It’s nice to take some time out every once in a while from the Olympic titans flexing their sport. At least, I find that it is. Also, I’m away, so I wrote this yesterday. Today (yesterday), I’m taking a look at the Internet reaction to the foot-stamping efforts of Piers Morgan when the number of Team GB athletes singing their national anthem was a bit too low for his liking. There are some embedded tweets in this post. If you can’t see them, then your browser isn’t working.

Piers Morgan currently presents Piers Morgan Tonight on CNN. He’s a former editor of the News of the World and the Daily Mirror. He dislikes people being rude to him. Clive Anderson took Morgan to task in 1996 while they were both on an episode of Have I Got News For You, saying “the last time I was rude to you, you sent photographers to my doorstep the next day”. Morgan’s reply was “You won’t see them this time.” There have also been highlighted arguments with Ian Hislop and Jeremy Clarkson. Piers Morgan was fired as editor of the Daily Mirror in 2004 when he authorised the front-page printing of faked photos of Iraqi prisoner abuse (not that it doesn’t happen but the photos were clearly faked).

Here’s his reaction to Chris Hoy winning a sixth cycling medal for Great Britain:

They say that you should accentuate the positive. Plenty of people never got that memo but most of them leave whining about details until later in the evening.

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, is a man made up of all the world’s faults coming together in a single implausible entity. But he still managed to keep it nicely simple.

See? A non-backhanded compliment. That’s how people generally cheer. It’s how we’re taught to do it when we’re very young. When people do something good, cheer them on. Tell them that they’re great. Later on, you can let them know that their socks seemed odd, that their face had the strained look of a person on the toilet trying to expel an airliner and that it’d be, like, totally cool y’know if they bothered to sing the school song. It’s one of the most simple things that life teaches us.

Apparently, you’re not really British then.

It has shades of the Fox News view of Gabby Douglas as being unpatriotic by wearing a pink leotard while she won two Olympic gold medals (see Big Sporty Thing part 12). Because, apparently, what makes someone patriotic isn’t competing for their country on the biggest stage that sport offers – it’s whether they wear stars and stripes where people can see them or whether they sing along to the entirety of ‘God Save The Queen’. Especially the oft-ignored verse about crushing the Scots. Chris Hoy is Scottish, you know. He may have views on these things. Scotland’s had a long and complicated relationship with England and the British crown. Or maybe they don’t teach the national anthem in medal-winning cycling school.

Piers Morgan could have stopped there. Internet trolls rarely do, though. Relishing the attention, they tend to keep digging.

It’s not just Hoy, now – 39% of gold-medal winners from the UK need to be taken to task. Those singing classes are going to be very full when August ends. All attendees shall be taught to love the queen, to love the song and, most importantly, to remember that the Boogie Man will be watching them at all times to ensure that they sing the song, regardless of how emotional they’re feeling or how exhausted they are. That’s why 92% of Chinese winning athletes sing their anthem, after all.

One of the things I love about ‘western’ society, imperfect as it is, is the freedom to make certain choices. Choosing whether or not to attend the state parade. Choosing which news source to believe – or, alternatively, to believe none of them. Choosing which god in which to believe – or, alternatively to believe in none of them. Choosing whether or not to sing a particular song. Without being beaten.

The latest salvo from Piers Morgan is to offer £1000 to Great Ormond Street Hospital every time a British gold-medallist sings the national anthem after their medal ceremony. While that might be an altruistic gesture, it also puts Olympic medallists in a position where not singing the anthem takes money from sick children. That’s not altruism. It’s the rich guy pushing someone into doing something that they mightn’t want to do. And that’s not right.

The winning putdown belongs to @mrcolmquinn, back on August 2nd. While there’s a picture being forwarded on the Internet that shows the reply coming from Bradley Wiggins, he wasn’t the source. No less of a winning shot though, regardless of whence it came.

I’m aware that what Internet trolls want is attention so they should be ignored. Unfortunately, giving someone 15 minutes in the spotlight doesn’t apply when they’re already plonked in the middle of the stage. Idiocy should be called. Piers Morgan is an idiot. Or he’s doing a really good impression of one for the sake of attention. That would make him a troll. It’s a troll or an idiot, then.

