WoAi London 2012

I’m sure most of you know I’m in London for the Olympics. It’s so great to be home for any reason at all, so the Olympics are just a bonus, but a massive one. I have tickets for 3 events : table tennis (I have to resist the urge to call it ping pong as they call it in China), artistic gymnastics and diving. All events where the Chinese are expected to do well.

But even without tickets, just being here and experiencing my home town during this time is great. I’ll pre-empt the age jokes by confirming I wasn’t around the last time London hosted the event back in 1948! So far I have been glued to the TV. There’s always so much going on and the commentary is top notch. If I was in Shanghai, I’d have to watch in the middle of the night, the commentary would be incomprehensible and of course, they would naturally focus on the strong Chinese events. I’m keen to watch those of course, but I also want to see some of the sports where the Chinese aren’t in contention, like football, cycling and so on.

Commentary might not be so important for sports I’m familiar with, but it’s so nice to have good commentary for sports I don’t know well, so I know what’s going on. Cycling is probably one of those. I was watching the women’s road race and I had no idea about the whole strategy, when to break from the pack (know as the peleton), etc. It was a thrilling race too, with the British rider, Lizzie Armitstead losing by just a bicycle length to Marianne Vos and giving Great Britain it’s first medal of 2012.

I am such a sucker for all the emotion and drama, and of course the controversy. I was stunned to see US coach John Leonard coming out and calling China’s Ye Shiwen’s 400m win “unbelievable”, “suspicious” and “disturbing”. It REEKS of sore loser with the emphasis on LOSER. To be clear, I am not saying there are no banned substances involved, but I do think it’s a slippery slope if every time something “unexpected” happens in sport, we immediately call drug abuse. EVERY medal winner is drug tested, so let’s wait for the results before slinging dirt. Did anyone cry cheat when Phelps won 8 golds in Beijing?

Sadly I missed the opening ceremony – I flew to London a few hours after it ended and at the time I was having a couple of hours sleep. I’d been out till 1am the night before so only had a couple of hours to pack and get a bit of sleep. So I can’t comment on how it compared to Beijing’s stunning opening ceremony or if it even matters. All I do know is that the Chinese may have a million drummers beating in sync, but they don’t have 007 and Her Majesty The Queen!

I’m afraid I don’t have wifi at my parents’ place, so my updates are going to be fairly infrequent, but I’ll do what I can to update when I can. Today the 4th full day and my first event is the table tennis tomorrow afternoon. Can’t wait!

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30 Responses to WoAi London 2012

  1. Yon says:

    I’m SO jealous that you’re watching these things live! I’ve been glued to the TV too!
    And I understand completely what you mean by good commentary. Sometimes I get annoyed with them and just play music with the TV on mute. The NBC guys in the US have been showing a lot of parent reactions this year and they even showed a clip of the French winning the 4×1 swimming relay with French commentary. It was so much different than the energy the US commentators were exuding.

  2. Bittermelon says:

    Did anyone cry cheat when Phelps won 8 golds in Beijing?

    No because Phelps had a history established. He did not just become great in a very short time. Ye Shiwen has no history and just suddenly became great, really really great, in a very short time. Swimming is one of several sports where doping has been a problem.

    I watched the opening ceremony on TV. Unfortunately it was pretty boring for me, except when the Queen jumped out of the helicopter.

  3. Bittermelon says:

    Congrats to your country for beating Brazil in football.

  4. WoAi says:

    @Yon – Yeah there’s not many things the Brits are good at but the BBC still does a good job on coverage!

    @Bittermelon – I think we’re going to disagree on this. I thought it was outrageous to come out and say that with no supporting evidence whatsoever. She hasn’t come from nowhere. In 2010 she swam the fastest 200m at the Asian games than anyone in the world that year. That’s 2 years ago. At the time, she stated her goal was to win in London 2 years later. She also beat the world record holder (from the US) last year in Shanghai. All medal winners are tested. And the Chinese train harder than anyone, certainly the Americans. That may also be a factor more so than drugs. Otherwise how do we explain the dominance of diving? If there were no surprises in sport there’d be no point watching. We had a stunning result yesterday with the British winning a bronze in the team gymnastics. Everyone including the British commentators were stunned. I just think it was rude and arrogant. After all, the test result was NEGATIVE. I’m okay for you to disagree but it just reeks of sour grapes.

  5. Suey says:

    19 medals and counting wooooooot hooooooo!!!

  6. WoAi says:

    @Suey – Yes, well done Phelps. That’s an outstanding achievement and we can all gracefully share in his amazing achievement rather than piss all over it like the American coach did for China’s achievement.

  7. T. says:

    Um, well, she beat her personal best by 5 seconds. That is fishy, not sore loserism.

    Also, swimming faster than Ryan Lochte over the last 25m.

  8. Stimpy says:

    You look so unhappy in that photo!

    Regarding the opening ceremony, download it or catch it on BBC iPlayer. You really need to watch it.

    Regarding the Chinese swimmer. The point made by T re. Ryan Lochte is a very good point. Also, don’t the Chinese women have form on this type of thing? And they got caught out. I think it looks very fishy.

  9. Bittermelon says:

    I am not saying I think she is doping. I am saying one cannot blame people for thinking that way.

  10. WoAi says:

    @T – The Australian swimming commentator for the BBC has won five golds a few years ago. He said he also shaved 5 seconds off his best when he was that young. Sore loserism it is. I guess if you’re American you look at it through a different lens.

