Beijing Olympics


So the Beijing Olympics are over. There were some great events yesterday. The US won the men’s basketball gold, beating Spain in a tough match. I think Spain gave up in the last few minutes, otherwise the margin of victory would’ve been even narrower. There was some great boxing, particularly the Super Heavyweight (+91 kgs) finals, won in flamboyant style by Roberto Cammarelle of Italy, who, after completely outclassing Zhang Zhilei of China in the first three rounds, knocked him down in the fourth.

Then there was the closing ceremony. Very spectacular. Very Chinese.

Of course, the wonderful fireworks display probably meant that Beijing’s air quality would go back to pre-Olympic levels, but I don’t think we’ll hear any complaints on that front.

Coming back to yesterday’s boxing – the commentator was an enthusiastic American. Either he’s a fan of Sidhu, or Sidhu is a fan of his. Sample these wonderful lines:

“He can do a Lionel Richie here…..all night long.” (About a boxer who kept nimbly dancing around his opponent without any signs of fatigue)

“…and he’s taking on the Chinese monstrosity..’ (He probably meant to use the word monster for Zhang Zhilei – 6’7” and 200 lbs; not a nice thing to say!)

“He may be ready to take a trip down the boulevard of broken dreams….” (Obviously, the boxer in question lost the bout!)

‘The referee asked Zhang Zhilei what his name was and Zhang said Thursday…” (Explaining why the referee stopped the bout after Cammarelle knocked down Zhang)

‘He’s got a jab that’s stiffer than a box of Viagra….” (Self-explanatory!)

‘He’s got more hits than a Pamela Anderson website…” (About a boxer at the receiving end of a flurry of punches)

Entertaining stuff.

And while on the topic of entertaining commentary, the DD guys weren’t far behind. From incoherently strung sentences to factual errors, they brought us the best of sporting action in the worst possible way!

For instance, the commentators consistently kept referring to poor Richard Mantell, the British hockey player, as ‘mental’ during the match against Australia.

Then there was this lady who clearly wanted to make her point, grammar be damned: ‘Another important point I’d like to make, being a women….’ I’m terrified she actually meant there were more like her!

But the crème de la crème, ladies and gentlemen, has to be this brilliant quote:

When animals and men come together, it’s equestrian…

Call me Quirky, but I found the associated imagery disturbing.

Every once in a while, you come across a story that really makes you feel good. That makes you believe in what people call ‘the triumph of the human spirit’.

The medals of Vijender Kumar and Sushil Kumar are triumphs in the face of official apathy and indifference, and these guys deserve every last bit of the praise they get. They have run harder and longer than most others to get to this stage. But for me, the defining story has to be that of Natalie du Toit. A swimmer with an amputated leg, she not only qualified for the Summer Olympics (a first), she also competed in what people call the toughest swimming event, the 10 km open water race. And she finished 16th, a minute and twenty-two seconds behind the winner, and ahead of 9 other able-bodied Olympic-level swimmers, including the winner at the Pan American games of 2007.

These are true parables of dreams and determination. And amidst the well-deserved accolades that Phelps and Bolt have got, let us remember the odds that were stacked against Vijender and Sushil. And let us also recognise the uplifting story of one woman’s spirit, her fight and triumph.