Monday, 30 July 2012

Olympics - West Country style

We have our own way of doing things down here in the West Country. Never mind yer fancy London velodrome and aquatic centre; down here we have our own, low-environmental-impact version of the Olympics. 'Dung Olympics', organised by St Barnabas Church in neighbouring Warmley was a cracking success. And the best thing about it is that there is no need to knacker yourself out by years of training, which everyone knows is very bad for your health. I mean, take Paula Radcliffe who has just had to pull out of the games after a flare up of her osteoarthritis. A great pity for her of course. But I can't help thinking that she just doesn't look healthy. (A number of studies, by the way, like this one, have found that former elite athletes have significantly higher than average rates of osteoarthritis than us more sedentary folk.)  Exercise should be enjoyed in moderation.

Anyway, in Dung Olympics what happens is that everyone stands around chatting and watching a horse being led in a leisurely manner around a field. The field is divided into squares which have been sold to interested punters. When the horse decides to have a shit, the winner is the owner of the square in which the horse has done its business. Now that's what I call a good sporting event.

Over the bridge (meaning over in Wales for you non West Country folk), in Llanwrtyd Wells they've taken it a step further with the World Alternative Games. Already established on the annual sporting calendar as home of the World Bog Snorkelling Championships, this year the small Mid Wales town has expanded its repertoire to include such iconic sporting events as Worm Charming and Gravy Wrestling. For mountain bike enthusiasts there is the Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling race. As a feminist, I'm not so sure about the Wife Carrying event. On the other hand, it could be very useful to pair up with a fella who has intensively trained in the sport. No more staggering home from the pub, ladies!

Back at the Real Olympics, well, the opening ceremony was a triumph, wasn't it? And opened by a cyclist? Blimey. Who'd a thunk it? Doesn't stop motorists playing chicken with cyclists: 'ooh good someone on a bike: lets see how how close I can drive to them without touching.' But great to see Brad Wiggins ringing that bell. Let's hope he's ringing the changes to national attitudes too. As for the ceremony itself - I thought it was awesome. And so creative. The NHS bit was a bit weird, especially that giant dummy baby - but on the whole - jolly good effort. After all, anyone can let off a load of fireworks; but this event was really original. I'm only sorry I missed it. I was in the pub. Still that's what iPlayer is for huh?

But hands up - who thought the coverage of the men's and women's road cycling was utterly crap? The commentators for the women's race were about as enthusiastic as Eyore on a bad day. And utterly clueless. Half the time they didn't seem to know who was who. It's not their fault though apparently. It's  Twitter's fault. Too much tweeting near the cyclists was the problem apparently. I still don't see why this prevented the commentators actually telling me who was who. Lizzie Armitstead cycled a fantastic race for GB but you would never have known it from the commentary.

I'll probably dip in and out of the Olympic events over the next seventeen days and no doubt I'll get sucked in more and more as the days go by. But I can't help feeling they would have been improved by the inclusion of a donkey dung event and maybe a spot of worm charming.

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