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