Enjoy the rest of the Olympics. If you’re a medal winner, cry if you want to. Sing if you want to. If someone criticises your performance, they may not have a point – or they may. If someone criticises you for not singing when you’re apparently supposed to, they’re an idiot.


London’s Big Sporty Thing (part 13)

A frog pole vaulting. No golds, no medals, no glory. He just likes it.

North Korea finally gets the news that they’re naughty, a German swimmer calls for a dictator, pillar box graffiti is on the rise and there are unwanted condoms in the Big Sporty Village. There was also some sport on Wednesday.

Unofficial condoms hit the Olympic Village

The Durex company is in a huff, following the discovery of rival condoms in the Olympic Village. Australian BMX rider Caroline Buchanan caused consternation at Durex headquarters by tweeting a picture of a bucket containing condoms from competing manufacturers Ansell and Pasante. London Olympics organisers have asked athletes not to distribute the non-Durex condoms as Durex is the official supplier of condoms to the Olympic Village. Durex supplied 150,000 condoms for the use of the 10,800 athletes at the Games. So far the supply has been sufficient, though there are four nights remaining in the Olympic Village.

Arrested cycling fan wants “exoneration”

A Parkinson’s sufferer arrested by Surrey Police during the men’s cycling road race is seeking a “letter of exoneration” from the police force. Mark Worsfold claims that police at the race questioned him about his demeanour, focusing on why he appeared not to be enjoying the event. He was handcuffed and taken to Reigate police station. “The man was positioned close to a small group of protesters and based on his manner, his state of dress and his proximity to the course, officers made an arrest to prevent a possible breach of the peace,” said a statement from the Surrey Police.

Worsfold was discovered by police officers to have a number of knives in his possession. After long examination by forensic authorities, these were discovered to be made from rubber. He was released after two hours.

Graffiti and those shiny gold post boxes

Putting graffiti on post boxes repainted gold to celebrate Olympic victory is a growing pastime in the inner cities, with two defaced in the past two days. British rower Kat Copeland’s commemorative post box was defaced yesterday, with nicknames scratched into the surface. A post box in Sheffield, painted gold to commemorate the gold medal by Jessica Ennis in the heptathlon, required some rework when the decoration was embellished with a “Go Jess” message. UK post boxes were first painted red in 1874 to make them more obvious, as people kept walking into them when they were painted a dull shade of bronze green.

Kat Copeland and Sophie Hoskin following their rowing victory. Gold pillar boxes were not on their minds.

Naughty Korea: not angry, just disappointed

The Korean Central News Agency has issued a blunt statement, attacking Brisbane newspaper the mX for referring to North Korea as “Naughty Korea” in a medals table printed in the newspaper last week. According to the agency statement: “The paper behaved so foolish [sic] as to use the London Olympics, that has caught the world interest, for degrading itself … Editors were so incompetent as to tarnish the reputation of the paper.”. It is unclear whether North Korea will unleash its rumoured nuclear arsenal on the Australian daily newspaper.

Continuing its irreverent humour, the mX has also printed a medals table where silver is more important than gold, “for reasons of national [Australian] pride”. Naughty Korea failed to make the top five.

The mX medals table. Probably the greatest free daily newspaper in the world.

Germany needs a dictator

Roland Matthes, a four-time Olympic gold medallist for East Germany, waded into some trouble in the past few days when he claimed that German swimming “needs a dictator(here‘s the original story in German) as a solution to his country’s lack of success in the swimming pool. For the first time in 80 years, Germany has failed to secure a single Olympic medal for swimming.  Matthes is the second German athlete to make public reference to the far-right as desirable in the past fortnight. Nadja Drygalla, a German rower, was sent home due to her connections with far-right organisations in her home town. German news outlets have been highly critical of the country’s performance at the London Games. Die Zelt has highlighted the higher payments by other countries to winning athletes as a problem. German gold medallists gain a €15,000 cash bonus from their national Olympic council. Gold medallists from the United States are given €25,000, while a Malaysian gold medallist would secure €500,000. British athletes are given a thank-you and a commemorative pillar box.

