Watching the Olympics. A lot.

london-2012-olympic-cauldron-thomas-heatherwick_10Okay, so I was wrong.  When I first thought about the Olympics, I imagined I’d catch some gymnastics, some tennis, and some diving.  And that’s it.  Well, that was before I discovered that not only is CTV streaming events live over the internet – they have about 20 live feeds going.  Simultaneously.  Which has kind of played havoc with my life, but just after the midway point, what a fantastic Games so far.  Here are some bits and bobs from the first 9 days:

  • Opening Ceremony: Rowan Atkinson popping up in “Chariots of Fire” was bloody fantastic.  But the design of the Olympic cauldron (and choosing young athletes to light it instead of some old codger), with individual petals representing each country, to be lit in a spiral fire that eventually  rose to one glorious flame, was mind-blowing.  Hands down, the most creative, innovative, and beautiful cauldron I’ve seen yet.
  • Tennis: I was crushed yesterday when Federer lost to Murray – in straight sets.  But that’s what can happen in less than two hours, and Murray was playing extraordinary tennis.  It’s also fair, in a way, to split the hardware – Fed gets Wimby, and Murray gets gold.  You can’t have everything.  And good on Serena Williams.  She’s not always, well, the nicest tennis player on the planet.  But on Saturday, she more or less annihilated Sharapova, and she deserved the golden Slam.
  • Coverage: CTV currently runs the monopoly in Canada, and I really hate some of the commentators/hosts (not a fan of Brian Williams – the Canadian one).  Half of them seem inexperienced, and the other half just won’t shut up.  But at least CTV gives us multiple channels, TV and internet, and makes it free.  100%, no conditions applied, free. However, I’ll be glad when the Olympics go back to CBC for 2014 and 2016 – experienced, down-to-earth, classy coverage.
  • Uhhhh: Not naming any names, but there are some really, really random sports in the Olympics.  Or not, like men’s synchronized swimming.  And I’m sorry, but golf is not an Olympic sport.  That it’s going to appear in Rio boggles the mind.
  • Badminton mini-scandal: Okay, if you want athletes to give their all every single time, then make it an elimination competition, and not a round robin.  Strategy is part and parcel of sports.  Did anyone come down hard on swimming medalists who only placed second or third in their heats?  No.  So don’t screw over badminton players because they’re playing, you know, a game.
  • Gymnastics: I found myself less interested in gymnastics this time round than in previous years.  It seems more…clinical?  Sterile than I remembered?  But good on golden Gabby Douglas and Canadian trampoliner Rosie MacLellan, anyway.
  • Men’s 100m Final: Yeah, it’s all about Usain Bolt.  But I felt really, really bad for Asafa Powell.  Bolt takes the lap and crows with Yohan Blake, his friend, countryman, and silver medallist.  Powell, the third Jamaican in the final, is left limping after he pulled up short with an injury.  Brutal.

And there’s still more to come!  Adam van Koeverdan kayaks for gold, and Canada makes the first women’s soccer semi-final ever. We’ll probably lose tomorrow to the US, but who cares?  It’s the Olympics!

Have you been watching the Olympics?  What are your impressions so far?

– Jean AAR

7 thoughts on “Watching the Olympics. A lot.

  1. lynette

    I am so pleased you are enjoying the Olympics.
    Here in the UK we have 24 extra HD channels courtesy of the BBC (the Olympic Broadcaster) so we can see every heat and match as it happens.
    This past weekend was amazing for Team GB with 8 Gold Medals and numerous silver and bronze. Wow, 3rd in the medal table after China and the US.
    Of course, I am so pleased that Andy Murray beat Roger Federer. What a gentleman Federer is, though.
    Bolt came through after the pundits were questioning his fitness. Yeah, right. Good publicity though.
    Kudos to Michael Phelps.
    Roll on the next week.

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  2. lynette

    PS – forgot to say. did you know that each country will be given the ‘petal’ from the Olympic flame that was paraded with their team at the opening ceremony.
    Hope they cool them down first!

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  3. Victoria S

    I have been watching more than I thought I would also. Jean, the American commentators/hosts are just as annoying as the CTV ones. Someone needs to tell these people that they don’t need to filling the airways with their thoughts every second

    That Badminton thing, Badminton, controversy…really?

    I always watch Gymnastics, but calling it “women’s” gymnastics is a misnomer. They should call it what it is. “Little Girls Gymnastics” and get on with it. I loved seeing Gabby win the All-around, but at the same time, it just about broke my heart when the little Russian girl who came in second broke down. You could tell she was heart broken, but second my goodness, is that impressive! Let’s face it, any place you make in an Olympic competition is wonderful, and sometimes the hype of medal position overshadows this fact.

    The opening ceremonies I didn’t understand at all, and finally turned them off,so I never saw the Olympic Cauldron get lit. Sorry I missed that. I do think that Olympic Cauldron itself is cool, and that fact that each country is going to get one of the petals inscribed for their country, is pretty awesome.

    One thing I do that is kinda neat, I watch BBC America to get their comments on the Olympics, so I have something other than a strictly American perspective. And Queen Elizabeth and James Bond…priceless. Good work UK!

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  4. LeeB.

    I’ve watched parts of the men’s and women’s bicycle road races, the women’s trampoline last Saturday (gosh they go SOOOOOO high on those things) and did see the last two sets of Murray’s win over Federer. I know it was disappointing for Roger to lose, but it’s not like he doesn’t have trophies for all his Grand Slam wins, plus a gold medal for doubles from Beijing.

    I am following all the sports online to see the results. And good on Canada for almost beating the USA women in football/soccer. So glad I didn’t see that live (was working). Would have been screaming at the tv.

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  5. Jean Wan

    @Lynette – GB has done fantastically well – congratulations!

    @LeeB – That soccer game was the pinnacle of Canadian soccer, men’s or women’s, and Christine Sinclair is now a national hero. Both teams played extraordinarily well, but I maintain that Canada would have won if a) our defense was stronger and b) the referee wasn’t RIDICULOUSLY partial. The first one if fair and square – it’s something Canada can work on, and might have still cost us the game. But the second – who the hell calls a foul on the keeper? No one. Ever. The country is collectively reeling, in awe, shock, elation, and rage.

    Yeah. Emotions are running a little high today up north.

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  6. LeeB.

    Jean: I didn’t even know there was a penalty for holding the ball too long. Haven’t watched the game so I can’t say if the ref was partial or not but I did read a few comments on the Daily Mail website from Americans hoping the ref would be around in the USA’s next game. Oh dear!

    But good luck to Canada in the bronze medal game against France.

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  7. Jean Wan

    LeeB: Yeah. No one else did either. In all fairness to the ref, the rule exists. In all fairness to everyone else, everyone – including the US coach – thinks it was a harsh call, and completely out of the blue. Plus, apparently the ref is supposed to give a warning or something before making such a call, but there my details are a little hazy. And what does the referee do when questioned about it? She smiles, and doesn’t say a thing.

    Ah well. We still love them.

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