For the next 18 days I’m going to be getting hot, sweaty and, inevitably, annoyed, on the London Underground. It’s likely I’ll be seen angrily cursing at foreign, and possibly even more so not foreign, tourists. You’ll probably also catch me nervously laughing off security breaches and bomb threats in true British style. That’s right, I’m working at the Olympics. And I can’t bloody wait.
My official tittle at London 2012 is ‘Liaison Officer’, and the Olympic Broadcast Service (OBS) is whom I’ll be liaising for. And just to nip those cynical types of you in the bud right away, I am more than just a glorified steward. I think.
There are a variety of roles I could be given, including guiding athletes to mixed zone interviews, looking after the broadcasters asking the questions or making sure the commentary positions are all in order. In short, a middle man between the action and the rights-holding broadcasters (RHB’s) such as the BBC, and others from Europe, as well as NBC from the USA and CCTY of China, ensuring they get the best coverage possible.
So, will I meet Usain Bolt? Probably not, no. Ah, erm, well if I’m not seeing any proper events like the athletics then maybe I’ll be granted some nice eye candy at the gymnastics or even the beach volleyball? Nope. I gave them my preference, football at Wembley, naturally. And, they gave me the Wrestling and Judo at the Excel Arena. Ah well, I only wanted to see Becks anyway…
In all seriousness though and I know it is a bit cliche, not to mention what ‘they’ want you to say, but a chance to get right in the thick of the action and learn about a sport that is completely new to me is appealing. However, I hated WWF, or whatever, and I know squat all about Judo either, but now I’m going to be eating grapples and sleeping kicks. Therefore, it’s about time I learned something about it. I won’t go into details on rules etc, mainly because I have no knowledge of those details, but also because there are already plenty available.
Team GB don’t really stand a chance of winning a Wrestling medal at the Olympics, which is a shame, however, I can confirm that the event looks a lot better than the drama and show of Wrestling you see on TV.
Due to something I neither understand nor care enough about to find out, our initial allowance of three athletes has been reduced to one measly space, filled right to the brim by Ukrainian born Olga Butkevych in the women’s event. Annoyingly, our Commonwealth champ, the also dubiously named Myroslav Dykun, has been banned for two years after he failed a drugs test.
It should still be fun though, right? Despite the slight hopes of our nation resting on one women’s broad, broad shoulders, it has a number of things going for it. The sport is intense (I for one am looking forward to some big hits) , they’ll be some frighteningly MASSIVE people to look at, and Poland/Ukraine’s Euro 2012 makes for a nice little conversation starter with the Eastern Europeans that I may have to, handle. Lovely
Judo, on the other hand, seems to me to be a good chance for Team GB. Despite suffering a medal drought for 12 years, the London Games is the first games at which GB have entered ‘judokas’ in every weight category, so we’ve already beating the Wrestlers on that one.
We won four golds in the European Cup at K2 Crawley in May. Euan Burton, won ‘Kano Cup in 2009, which no Brit has ever done, and Gemma Howell has won her last four tournaments, including two European Cup and two World Cup events.
“Although Judo is a martial art, its practice and methods are based around gentleness. Giving way to the strength of the opponent, adapting to and using it to your advantage will achieve victory over the opponent.”
I found that quote on Team GB’s official website. I then Youtube’d some footage, and after careful consideration present these findings: It doesn’t look bloody gentle! There are a number of moves, of which I wont spell out, but have a look of this and then tell me it’s still gentle.
I have to say I’m intrigued with what I have found out about Judo. You can be disqualified for deliberately hurting an opponent. You can’t punch or kick, but apart from that, a customary ‘Bow’ to your opponent before attempting to beat the shit out of them is about the only ‘rule’ I can find. The whole thing is based around things like honour, self-control, courage and respect.
Various members of the squad seem to have talked about the sport as their way out. Winston Gordon claimed it saved him from a gang life as a troubled child. Ashley McKenzie found himself flung into the sport by his mother after a fight caused by a Pokemon card disagreement. What’s sad, though, is that Judo is in danger of losing vital funding.
Kate Howey who was the last Brit to win a Judo medal, Silver in Sydney back in 2000, told Press Association Sport: “We really need a medal to help secure some funding and if we don’t, then it will be difficult to go to UK Sport and have a strong case.”
So, the two sports seem pretty similar in places; Wrestling being the event for the slightly more crazy, perhaps, but both are sure to prove entertaining. The added importance of the Games for the Judo team, as well as a possibility for success, also makes for an interesting experience that I can’t wait to see unfold before my eyes.