Vangelis: ching ching

Greek composer Vangelis has revealed that every time his theme for ‘Chariots Of Fire’ is played at the London Olympics, he gets a penny. The theme has been played at every medal ceremony since the beginning of the Games, as well as hundreds of times in the staff canteen. While organisation heads are concerned about all staff now working in slow motion, Admiral Lord Sebastian Baron Coe insists that the theme be played over breakfast. Since mid-July, the composer has earned six million pounds in royalties. Boris Johnson has offered him all of Tower Hamlets in lieu of a cash payment. The composer has yet to reply to the offer.

In other news…

David Cameron made sure to be seen at Nicola Adams’ semi-final win in boxing yesterday. He waved at crowds during the fight in the hope that someone would take his picture… 2400 drivers have been issued with fines for driving in Olympic Family-only lanes… Hurdler Dai Greene is in a spot of bother for calling a tweet from Martyn Rooney the “gayest tweet of the day”… The BBC has come up with an explanation as to why they occasionally forget the names of Olympic competitors at the London Games that are not British. They wrote it down but have unfortunately forgotten it. Update to follow.

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.

London’s Big Sporty Thing (part 11)

North island for sheep. South island for hobbits. West island for a big sandpit where medals get stored. Sorry, native peoples, you lose out again.

Funky muffins and dodgy somethings cause two competitors to be eliminated, France is worried about illegal levels of magic being used by British cyclists and there’s another solution from Australia for the NZ problem. It was an interesting Monday.

That’s all, folks
US judoka Nicholas Delpopolo and Italy’s long-distance walker Alex Schwazer have become the latest competitors to be sent home without any supper. Delpopolo tested positive for cannabis following his seventh place in the 73kg judo event over the weekend. According to the judoka, he consumed the substance without his knowledge a few weeks ago in some baked goods which were made by a family member. He followed the brownie consumption with a four hour sleep, during which he dreamed of pixies battling goblins in a mystical adventure set in a displaced Neptune of an adjoining universe. Mr Delpopolo stated that the first suspicion he had that there might have been something unusual in the brownies was when his drug test revealed that there was something unusual in his bloodstream. He finished seventh in the competition rankings. A hastily-scribbled statement from the International Olympic Committee pointed out that “what works for Michael Phelps does not work for everyone”.

Alex Schwazer, Italy’s most celebrated walker, has been removed from the London Olympics after failing a pre-Games drug test in his home country. While the banned substance has not been revealed, the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) announced yesterday that Schwazer has ben sent back to Italy. The athlete won a gold medal for walking at the 2008 Beijing Games, setting a new 50km walk world record in the process. He was expected to defend his title next weekend. He had been entered for last Saturday’s 20km walk but withdrew, citing a cold. Schwazer, who works as a police officer, had previously condemned doping, before making the discovery that it might aid his performance. Walking is a highly technical sport and is rated by athletics experts as one of the most demanding events in Olympic Games competition. Competitors are required “to maintain contact with the ground and straighten their front knee when the foot makes contact with the ground, keeping it straightened until the knee passes under the body”.  Despite the high regard in which walking is held by humans, it has not always been free from controversy. Scandal swept through the 1906 Intercalated Games in Athens following the 1500m walk event, when the first two finishers were deemed to have cheated by running. The race was awarded to US athlete George Bonhag, despite spectators criticising his walking style, which involved skipping to the finish line.

But wait, there’s more!
Algerian middle-distance runner Taoufik Makhloufi has won an appeal against his exclusion from today’s 1500m final. After winning his semi-final, Makhloufi was forced to compete in the 800m race as his team failed to withdraw him from the shorter distance. He jogged for the first 300 metres before dropping out. An IAAF statement read: “The referee considered that he had not provided a bona fide effort and decided to exclude him from participation in all further events in the competition”, which has been translated by Babelfish translators as “forgot to say ‘ow’”. Algerian sports authorities protested that a knee injury forced Makhloufi to drop out of the event. According to the IAAF, he needed to supply “a note from a doctor, saying, like, that he was totally sick” to regain his place in today’s final.  Having supplied the required documentation as well as a reality check from his mother, he will be allowed to compete.

