September 13, 2016
There’s the Olympics which get attention and Olympians who get the glory.
Then there’s the Paralympics which get less attention and Paralympians who are sometimes seen as lesser athletes than able-bodied ones.
*Robert Fulghum puts it better than I could:
The competitors at the Paralympics are people with no legs or arms who swim and row and cycle and run and jump. People who are blind and deaf and run races. People with Down Syndrome compete. There’s the guy who had no arms who won silver in archery, for god’s sake, and many of the participants have been torn apart in military combat and came back to compete with what was left of their bodies. . .
The mantra of our times is that “we gotta have hope,” but the competitors at the Paralympics live hope. Hope is not an abstract ideal for them – it’s a reality created by courage and pain and determination and . . .
I am in awe of the determination, focus, hard work and sacrifice it takes to get to the top in any sport. Olympians or Paralympians – they’re all champions in my eyes.
* I encourage you to click on the link to read Fulghum’s post in full.
August 14, 2012
Valerie Adams has been awarded the shot put gold medal after Nadzeya Ostapchuk, who was initially awarded first place, failed a drugs test.
A win is a win and a gold is a gold. Adams was obviously disappointed by her second placing and it is wonderful that she has now successfully defended the first place she got in Beijing.
But it is unfortunate that this gold comes without the extra excitement and thrill which she would have experienced at the awards ceremony had she been declared the winner on the day.
And only Ostapchuk can explain why she risked drugs when the chances of being found out were so high.
New Zealand now finishes 15th on the medal table with six gold, two silver and five bronze.
August 8, 2012
Manawatu cyclist Simon van Velthooven won a cycling bronze medal today.
That’s New Zealand’s 99th medal and now we’re waiting for Nick Willis to run the 1500.
He won a silver medal in Beijing and there’s a lot of talk of him bettering that today.
Do such expectations weigh heavily on athletes, do they help to inspire them or do they ignore them and concentrate on the race in the knowledge they’ve trained and prepared to the best of their ability?
Willis came across as the ideal flag bearer at the opening ceremony, managing the difficult combination of both pride and modesty.
Now we wait in the knowledge he’ll do his best and dare we hope hope that he might do better?
UPDATE: No medal for Willis. In the post race interview he is obviously disappointed but still gracious.
August 6, 2012
While browsing in the excellent Mary Ryan’s bookshop in Noosa last week I was amused to see three books by Lloyd Jones on the shelves devoted to Australian fiction.
When I mentioned this to the man serving me he said they didn’t have a section for New Zealand books and he thought Lloyd Jones was better with the Australian authors than in general fiction.
A conversation on the merits of our tendency to borrow the best from each other followed and how we were all one when it suits. We concluded that being close enough for some blurring of national boundaries was usually a good thing.
Often it is New Zealand which seeks to bask in Australia’s glory, but this week Australia is finding itself wanting to share some of ours.
This photo, borrowed from Facebook (thanks Andy) has Aus Zealand in ninth place in the medal tally in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph.
On the official medal table, we’re 14th and Australia is 24th.
However, when it comes to medals per capita, Stats NZ has us at number two for gold medals per 1,000,000 people, with Jamaica in first place; and second in total medals per 1,000,000 people.
However, Medals per Capita puts us at only 12th for GDP per medal and 13th for golds per capita.
TV# has the story behind this website set up by New Zealander Craig Nevill-Manning, who is an engineering director for Google in New York.
July 28, 2012
Three young tourists were in a pub opposite the Olympics stadium, bemoaning the fact that none of them could afford a ticket.
All three were really keen to see the athletes from their own country compete.
They watched as the athletes entered through a special gate, each telling the guard their country and the event in which they were competing.
One of the tourists noticed a rubbish skip outside and grabbed a length of pipe.
He lifted it on to his shoulder, walked to the gate and told the guard “New Zealand, high jump.” The guard waved him through.
“That’s too easy!” the second traveller said. She looked around, picked up a manhole cover, and headed for the special gate. “Canada, discus,” she said to the guard, and in she walked.
“If they can do it, so can I” said the third backpacker, who was frantically looking around for a prop. All he could find was some barbed wire. He grabbed it, ran to the gate, and said, “Australia, fencing.”