Aussie Winter Olympics Coverage: s’no good

If Channel Ten was hoping to inject a little snow magic into their Winter Olympics coverage, it’s more like a whiteout. With the exception of Roy & HG, the TV coverage is a 50-shades-of-bogan medley of skateboarding on snow and moguls. These are sports where Australia actually has an entry. Then Channel 10 tries to make it seem like this person is a star and relentlessly shows said hopeful eating cereal, hanging out with granddad, walking along the beach at sunset and answering questions like “Would you like to win a gold medal for Australia?”

Said hopeful will then finish say, 15th, and the commentator will say “they have put the world on notice”. I am not making this up. Then there are repeats of the top 15 performance. Note to Channel 10 – top 15 is not a medal! Note to taxpayers – we are funding this!

Meanwhile, back in Sochi, there are some fabulous events going on, with good-looking men in lycra, and we are seeing bugger all of it, due to there being no actual Australians who can ski downhill fast.

I’d like to see more ski jump, downhill and skating. More scenery and more Scandinavians in lycra. That’s what I call viewing gold.


Gyrating Giro Keeps me Spinning Around

It’s on again. The Race for Pink.

That’s right, the Giro d’Italia, which is Italian for Tour de France, is back on SBS 2 once again.

Each May around 200 world-class cyclists battle it on a tour of Italy, with their view firmly fastened on the bum in front of them.

The Giro D’Italia is the precursor to the Tour de France, but in my view, it’s better. Why? It’s more casual, more chaotic, the riders are fresher as it’s earlier in the season, the scenery is fabuloso and … they wear pink.

That’s right, none of this pansy yellow jersey stuff of the Tour de France. In the Giro d’Italia, the leader of each stage gets to don a pink jersey. That’s why it’s dubbed as the Race for Pink.

What I love about the Giro is the chance to take in Italy’s sumptuous scenic and cultural delights. Bellissimo men. But only if you like to see fit, athletic, tanned, European guys (and the odd top Aussie) in lycra. If you don’t like that, stick to watching badminton.

But back to the Giro. It is amazing more people don’t know about it. Watching a peloton (do you like my new expert lingo?) race downhill and then sprint, seemingly on top of each other, to the finish line each night is adrenalin on steroids.

Also, not unlike religion, there is the mystery of how the whole thing works. It seems whoever wins a particular stage, gets to wear a coloured jersey. There’s a pink jersey, a red jersey, a blue jersey, a white jersey and a King of the Mountain Jersey (which I think might double up as the blue jersey but who would know?)

I have been watching the Giro for a few years and still am no closer to figuring it out. But with scenery (in all its forms) like this, does it really matter?

If you’re interested (you know you want to), it’s on SBS 2 every night at 6pm.

When fly boy becomes cry boy

Boo Hoo Matthew Mitcham, olympic diver, crystal meth addict and, oh, author.

Hot on the heels of Thorpie’s book, where he revealed he suffered from depression, the press are saying that Mark Mitcham’s book reveals the rigours and stress of realising that olympic dream.

I’m just waiting for Steve Hooker‘s book where he reveals depression from being both a ranga and an olympic athlete. And Stephanie Rice, oh, the deprivation from being a Golden Girl and a fast and loose tweeter. Then there’ll be the awesome foursome and the entire 2012 male swim team.

It’s tough winning gold and then … not. But not as tough as writing a book with no plot. Early mornings of freestyle practice and lunches of protein shakes are not an enthralling read. It’s pretty hard to flog a book in time for Christmas that makes swim strategy sound exciting. So, enter the addiction, the battle with depression, the crystal meth – makes a non Olympic performance more readable.

Now, I don’t want to suggest (even though I just did) that Thorpie and Mitcham didn’t suffer real problems, apart from bombing out, that is. Thorpie seems like a sensitive kind of guy, and has been a good ambassador for Australian sport and Australia in general. He did a good job with the BBC swim commentary team from all accounts at the olympics and is a different mould of sports hero. Ditto Mitcham, who has an engaging kind of manner, and clearly has had to be brave enough to come out and be an Australian sports star. Takes guts.