Coates: “When I said 46, I meant 30. I think.” Lundy says all is well.
John Coates, president of Australia’s Olympic Committee, has downgraded his expected Olympic medals haul for Australia from his previously-declared estimate of 46 to a new expectation of between 30 and 36. He criticised the lack of funding for sport in Australis before explaining that his initial expectations have not been met by London 2012 athletes. Federal Sports Minister, Kate Lundy, strongly disagreed with Coates’ view of the drop in gold medals for Australia since Beijing, saying: “They’re on the podium. We’re still up there with the best of the best.” In other news, Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia. Chocolate rations will be increased this week from 45 grammes per person to 30 grammes per person, demonstrating the continued success of the economy. New Zealand has been scientifically demonstrated to be a myth. Sea monsters are roaming the streets at night and therefore the benevolent government has imposed a curfew for the safety of all citizens. Prepare yourself for your new, happy life.

Welcome to Aus Zealand, mate!
The Sydney Daily Telegraph has offered a solution to Australia’s disappointing performance in the medals table: combine Australia with New Zealand. The smaller country of New Zealand has so far won three gold medals, while Australia has won only two. Last night, Australia was placed 19th in the medals table, with New Zealand four places higher. A third gold medal for Australia would push the country to 12th, just below North Korea. The success of the proposal is now in doubt as New Zealanders expressed some dismay following Tom Slingsby’s victory yesterday in the men’s laser swimming for destroying a currently popular national joke – “New Zealand has just won gold, Australia has just one gold”. The proposed new territory of Aus Zealand still lies behind Kazakhstan in the medals table but manages a top-ten placing which has so far been achieved only by New Zealand on its own.

US news outlets are unlikely to adopt the model by claiming Canada’s medals as American, as the move would still result in China topping the table at present. Even adding Mexico would unfortunately still yield the same result.

Aus Zealand’s placing in the medal table. Ninth. There will be fireworks.

Magic Wheelz and Trickery
Team France is concerned about Team GB’s cycling success, with team director Isabelle Gautheron asking L’Equipe if Britain has “found a new training process based on certain energy pathways.” So far, Great Britain has won nine medals at the London Olympics, including six golds. France has secured three silver medals. “We know that they work with McLaren,” she added and speculated that British scientists may somehow have invented a better wheel. Talk of witchcraft has taken over at the breakfast table of French cyclists, with competitors reportedly looking for sacred ley lines near Stratford, on which they can have nightly relations with their bicycles to improve performance. French officials have been sent to search the surroundings of the Big Wheelz Arena every evening to check for illegal wizardry. Ms Gauthron has also proposed to French track cycling authorities that they abandon their traditional square-shaped wheels and adopt round wheels for competitive cycling in the future.  “The speed gain is difficult to explain but I think it might be an advantage,” she said. French square wheel manufacturers and national unions are expected to object.

In other news…
Sprint phenomenon Usain Bolt has requested a trial with premiership side Manchester United. It was reported on page 1 of The Sun but might still be true… American rower Henrik Rummel had a trouser malfunction during the medal ceremony for the coxless four, when he was apparently really pleased to see his bronze medal. Fourth-placed Greece may choose to object on grounds that the team was no longer coxless… Michael Phelps has been awarded a special trophy for winning 22 medals at the Olympic Games, when he’d probably have preferred a nice set of golf clubs… Soft rock supremo and militant vegetarian Morrissey has revealed that he no longer likes the Olympics as he finds them quite nationalistic. Irony detectors have been exploding around his Rome house all morning.

London’s Big Sporty Thing (part 10)

Usain Bolt (right) and former partner Wenlock (left). The two have been engaged in a bitter custody battle over their child (pictured) for three years.

