Our Olympic assault is on track this is not the time to be jumping off. An old fashioned gold rush is just around the corner. Never mind the know-it-all knockers: it is not too late to get on board the “Oi! Oi! Oi!” train and ride it all the way to the top step of the podium in The Golden Nugget Town.

The gold rush could begin today with Australians in action across Beijing. Lethal Leisel has a golden smirk, our getting wet mystery man, Hayden Stoeckel is having another lash, “Deadeye Dick” Russell Mark is about to step up and go bang and our horses are on the jump with only Germany between the team and meeting a grinning Princess Anne carrying a tray of gold medals.

While all that is great, our thoughts today are with our flag bearer, James Tomkins who will row for gold in the buggered boat hoping to make the final through the repercharge. Big Jim is appearing at his sixth Olympics. He was part of the Awesome Foursome in Barcelona in 1992. Post Olympics he went on with three team mates to mine rivers of gold promoting Golburn Valley two fruits. Then on to Atlanta where he saluted in the four again. In Athens he jumped ship and was one half of the Gods of Awe/Oar in the men’s pair. He is now packing down in the eights. Talk about the renaissance man of rowing. This bloke loves doing his best work sitting down, going backwards, pulling.

Yesterday it all came horribly unstuck when the steering on the tub failed. But hats off to the cox Marty Rabjohns who avoided the Canadians and got the barge down the course enabling the Aussies to remain alive in the competition.

If that was the glum side there is great story emerging from “Punchy” Tunstall’s All Star Troupe at the fights. After four straight losses in earlier bouts which had the squad reeling, the team got a “much needed shot in the arm” when lightweight slugger Anthony “The Bomber” Little put away Namibia’s Julius Indongo. With half the team eliminated in the first round it is hoped that Little can go and break a 20-year medal drought at this level.

But “Punchy” has a little more dry powder up his sleeve in the shape of “The St Mary’s Slugger” Luke Boyd, our batamweight. “The Slugger” is very particular about hair and grooming and feels comfortable training in an all-pink ensemble. Probably best not to communicate too much more to the Cuban team who could not care less about moisturiser and lip gloss but only want to know if “The Bomber” can handle a punch to head in the heat and humidity.

With the Games settling down for the long haul, rolling through like clock-work, the world of Olympic culture is starting to bloom. There was a lovely moment at the medal ceremony when competitors in the 10-metre air pistol, silver medallist Natalie Paderina from Russia and bronze medallist Nino Salukvadze from Georgia, embraced after the dish out of loot —  as a hot shooting war errupted across their countries at home. The fact that these two champs, chocoblock full of One-World-One-Dream spirit could shoot their way to step on the podium was a lesson for the world of the true meaning of the Olympics. There is a lesson there, although I am not sure what it is.

Still with things that go bang, spare a thought for Brett Erickson, American trap shooter who had a dream, a simple Olympic dream, to become the first gold medallist to win after being pronounced clinically dead. He had a pacemaker inserted after he carked it while running in 2004. With the population ageing and improvements in medicine, this clinically dead category may evolve into a stand alone novelty event at future Olympics. Look out Paralympics!

On the lighter side — Channel Seven’s Sunrise has launched a wonderful segment simply called “Can you tell a joke better than Kochie?”. Contestants are plucked from a the live audience and just get up and have a go. Australia was enchanted yesterday morning with the cracker “What do you get when you cross a kangaroo with a merino sheep?”.

You all know the answer. Honestly I was rubble for a couple of hours. It was all in the way it was told.

This morning Australia awoke to that corker about a blonde buying a microwave which turned out to be an oven. Gold! The audience was cactus again. If Sunrise maintains this standard it could actually overshadow the events in China. Hopefully the show will hold its nerve and run this one for the duration with gold, silver and bronze being dished out on the final morning of competition.

Finally two things are beginning to emerge from the Seven coverage of these Games (going live when football commitments permit). The first is that there is always a great story in the green and gold. This great narrative, regardless of the discipline, involves Aussies sounding a warning as they get the business done before making a statement. If a big statement can be made the next move is to throw down a gauntlet. A gauntlet can be thrown so long as the athletes do not lose composure. It sounds so simple.

The other thing that comes through loud and clear is that Uncle Toby’s has raised the muesli bar to even greater heights.

Peter Fray

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