The lazy susan spins at an ever dizzying speed in Beijing. All eyes on The Cube where the glamour event, the men’s 100 meters will be “special”. (Thanks very much, Bruce). It is a quick dash there and back but hopefully a couple of gauntlets can be thrown along the way. Before another world record is smashed in the bloke’s, the forgotten woman of Australian swimming, Jessica Schipper, will struggle into the quick suit and have a thrash for gold in the 200 meters fly. There is a supporting card of nice swims.
This afternoon Bogut’s Boomers, who have powdered on the paint, have a chance of redemption from their Olympic nightmare when they take on Iran. Australia’s table tennis teams, The Pings and The Pongs are warming the bats for a quick burst of action at either end of the table. No one will be having $20.00 on the side when the Men take on China while the Women have a crack against Korea. The Sea Cucumbers, our men’s water polo side, are getting wet against Canada and the golden girls in the Hockeyroos have another bunny in their sights. This time it is South Africa.
But with the good comes the disappointment. Suddenly Graeme Arnold’s Olyroos are packing their bags and heading for the airport after being put away over night by the might of the Ivory Coast Elephants, 1-0. The Olyroos will now wander the world game wilderness, eating only bread and dripping, praying for redemption in London in 2012. Cadel Evans after flying for fifth in the cycling time trial will take his buggered hip, his dicky knee, his shot groin and his twanged hamstring off for a long lie down on the nearest banana lounge.
But our best performance on the sideline of the Games was produced yesterday by Greg “Thumper “McFadden. “Thumper”, coach of The Sea Slugs, the women’s water polo crew, is today’s green and gold hero. He simply blew up after the 7-7 draw against Hungary. It is a little technical, but the refereeing gave him “the sh-ts”. “Thumper” really opened up both barrels taking aim in particular at Mario Brguljan from Montenegro. AOC media manager, Mike Tancred, who was standing next to “Thumper” got drenched in the backwash and tried to laugh it off as a joke. But “Thumper”, to his credit, kept going describing the pool deck officiating as “total rubbish”.
“Thumper’s” spray highlights the appalling judging at these Games. The wonderful spectacle of shooting has been reduced to a loud joke with the caper being revolutionised, as “misses” are being jotted down as “hits”. This occurs most noticably when the home team is going bang.
There is a set against our boxers at the Bejing Workers’ Auditorium where officials refuse to see Australia as a credible boxing nation. “Punchy” Tunstall’s crew virtually have to king hit an opponent and knock them out cold before they score a point.
Any sport that requires subjective judging, like diving and gymnastics, is being reduced to a shambles with poor decisions being made by international judging panels. The crowd rumble is a far more accurate guide to the score than anything the judges might serve up with the cards numbered from 1 to 10.
On the other hand B.O.C.O.G. have finally got the message that the world wants to see pictures of the Chinese enjoying these Games. Television demands that seats be filled with cheering spectators who look as though they might have a tiny clue and a flicker of interest in what they are watching.
Yesterday buses were ordered to take spectators to the road cycling. Regular routes out of the city were commandeered and redirected towards the Great Wall. The passengers were tipped out and told to start waving. They were there to fill the background shots for the Men’s and Women’s cycling time trial. This is the equivalent of sitting on a 380 bus bound for Bondi and suddenly being diverted to watch the canoeing at the International White Water Centre in Penrith during the Sydney Games in 2000.
Elsewhere it is obvious that beach volleyball is a sport the Chinese are struggling to get a handle on. It is main reason why no one has bothered to turn up. This was noticed at the highest level and the organising committee has now unleashed squads of volunteers to fill the seats. To help them understand the duel on the sand, the scoreboard at the Mao Tse Tung end of the stadium carries instructions indicating how the crowd should respond to each point.
This improved audience aren’t idiots and after each cracking point, before the extremely loud and totally inappropriate musical snippet from Who let the Dogs Out or The Theme from Shaft, a comment appears on the big screen allowing “fans” to applaud appropriately. Modest clapping for “Top Shot”, wild applause for “Great Spike” and go completely silly on cue for “WOW!” This is the way to get a nation interested in a sport they could not give a bugger about.
And finally lets highlight those who came did their best and found that their best was not quite good enough. This column has already highlighted the wonderful skill of mat star Matt D’Aquino, who thrilled the world with a magical 30 seconds on the judo mat. Matt’s tilt has inspired hundreds of kids to get off the couch and begin training for 2012 where their golden dreams will be realised.
While that is great let’s pause at this telling moment as the Australian brown out in bronze is about to tip over into an old fashioned gold rush and celebrate the first Australian to be bumped from the Five Ringed Big Show in Bejing. It was Erin Carroll from Ballarat. On day one of competition Erin turned out at 9.10am going for gold, dreaming of podium finish against Yoana Martinez from Spain in badminton. Erin was able to pack the bag and forget about competition thirty minutes later.
It is cruel. But by 9.40am on day one of competition Erin’s dream was over. While disappointed, Erin has bravely offered to stay on and do the “eating and shopping, watching and sleeping” for many Aussies still involved in competition. Spin the lazy susan in Erin’s direction as she has another big helping of Peking Duck. Yum.