Ben Ainslee verbally slaps Gary Lineker, obvious joke about Usain Bolt and there’s a nut on the loose with a beer bottle. Who thought that they hold the men’s 100m final on Sunday as there’s nothing else of interest…

Jamaica, we have a bobsleigh team
Celebrated sprinter Usain Bolt last night announced his defection from athletics to the winter sport of bobsleighing. Having been approached by an implausibly fat white man minutes after his 9.63 gold medal-winning performance in the 100m sprint yesterday evening, Bolt has recruited fellow Jamaican sprinters Asafa Powell and Yohan Blake to his proposed team. The fast-talking fat man won Bolt over with a ten second elevator pitch of a new idea: “World-class sprinters… in the bobsleigh!” Bolt hopes to add Nesta Carter to the team as soon as Carter finishes his degree course at Harvard Law School. Jamaica has a long tradition in the winter sport of bobsleigh, having first competed at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. Former Jamaican competitor Lascelles Brown, who now competes for Canada, has won two Olympic medals for the sport. Although Jamaica won a gold medal at the 2000 World Push Championships in Monaco (youtube link), in recent years, the team has been lacking success. Bolt is adamant that the presence of four world-class sprinters on the team will result in considerable success at Sochi in 2014. Film studios worldwide are competing for the movie rights, in the hope that the story will be appealing.

Following Bolt’s victory, newspaper editors across the planet were deluged by requests last night from journalists who wanted to use puns related to ‘Bolt’, ‘lightning’, ‘streak’, ‘strike’, ‘flash’, ‘thunder’and ‘zoom’. While many of these requests were granted, subeditors altered many pages that contained ‘streak’ and ‘flash’ due to considerations for the well-being of the aged and the infirm.

One bottle of beer on the track, one bottle of beer…
A spectator has arrested by London’s Metropolitan Police for throwing a bottle on to the track just before yesterday’s 100m sprint final. Unfortunately for the offender, he was sitting next to world judo champion Edith Bosch when he chose to throw the missile. She hit him on his back with her hand, preventing him from throwing himself after the bottle. The bottle landed behind the sprinters and there was no disruption to the event. It is not known how a spectator managed to smuggle a glass bottle into the stadium. Usain Bolt has expressed some dismay at dissatisfied audience members being allowed to bring bottles while he was blocked from entering the Olympic Stadium wearing a tie and carrying his skipping rope. Speculation is mounting that the bottle-thrower was defrocked priest and infamous troublemaker Neil Horan, as he has very short arms.

Dear crazy suicide bombers…
Terrorists across western Europe expressed excitement yesterday that uniforms given to Big Sporty Thing volunteers are popping up on auction sites. As the first batch of volunteers finished their week’s duties, listings for watches, footwear and official uniforms began appearing on Internet auction sites. Officially known as ‘Gamesmakers’, volunteers are allowed to keep the uniforms, printed guides, nuclear launch codes and bright-red Swatches with which they were issued at the beginning of the Games.  Last week, Gamesmakers were asked to bring a spare shirt to work so that they could let it rest on an empty seat.

Mad, bad and dangerous to know
Canadian rider Tiffany Considerably-Toffish expressed confusion yesterday when she was blocked from entering the 3000m steeplechase on her horse Victor. Officials were surprised when the horse cantered into the Olympic Stadium, ridden by Ms Considerably-Toffish, as all equestrian events are being held at Greenwich Park on the south side of the Thames. She mounted a small press conference outside the stadium entrance after dismounting Victor, during which she “curse[d] Sebastian Coe to hell for wasting [her] valuable time”. Ms Considerably-Toffish was later seen taking her horse into Stratford tube station, asking for directions to the water polo venue. Victor was unavailable for comment. The race was won by Ezekiel Kemboi of Kenya, without the use of a horse.