Maybe Thorpie did suffer depression, only he knows that. Maybe Mitcham did experiment badly with crystal meth. Maybe both things are true. But … it also makes good book fodder. And is their struggle any less applicable for olympic team members who work hard but don’t get anywhere and no-one knows their name and they don’t suffer depression, but are just a bit glum about it all. Or they don’t get into the crystal meth scene, they just drink a few extra wines than they should at night with dinner. I’m sure this must happen but if they tried writing a book, apart from their mum, who would care?

Anyway, I won’t be buying either book. Or Stephanie’s, or the male swim team. Instead I’ll take potshots from the side. I’ve got an olympic medal in that.

Channel 9’s post race interviews just not cricket

I know we cannot expect too much from channel 9. As a West Wing fan, I know that they cannot even tell the time and would be hard-pressed to tell you the date. They are working to capacity on so many things that the rest of us learnt in kindergarten.

They should never have been given the responsibility of Olympics coverage (see previous rant), and true-to-form, their athletics reporters have mangled the post-race interview.

For instance, the athletics reporter. Who is he? I know don’t know. But I know he is very good at sucking up big-time to Usain Bolt, but when it comes to a two-bit Aussie athlete, he’s a bully.

These athletes have just come off the field; they’ve lost; the dream is over and he asks: “What went wrong?” Where did the strategy fail? How do you feel?

I’m waiting for someone to say suicidal, because to be honest, that’s the way they look. They haven’t even had a chance to internalise it, talk to their coach, girlfriend, boyfriend, mum and here comes channel 9. Bullseye. Right between the eyes.

When channel 9 interviewed sprinter John Steffensen after a disappointing race (well he’s not Jamaican – he never had a chance!), channel 9 went further. They said John Steffensen frequently fails to deliver and asked him what he was going to do about it. It was wrong question, wrong time. (Plus these people are athletes – not Mensa candidates!)

Well channel 9, John Steffensen is friends with Usain, so what are you going to do about that, huh? And Usain’s coming to Australia too and is going to hang out with John. They are coming straight to your hood, they are going to smack you around a bit just where it hurts and then ask you what went wrong?


Who are those other Jamaican sprinters?

Usain‘s got some moves. And so does Johan Blake.

Between them they could run a mime acting school. Let’s see; lightning bolt, prayer, lion, haircut, messiah – yeah they’ve got the full range of actions you could ever want.

We love the pantomime. Usain and his trusty sidekick, Blake, are crazy mad, and we could watch them for hours. It also kinda helps that they can outrun the Americans. And everyone else.

But spare a thought for his compatriots. After the mens 4 x 100m relay you would think it was a two-man show. The cameras were firmly fixed on Bolt and Blake.

During the medal presentation, the antics continued. But only by Bolt and Blake. The other two Jamaicans (this was a team effort!) were strangely normal. Even a little bit peeved.

Maybe they were thinking: Enough already. Can you just put a sock in it. Yeah, we’ve seen it before. Can you just shut up and be still, can we get our medals and be out of here. Enough with the theatrics. 

The thing is, I don’t even know the names of the other Jamaican sprinters who won gold in the men’s relay. The media is obsessed with Bolt – understandably so – but he’s probably not the only Jamaican who can run really fast.

Dopey scandal – Channel 9 olympics coverage

Channel 9‘s olympics coverage has bounced between smarmy and confused. If these were qualities in a person then you’d cross the road to avoid them. However if you are on free to air TV, it’s not really an option. Unless you like watching repeats of Inspector Rex on SBS (actually I do!).

But back to the dog called Channel 9. What really gets my goat is that Channel 9 have two whole extra channels to play with. So, they could have easily and cheaply shown the olympics on two channels – one for games like basketball, hockey, heck why not throw in a little of the Swedish handball game. And the main showcase channel (ie 9 itself) for segments of all the other stuff – gymnastics, track and field, swimming.

At the moment, they are jumping around from sport to sport like channel surfing is an olympic sport. Then when Usain and the girls rowing clashed, they couldn’t decide what to do so they installed the split screen, a filming device not seen since 1973.

It is hard to believe that in this age of youtube, pay tv and internet that channel 9 could treat us so badly – and get away with it.

