Category Archives: Olympic Village

Patriotism – Why I love the Olympics

Most people will agree with me – they love the Olympics because it brings out a love for their country and the pride of being selected to represent their nation or to be able to support those selected.

I have had the privilege of wearing a Great Britain vest.

But, some people just don’t get it…

I would far rather patriotism being expressed through sport rather than war.

From the WSJ.

Assorted TV commentators keep opining that the Olympics are all about the brotherhood of man, rather than national ambition or patriotism. But don’t tell that to the fanatically nationalist Chinese — or to Kobe Bryant, the NBA star who is playing with Team USA in Beijing.

In an interview Friday on NBC, the world’s most famous basketball player told Chris Collinsworth how he got “goosebumps” when he received his Olympics uniform. “I actually just looked at it for a while. I just held it there and I laid it across my bed and I just stared at it for a few minutes; just because as a kid growing up this is the ultimate, ultimate in basketball.” The Los Angeles Laker went on to call the U.S. “the greatest country in the world. It has given us so many great opportunities, and it’s just a sense of pride that you have; that you say, ‘You know what? Our country is the best.'”

Mr. Collinsworth seemed either startled or impressed by such sentiment, and asked, “Is that a cool thing to say in this day and age? That you love your country, and that you’re fighting for the red, white and blue? It seems sort of like a day gone by.”

To which Mr. Bryant replied: “No, it’s a cool thing for me to say. I feel great about it, and I’m not ashamed to say it. I mean, this is a tremendous honor.”

The Glory of Just Showing Up

For many small nations, the Olympic experience lasts only a few minutes

Aishath Reesha, a 19-year-old 800-meter runner, had just finished practice at the Chaoyang Sports Center, a proletarian track sequestered from the Olympic mobs. She sat with her back to a recently whitewashed wall, an ice-pack on her neck, and watched as a French sprinter sped past.

“We can’t compete with people from other worlds,” she said in a whisper. “I’m not scared. My goal is to better my personal best.”

Ms. Reesha is from Maldives, a group of atolls in the Indian Ocean with a population of 379,000, per capita income of $4,600, and a serious worry about being washed away. Her personal best in the 800-meter race is 2:32.97; the Olympic record is more than 38 seconds faster.

“We are not qualified for the Olympics,” said her coach, whose name is Ahmed Faail. He was standing over Ali Shareef, his 100-meter runner, who was on flat on his back with a leg in the air. Mr. Faail was helping him work out a kink. “In the heats there are people with a lot of experience,” he said. “We will not be winning heats.”

Among the 222 countries that have sent athletes to the modern Games since 1896, only 130 have brought a medal home.

What’s billed as a meet for the fittest in truth has a second division of schlumps. Every nation is encouraged with money and training programs to send one man and one woman, even if they don’t have a soul who qualifies. The IOC doesn’t tally how many of the 10,500 athletes here get in that way, but they appear to number at least in the hundreds. Most end up swimming or running, activities where being inept doesn’t automatically result in broken necks.

Olympic universality has bred a line of famous bunglers, from Wym Essajas of Suriname, who missed his 800-meter heat in 1960, to Eric Moussambani of Equatorial Guinea, who took nearly two minutes to swim 100 meters in 2000. Yet for all its promotion of participation, the IOC gives its losers no glory: Its history-packed Web site displays only winning countries and their medal counts.

Asked where to find lists of also-rans, an IOC press officer suggests sending an email to its information center. It’s the sort of reply that’s long griped a small international club of amateur statistics nuts calling themselves the Oly Madmen. Led by Bill Mallon, a shoulder surgeon in Durham, N.C., the Madmen have spent five years building an easy-to-manipulate database that comprises every run, jump, throw, dive and somersault in Olympic history. It folds in Hector Hatch’s ninth-place welterweight boxing tie for Fiji in 1956, and the 51st-place mixed-free-pistol finish Aferdita Tusha racked up for Albania in 1972. The Madmen have compiled the records of 110,000 Olympic athletes and are at work on thumbnail biographies for each one; so far, they’ve done 24,000. WSJ.

Who cares who wins? Losing is much more interesting

Zzzz… zzzz… zzzz… Why can’t I stay awake? I’m an anorak, a sports junkie. Wherever sport is played, I take a ringside seat on my sofa, flicking between channels, screaming at referees, gobbling up statistics.

It should stir me to my soul that, in Beijing, an Olympic swimmer is rewriting the record books. I should be sitting up all night, cheering on the great Michael Phelps as he scythes through the water. But I just don’t care.

To find out why not, read here.

Five Ways Beijing Is the Biggest, Baddest Olympics Ever

A Bigger Budget

The numbers: At least $40 billion total, including $35 billion for new roads and subway lines, $1.8 billion for venue construction and renovation, and a $2 billion operating budge.

A Longer Torch Route

The numbers: 137,000 km (85,100 miles), 130 days, 20,000 torchbearer.

More Media Coverage

The numbers: 4 billion TV viewers, 3,600 hours of coverage in the United State.

More Volunteers

The numbers: 1.5 million volunteers from a pool of more than 2 million applicants.

More Security

The numbers: $6.5 billion for Beijing, $300 million for Olympic venues, 1 million video cameras, 100,000 antiterrorism squad members.

More details in Foreign Policy.

Bush and Volleyball Team

Presidential Business…

What a start!

As was anticipated – what an opening ceremony…

The opening drums were my favourite,  oh, then the giant firework footprints, the scroll, human painting, the globe, the ‘boxes’ and then there was the lighting of the torch…I guess all of it:

(I will add video as soon as I find a good one – all seem to be slide shows…)

Great photos here.

No 4.

4. Liu Xiang

Hurdles, China
Age: 25

When Liu Xiang claimed victory in the 110-m hurdles in Athens, delivering China its first ever sprint gold, you could almost sense the alarm in the announcers’ voices. Few had heard of this mystery athlete, much less knew how to pronounce his given name. What a difference four years make. In Beijing, Liu, 25, along with basketball star Yao Ming, will be the poster boy for China’s mighty Olympic squad. Here’s a quick language guide: his name (pronounced Sheeahng) means “to soar” in Chinese.

More.