Ohuruogu pestered by a candy man
Athletes biting their medals finally bore, um, fruit, last night as Britain’s Christine Ohuruogu discovered that her 400m silver medal was just a silver wrapper over a chocolate disc. Rushing to the podium to congratulate her, Willy Wonka of Cadbury’s announced that her “real prize” will be a trip to a day-long tour of Cadbury’s chocolate factories throughout the UK. Ms Ohuruogu looked less than amused until she was also presented with a silver medal. Andy Murray, triumphant winner of the men’s singles tournament held at Wimbledon (but not ‘Wimbledon’) instantly bit into his medal to see if he would also find a golden ticket or chocolate disc. His unsuccessful attempt gained him a trip to the dentist tomorrow. Hundreds of placed athletes have been biting their medals all week at the prompting of photo-journalists. There are four Cadbury’s-sponsored trips remaining to deserving children.

Greatest UK TV moment ever:
Gary Lineker to gold-medal sailor Ben Ainslie last night on BBC1: “Will you get back in the boat for Rio in 2016?”
Ben Ainslie to Gary Lineker: “Will you still be hosting Match of the Day in 2016?”
Unfortunately, it seems that Gary Lineker couldn’t hear what the just-medalled Ben Ainslie was saying. As yet, there are no youtube videos of the exchange.

London’s Big Sporty Thing (part 9)

New Zealand is populated by hobbits and sheep. Everyone knows that.

Australia is suffering from ego problems, it’s raining in London and Paul McCartney just won’t stop singing. Also, another mention of Jessica Ennis as the BBC has stopped talking about her.

There are NINE countries, just NINE
Faced with the issue of admitting that New Zealand was higher on the medals table than their own country, Australian TV’s Channel 9 took a novel solution to ignoring the problem: they displayed the medals table as a Top 9 instead of a Top 10. Australia, which hosted the Big Ring Sports twelve years ago, was in nineteenth place in the table, while New Zealand was lying tenth. The channel later admitted that the success of New Zealanders was likely to embarrass Australians and that it was easier to ignore the problem by pretending that New Zealand didn’t exist. The two countries competed as s single team until 1920. The small sheep-infested country of New Zealand has so far won three gold medals, while Australia, somewhat larger and mainly populated by sand monsters, has a single victory. The Australian broadcaster joins a recent tradition of re-jigging the medals table for public relations purposes. In 2008, US Olympic broadcaster NBC changed their method of displaying the table from most gold medals to most medals in total so that the United States could be better than China.

Safety pins in short supply
London ran out of safety pins last night as athletes secured their numbers with extra pins to take account of the London weather. A shortage of stainless steel has resulted in competitors having to use iron pins, which rust and quickly disintegrate in the six-hourly hours of rain, requiring constant replacement. A small number of 400-metre athletes were seen frantically licking the back of their track numbers so that they would stay attached throughout the 50-second duration of their race. Suggestions that the British Olympic Council might consider supplying a pot of glue were met with derision by Supreme Leader Sebastian Coe. “They’re top Olympic athletes, not competitors at the Sudbury Sack And Spoon,” he said. “Give them a pot of glue and some of them will just spend the evening eating it or sniffing it.” Despite Lord Coe’s comments, glue is not a substance prohibited by doping authorities.

Cycling fan sings ‘Hey Jude’ (repeatedly)
Paul McCartney, aged 70 and one quarter, from Liverpool, yesterday led the velodrome crowd in four hundred choruses of his very well-known song, ‘Hey Jude’. Following the Team GB victory in the team pursuit event, the jubilant crowd began singing the hit parade favourite of yesteryear without knowing that the song’s creator was in the crowd. Fab Macca grabbed the announcer’s microphone and sang the song repeatedly for the next half hour. “It’s an easy song to sing,” said one spectator later, when asked about the impromptu concert by McCartney. “And it works well with, you know, ‘na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-gee-bee’. We tried to sing the theme from Batman but ‘na-na-na-na -na-na -na-na -na-na -na-na -na-na -na-na -gee-bee’ was just too much for people to remember.” Asked if the popularity of his song was due to it being easy to sing, McCartney retorted: “It’s not. Only I may sing it.” Small children have been convinced for many years that singing ‘Na’ in front of the mirror seven times will make Paul McCartney appear. The Team GB uniforms for the Olympics were designed by McCartney’s daughter Stella, who, despite that, is still well-regarded as a fashion designer.