Nothing less than a parliamentary enquiry is needed. Next time, channel 9 shouldn’t be allowed to go near the olympics. The whole thing should be given to the ABC – channel 2 for the main events, channel 24 can be used for spillover events, Wilko can commentate and Wendy and Ange can host.

Fat cat olympics officials in the money race

$170 million isn’t that much. Not if you are John Coates. He’s a man already sitting on $100 mil and clearly he needs more.

It’s not for him. It’s for Straya.

See, according to John’s magic formula: money + John Coates Olympic foundation = gold for Straya. Forget silver and bronze – they are for losers.

John’s magic formula is not his (a little like the million dollars). It’s the formula used by countries to plan for gold medals. Countries with a bit of spare change that is, not say, Moldovia or any country connected with Eddie the Eel.

But there’s something rather dispiriting about what is meant to be an amateur sports event being manipulated and having the buggery spreadsheeted out of it for the sake of gold medals. It’s what happens when the olympics is run by accountants. Or fat cat bureaucats.

I know it’s reality. It just seems somehow deeply wrong.

Desperately searching for hidden media gold

Something is missing from this year’s olympics for the Aussie press. Apart from actual gold medals, we don’t have a national new superstar. Last time it was Stephanie Rice, in Sydney it was Cathy Freeman, Athens, the Thorpedo was still around.

This olympics there’s no bright-eyed, gold-winning new kid on the block. The closest we have is Kim Crow, the rower. She ticks a few boxes: young, blond, nice … but silver, not gold, gold, gold. And there’s another problem – she doesn’t do social media. At least not when she’s competing.

Not only do we have a gold drought, we have a nice happy Aussie-values story. It’s got so bad that we’ve started to adopt Britain’s icons – Jess Ennnis she feels kind of like ours now. Surely there’s some Aussie connection somewhere? Some pet dot called Oz somewhere in the family tree? She just seems so nice, friendly, relaxed – SHE’S OURS!

Plus we can claim any of the three golds NZ has so kindly snared on our behalf for us. Thanks Kiwis – those rowing golds are coming in mighty handy now. Oceania is the winner! Australasia, gold, gold, gold … but still no new media darling.

Snivelling rowing cryboaties

Nobody died. Nobody got hurt. But someone forgot to tell Drew Ginn and men’s four rowing team. A silver medal and these boofheads are carrying on like someone has been mean to their teddybear.

Later Drew Ginn said he hadn’t been this sad since grandpa died.

Is it just me, or should someone teach these snivelling cry babies a lesson and belt (if necessary) some sense into them.

I know they were favourites, I know they’d worked hard, I know Drew Ginn would have been Oz‘s most decorated rower if he’d pulled off gold. I get all that. But this is sport! Nothing is a foregone conclusion, much as we’d like the nice ones, the good-looking ones or the Australian ones to win. That’s why we watch sport live, cryboaties! It’s a game, anything can happen.

If you want a foregone conclusion you are in the wrong game. Instead watch a James Bond film. Or listen to Andrew Bolt.

The spectacle of these grown men carrying on like pack of petulant poodles is pathetic. And if you think about it, it’s un-Australian. Traditionally we are the underdog, not the top dog. And traditionally we are self-effacing in our achievements.

But this not-so-awesome-foursome wanted to win at all costs, even playing psychological games with the Brits beforehand, according to SMH. So not only did they not win, it seems the way they played the game wasn’t too flash either.

Throw the strategy in the deep end – swim faster!

Everyone has their own ideas about why the Australian swim team are performing to an Eddie the Eel standard.

Lazy? Arrogant? Over-technical, male coaches, stroke quality vs. quantity, distracting court cases … the list goes on.

But I think Eamon Sullivan summed up the problem after the team lost the 4 x 100m medley: “The strategy didn’t work. We needed a different strategy.”

OK, Eamon, try this on for size: swim faster! It’s a sprint!

It is 100m – all you have to do is dive in and swim your little heart out. And win. There’s no strategy, just swim fast. Preferably faster than the other guys.

Sure, you can train differently, eat more carbs, less carbs, more goji berries, visualise success, or at this stage of the games – pray! It’s not going to hurt! But essentially – swim fast.

There – that’s the strategy. Pure and simple, direct from the couch to the pool. And endorsed by Eddie the Eel.