London’s Big Sporty Thing (part 12)

Cycling hamsters. If hamsters were people, this would totally be an Olympic sport.

Australia breathes a sigh of relief, the wah-wah about magic cycling wheels carries on, Ireland gets annoyed at the Daily Telegraph and Fox News just can’t help themselves. Tuesday’s Big Sporty Thing was an Olympic day like any other: people mostly getting annoyed at other people.

Australians happy because they’re better than New Zealand

Australians found cause for celebration last night, as their country took a jump up the medals table. Two gold medals (Anna Meares in cycling and Sally Pearson in the 100m hurdles) propelled the continental landmass into eleventh place in the table. Fears that Australia would move to annex New Zealand appear to have disappeared since the larger country eclipsed its smaller neighbour. New Zealand remains 17th in the medals table. According to Australian commentators: “It doesn’t matter if we beat the Yanks or the fricking Chinese. Or even the Poms. But if we don’t beat the bloody Kiwis, then we’re a total failure as a country. The New Zealand Prime Minister is expected to send a telegram to his Australian counterpart later today, congratulating her for not leading a total failure of a country.

The Sydney Telegraph has given Australian coaches the credit for being behind at least 14 gold medals not won by Australia. According to the opinion piece, posted yesterday, “Australian coaches are giving Australians black eyes all over London.” Meanwhile, Australian Federal Sport Minister Kate Lundy is preparing to make good on a bet with UK Sport Minister Hugh Robertson. Ms Lundy bet Mr Robertson at a meeting in Melbourne earlier this year that Australia would win more gold medals than Great Britain during London2012. Ms Lundy will row up the Eton Dorney course, wearing a Team GB uniform. Tomato sellers are preparing for a bumper week of sales.If Mr Robertson had lost the bet, his penalty would have been to dribble a hockey ball around Australia House in central London, while wearing a Kookaburras hockey uniform.

Australia plays the United States in the men’s basketball quarter-finals this evening at the Not The O2 Arena. Chances of an Australian medal may be measured with an electron microscope.

The wheels on the suspicion bus go round and round…

French cycling authorities continue to believe that Team GB has been using magical powers to gain success in the cycling velodrome. Adding to her earlier ponderings on whether British cyclists have “found a new training process based on certain energy pathways” (see previous Big Sporty Thing updates), French team director Isabelle Gautheron yesterday speculated that winning cyclists may have “put a mechanism or a sort of gear inside [the wheels]”. It appears that the confusion among the French may have sprouted from an interview which L’Equipe conducted with British Cycling performance director David Brailsford. When asked by French reporters about the secret of British cycling success, Brailsford told the magazine that the British had adopted round wheels as a method of winning (youtube video, 47 seconds). “Specially round”, he added. The following day, L’Equipe ran this as a headline.

David Hoy, father of six-time gold-medallist Chris Hoy, took a simple approach to the controversy when asked for his opinion: “You’ve got to upset someone. It might as well be the French.” Mr Hoy’s views on the sixteenth century annexation of Calais by France have not been made public.

Speaking of ‘special’, here’s Fox News.

Fox Sports reporters came up with a splendid play on words for their Olympic News webpage when Hamid Soryan took a gold medal for Iran in Greco-Roman wrestling. “It’s In The Baghdad” was emblazoned across their Olympic Wrestling page. Unfortunately for the headline writers, Baghdad is the capital of Iraq rather than Iran. Mr Soryan is from Iran and competed for Iran in Olympic wrestling. He is unlikely to defect to Iraq in a time-frame that would suit Fox News.

Note to Fox Sports: The capital of Iran is Tehran. The capital of Iraq is Baghdad. As your reporters have spent the past ten years in Iraq, you should know that.

Buoyant after a win by Gabby Douglas for the United States in gymnastics, Alisyn Camerota (host of ‘America Live’ – yes, I’ve spelled her name correctly) took some time out to question her patriotism for wearing a pink leotard during competition. Her guest, David Webb (founder of political group Tea Party 365) said that the colours worn exemplify a “slight anti-American feeling”. Webb waved a miniature American flag while criticising the grey uniforms worn by United States athletes during the medal ceremonies. Ms Douglas spent much of last week defending the way she styles her hair while competing. While she uses clips and a ponytail holder to keep her hair in place during competition, thousands of critics on twitter declared that she should wear her hair in the gymnastics-traditional bun. Aged 16, Ms Douglas became the first US gymnast in Olympics history to win individual and team gold medals.

Here’s the Fox News discussion (or click here). It’s a few minutes well spent. You can choose yourself whether to laugh or cry.

When athletes go missing…

Seven members of the Cameroonian Olympic squad have “disappeared from the Olympic Village” since last weekend. Five boxers, a swimmer and a footballer have gone missing. It is unclear whether French cycling authorities will cite this as another example of the magical powers pervading the Olympic Games.  It is clear that the Daily Mail will cite this as another example of foreigners going missing in the UK. All athletes have travel visas allowing them to stay in the UK until November.

Irish annoyed at the Daily Telegraph

Thirty million Irish people exploded on twitter this morning, following an article in the London-based Daily Telegraph which depicted Irish boxer Katie Taylor as British. Irish commentators were at some pains to point out that the country has been independent of the United Kingdom (which competes at the Olympics as ‘Great Britain’) for the past ninety years. The Telegraph, which is generally extremely clear on the original nationality of everyone mentioned in the broadsheet newspaper, later apologised for the article. It is expected to be the main topic of conversation across Ireland for another week. The Daily Telegraph editorial team is currently in a bloody debate as to whether 10,000m gold medallist Mo Farah is British.

The Daily Telegraph. Losing many years of goodwill built up with Irish readers.

Update due to my not writing anything until after lunchtime: Katie Taylor won her semi-final bout against Mavzuna Chorieva of Tajikistan. Audience members at the bout repeatedly sang ‘The Fields of Athenry’, an Irish folk ballad written in the 1970s about an Irish peasant who stole corn belonging to an English landlord. Fifteen Telegraph journalists have been assigned to examine the significance of corn in the Irish mythos.

In other news…

A postbox painted gold to celebrate Jessica Ennis’ victory in the heptathlon has been “defaced”… The British Olympic Council has announced details of a victory parade for Olympic and Paralympic athletes in September. Organisers were careful to wait until some gold medals had been won before announcing the parade…

David O’Sullivan kindly sent me a link to this Olympic Punning video. Most of them are painful. That’s kids these days, with their sugar. As Dave said, number 18 is probably the best.

Update: @froodie has informed me that Olympic Punning Video girl is Hannah Hart of ‘My Drunk Kitchen‘. It’s worth a look as it involves drinking and kitchens.