You wait ages for one bus and then three come along…
Jessica Ennis deservedly won the heptathlon event for Great Britain, continuing the spectacular run of form that began on Friday. No, no smart comments from me, she thoroughly deserved it. Team GB followed her gold medal with victories by Greg Rutherford in the long jump and Mo Farah in the 10,000 metres. Even the pounding music from the Olympic DJ (not a medal event) failed to keep 80,000 people from falling asleep for fifteen minutes during the 10,000m race, though a fall by Ugandan athlete Moses Kipsiro caused everyone to wake up at once. Unfortunately, BBC commentators are now reduced to discussing the composition of the bouquets that they hand to winning athletes. They each have four kinds of roses and nice-smelling things to make them smell like the parts of England that aren’t London.

Michael Phelps’ record falls
Michael Phelps’ Olympic record of most Olympic medals won by a single athlete was dramatically bested last night by a 25-year-old younger American swimmer named Michael Phelps. Mere days after Michael Phelps (27) had become the most successful athlete in the history of the Olympic Games, with a total of 21 medals, young upstart Phelps rocked the world of swimming by winning more medals (22) than his American rival. Following his 21st medal, commentators had speculated that it was a record that would never be beaten. Nice Michael Phelps now occupies eighth place on the Olympic medal table, with naughty Michael Phelps in seventh. Announcing his retirement from the sport last night, twelve hours later Phelps described life without swimming as “weird”. Fellow American Ryan Lochte has been designated the next Michael Phelps but will not be presented with keys to the Phelpscave and Phelpsmobile until next week. Mr Lochte confessed on Friday that he peed in the Olympic pool.

In other news…
Kim Collins, sprinter for St Kitts  and Nevis was sent home by his national Olympic association yesterday for spending the night with his wife instead of partying down in the Olympic Village… bored Olympic viewer David Mitchell (probably not the comedian) is sending fourth-place medals to people he deems worthy... Police in the UK are concerned with the ‘Bradley Wiggins effect‘, as UK cyclists have resumed using their bikes in public…

London’s Big Sporty Thing (part 8)

Usain Bolt projected on to the UK Houses of Parliament at the opening of the London Sporty Games. He’s faster than you are. Under ten seconds and he’s already putting his shoes back on.

Jessica Ennis is mentioned 400 times an hour on the BBC throughout Friday’s track and field events, funding Olympic success the Bam Bam Thank You Ma’am way and the United States is hogging the top of the medals table. Despite best efforts, there were still some Sporty Ring Thing newsbits on Friday.

The BBC turned over its entire morning output yesterday jessica ennis to the talented jessica ennis young heptathlon competitor, Jessica Ennis, who was competing in the first four events jessica ennis of the discipline. Breaking the British record for the 100m hurdles jessica ennis in a time of 12.54 seconds, she also broke the world record for the 100m jessica ennis hurdles as part of the heptathlon. Her performance would have won the gold medal jessica ennis in the 100m hurdles event at the 2000 Sydney Games. She also achieved a new personal best in the 200m sprint. She completed the first day’s events jessica ennis at the top of the heptathlon leader table with a lead of 184 points over her nearest competitor, in clear sight of jessica ennis a gold medal (and the rest of the stadium). Defending the decision to jessia ennis ignore other sports in favour of informing viewers jessica ennis of what Ms Ennis was having for her lunch, the BBC’s sports editor for jessica ennis Stratford said: “Jessica Ennis contains 100% more Jessica Ennis than other non-Jessica Ennis athletes. We need more Jessica, more Ennis and less moaning so tomorrow’s tennis final will be replaced with a BBC-JE special on how to tie your shoelaces for the heptathlon 800 metres.” Fears are mounting in BBC HQ that, should Ms Ennis win the gold medal, the entire British Broadcasting Corporation will have to find something else to talk about for the next seven days. Denise Lewis, winner of the event at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, is also worried that she will find herself out of a regular and reliable gig.

