Jacques Rogge says that 40 athletes will be found out on the gear. But if you are going the plonk, watch out for any evidence that the subcontinental odds guru John the Bookie is lurking, as he would have inside mail which could be the big punter’s down fall.

Today it is a steady-as-he-goes Aussie assault which hasn’t turned into a gold rush yet. The assault was highlighted by Matt D’Aquino’s brilliant display representing the green and gold in judo. Matt’s games lasted 30 seconds when a 50/50 manoeuvre came horribly unstuck. In a split second he found himself flat on his back with the ref signalling “ippon“. Suddenly he was out of medal contention. Was Matt’s mat effort be an Olympic record?.

D’Aquino, now homeward bound, set a wonderful example to fat, unfit Australian kids everywhere. With his “golden” 30 seconds he has provided youngsters with dreams of competing at the highest level. Most kids, no matter how fat or unfit, could handle 30 seconds when the push comes to shove and hundreds are re-setting their goals for London 2012.

Finally, in an Olympic first, the Argentinian Women’s football team actually appeared to enjoy playing Sweden on Day 1. They went down 1-0. Enjoyment at this level has to be ruthlessly stamped out. If having fun catches on it will be the death of the Olympics as we know it.

Peter Fray

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