  11. WoAi says:

    @Bittermelon – And I’m saying it’s poor sportsmanship. Sour grapes.

  12. WoAi says:

    @Stimpy – She ran part of a race faster than Lochte swam part of a race. I think that’s really desperately trying to find evidence of something that perhaps isn’t there. I guess the debate will continue but we’ve all stated our positions.

  13. WoAi says:

    Sorry guys maybe I haven’t expressed myself well. Imagine you train almost your whole life for this moment, you win gold and then some people accuse you of being a cheat. That’s pretty unkind when there’s no evidence. And really spoils what should be a great moment for the swimmer.

  14. Swiss James says:

    I feel for Xiao Ye- she has obviously trained very very hard to get to where she is, and I don’t think people would be throwing these accusations around if she was Australian, British or most other countries.

    When Bolt hammered the rest of the field in the 100m in Beijing there were similar sour-grapes cries of “cheat”, luckily most people acknowledged a great performance. When I was 16 I developed pretty quickly too (sadly it’s been all downhill from there).

    WoAi- did you see Le Clos’ dad interviewed by Sue Barker after his son won gold? Magic stuff

  15. Swiss James says:

    Claire thingibob I mean

  16. WoAi says:

    @Swiss James – It’s interesting. Here on the blog I’m in the minority. But in the UK, most of the coverage I have seen has been very supportive of Ye. But I think Ian Thorpe’s comments carry a lot of weight as he has been an Olympic gold medalist and he said he thinks it’s completely possible to shave 5 seconds off your time at that age.

    Haven’t seen that thing you mentioned but I will be sure to check it out. Sounds like the sort of thing I’m a bit of a sucker for. Just need to get wifi set up – applied on Monday they reckon I can be online by Saturday. Wo Ai England!!

  17. WoAi says:

    @Swiss – Just saw the clip. Can’t believe he beat Phelps. He must be on drugs. No, just kidding, that’s exactly what I’m talking about. That guy was on cloud nine. THAT’S what the Olympics should be about. Let’s have more please.

  18. T. says:

    [Comment deleted at author's request]

  19. Olympic Fever says:

    One of the commentators in the US also mentioned that Phelps shaved 4 seconds off his best time when he was 15. It’s actually quite common for teenagers at that point to drastically improve their performance. And like Woai said, she didn’t come out of nowhere, she’s been competing and winning on the international stage in recent years.

    I honestly think if Ye Shiwen were American or Australian, no one would’ve questioned her results. But because she doesn’t fit the prototype of a great swimmer, people jump to the conclusion it must be false somehow. Of course there is a possibility she is cheating, just as there is a possibility Phelps or Lochte is also doping. But until there is evidence, I think it’s pretty unprecedented for other swimmers and coaches to publicly smear an athlete like that.

  20. Olympic Fever says:

    @T: Applying your standard (“Ye must be doping cos China has a history of doping”), I assume you accuse each American sprinter who wins gold of doping because Marion Jones (and others) had been caught doping before…right? And even if repeated drug tests had shown them to be clean, you’d still persist in that accusation…right?

  21. T. says:

    Thanks for reading my entire point. But yes, if an American sprinter improves by 5 seconds over their personal best, then yes, its suspicious.

  22. chengdusticksguy says:

    Can we just give Ben Johnson his 1988 gold medal back please?

  23. Bittermelon says:

    So…back to our regular program here while our host tries to install wifi at his parents’ house (which century do they live in anyway?). First congrats to the host country for winning two golds. Second what do you think of the disgraceful behavior (or behaviour, as we are now in England) of the badminton teams? The coach of the Japanese women’s soccer team also told his team not to win. I guess it’s not an Olympics without any controversy.

    In terms of suspicion of doping and domination of a sport and Americans, I give you Lance Armstrong.

  24. T. says:

    I decided I was a bit harsh to Ye. But I still see why its suspicious.

  25. WoAi says:

    @Olympic Fever – Thanks for giving some balance to the debate. You pretty much echo my own thoughts.

    @T – The comment is now deleted but to take on your comment about Ian Thorpe, unlike the American coach, he has no interest in the 2012 results and is in my opinion therefore more impartial. But also as has been confirmed here, 5 seconds is not only possible, but it has been done before with swimmers at that age.

    @Bittermelon – My parents do not use the internet so it’s a bit of a waste to pay 15 pounds a month for internet that is used only during the 2 weeks a year I come home.

    You have an irritating knack of raising topics which I am about to post about (the badminton) so maybe we can delay that debate (I have very strong views here) till the post comes up?

  26. Swiss James says:

    WoAi- did you look into PAYG broadband using a dongle? I swear by it- no line rental, great speed.

  27. Bittermelon says:

    Haha “do not use the internet”. Do they use cell phone? And sorry to be irritating. The Olympics provides endless discussion topics.

  28. Stimpy says:

    @Bittermelon: I am sure that they do not use cell phone. Mobile phones on the other hand….

  29. WoAi says:

    @Swiss James – Thanks for the suggestion. I actually tried that a few years ago but unfortunately at our house, the signal is very weak. Plus, and I know you’re going to love this, the iPad has nowhere to plug in the dongle!

    @Bittermelon – I tried to teach my mum to text a few years ago and gave up. At age 77, it’s not easy.

  30. WoAi says:

    @Chengdusticksguy – That was 24 years ago already? Holy crap!

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