Logan ‘Bam! Bam!’ Campbell, a taekwondo (68kg division) competitor for New Zealand this week, took an unusual approach to funding his dream of Olympic gold when he started a 14-room Auckland brothel in 2009. Returning from the Beijing Olympics with large debts, he decided that he needed $200,000 to reach London 2012. In an interview with Yahoo! News, he said: “I needed to make some money if I wanted to go to the next one in London, so bam!” While prostitution is legal in New Zealand, the country’s Olympic committee threatened Campbell with legal action if he continued to fund his participation in sport by taking a monthly percentage of paid-for-sex. The Olympic committee also found money to fund the country’s taekwondo programme for the first time. According to Logan Campbell in a Forbes interview, “As soon as I was in the media and stuff – we had never had funding, ever, EVER in the history of taekwondo, and all of a sudden it was, like, bam! There was this funding so it was sweet.” Mr Campbell is 26 years of age.  A spokesperson for the New Zealand Olympic Committee was unable to confirm rumours that the taekwondo star will attend the medal ceremony wearing a fluffy knee-length coat and carrying a cane if he wins a medal.

Cyclists were repeatedly frustrated in the keieienienenen (youtube link – Chris Boardman explains what the keirin is and how it works) event when their progress was repeatedly blocked by a little man on a motor-powered bike. As the competitors began the rolling sprint event, the unidentified man, dressed entirely in black, pushed his bike in front of the competitors and remained there for over two laps. Despite efforts to keep him away from the track, he managed to jump ahead of the cyclists in every heat, keeping the competitors to a constant speed until they were able to eventually sprint past him. Even with a crack squad of SAS snipers assigned to guard the final, he managed to gain access to the velodrome and again drove his bike around the track for over two laps before being passed by the eager cyclists. Britain’s Victoria Pendleton took the gold.

Three-time world hammer champion Ivan Tsikhan (Belarus) withdrew from this year’s Olympics before competition started yesterday when his 2004 Athens blood sample was re-tested and found to be overrun with prohibited substances. An outraged official commented to the press that “When competitors in the hammer start taking drugs, when these mysteriously giant men start feeling the need to use banned substances, we know we have a problem”.

Westfield Shopping Centre, built as the commercial gateway to the Olympic Park, was closed yesterday in an attempt to get athletics fans to travel into central London to stock up on commemorative tea towels and shot glasses. Some confused ticketholders spent the morning standing outside in the middle of crowds of black-clad teenagers who had nowhere else to go. First Lord of the Remaining Treasury, David Cameron, said: “There is a lot going on and the tube is there for people to use”. The Central line was closed due to technical failures until tube workers got it working again, following Mr Cameron’s declaration.

The United States lay on top of the medal table last night, despite protests from China that it was still their turn. Objections from Beijing were issued yesterday that the Americans were getting up very early, putting a towel on the table and then going back to bed for a few hours.  The United States has denied the allegations. Michael Phelps was eleventh in the table, just ahead of South Africa.

In shorter news… Jamaican sprinter Asafa Powell has complained to the IOC for being woken from sleep in order to give a blood sample. Having taken blood from Powell three times in five days, the IOC may be cloning him… Japan beat Brazil 2-0 to reach the women’s soccer semi-finals. The second scorer for Japan is named Ohno, which is what the Brazilian fans were shouting as she struck for the net… Cuba’s Leuris Pupo gave hope to all chubby men in their 30s that they too can win gold when he took a surprising victory in the 25m rapid fire pistol competition yesterday… Australian rower Josh Booth has been ordered to say to sorry to a Windsor shop owner and to pay £1400 for damages he caused while drunk on Wednesday after his team finished last in the eights. The AOC may also organise a public booting when he gets back to Oz... NBC got in some bother when a female breast may have become briefly visible during a water polo match they were broadcasting live. Cable subscriptions throughout the US have since increased by 500%.

Stuck for dinner party conversation? With this musical guide to Olympic history from those good folks at Horrible Histories, you can have knowledge of an entirely topical line of conversation. You may recognise the tune.

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