The Olympic Games are approaching fast. Let's trip them up ...
"The Olympic Games are almost upon us again, and the words 'on time' are more important than ever."

This from an advertisement for fancy watches or some such. Now, perhaps I'm being pedantic, but in the case of the Olympic Games, surely the words "faster than everyone else" are a little more important than "on time".

In a 100 metres race, for example, it's a fairly safe bet that all the competitors will arrive at the finishing line more or less "on time". Objections would be raised if a 100 metres race started at 4.30pm and ended with one of the competitors hobbling over the finishing line at 8.55pm.

Perhaps the copywriter means that competitors want to get to the Olympic Games on time for their race. If so, I feel he or she could have spent more time at his or her desk, and less trying to throw a tiny basketball through a hoop screwed into the door of his office.

Certainly, if you were to miss your race, waiting four years for another go would be more than most could stand. But one thing you cannot fault Olympic athletes on is their time-keeping; when the camera pans along the competitors at the start of a race, there they all are. I've never seen anyone turn up late for a race - it just doesn't happen. In fact, I feel fairly sure that most athletes would try to make the stadium a good 15 minutes early, just to be sure.

(Maybe the slogan sounded great at first and the copywriter didn't stop to think it through. There are a number of things that, maybe just for a second, sound good but are actually ridiculous. Recently, a friend and I were watching a Marlene Dietrich documentary that used a lot of Super 8 footage, and I said: "They really took a lot of home movies in those days, didn't they?" My friend, in all seriousness, said: "Well, she was a movie star. She probably got a lot of free film." The sentence hung in the air for a moment, and then I laughed so much I had to lie on my back).

Are you looking forward to the Olympics? Me too. Who will win the relay race? Will it be team No 1? Or team No 4? The excitement's killing me! I think it's excitement, anyway. Either excitement or complete lack of interest. One of those. I'm feeling slightly tingly, which would indicate excitement ... oh no, wait ... I'm sitting on a tack.

I personally have a fascination with pole vaulting. Someone from ancient Greece evidently came up with the idea that jumping really high with the aid of a bendy stick was something to be encouraged through the presentation of medals. This either means that the Greeks weren't as bright as we thought they were, or that they were actually aliens, and just strange.

I imagine the stick was a later development: people were just doing that slightly pathetic normal high jump (you run up, stop for some reason, turn around and jump, and then look surprised when you make the thing fall off) when one of the competitors came in and said: "Could you put a big comfortable mattress behind the thing there? I'm going to jump really high."

"That high? You need a mattress?"

"I think so, yeah. I'm going really high."

Eventually, they had to turn it into a separate sport.

When you think about it though ... using the stick, isn't it cheating? I mean, of course you're going to go really high if you have a stick. And if it isn't cheating, then why isn't it used on other sports? Like the long jump? "Oh, splendid jump there

If you can use a stick for jumping, why can't swimmers have a little outboard motor attached to their backs? If swimmers used a little outboard motor, I guarantee more people would watch the sport. It would never be off the air, in fact. Of course, the increased viewing figures would be down to it being hilarious rather than exciting in any way. Stuart Hall could commentate. You'd have to take him home in an ambulance.

One thing about the Games makes me slightly nervous. It seems every time someone breaks another record. Is it possible that this will continue to happen indefinitely? It seems like we're becoming a race of superbeings and, one day, perhaps in a thousand years, people will be able to run fast enough to feel justified in making an EEYOW noise under their breath as they turn corners.

This couldn't be healthy. In the same way that the stick helps the process of jumping high, I think something should be introduced to slow people down a bit. If runners had jockeys, for instance. Or cyclists had to ride huge choppers.

Let's take the stick off the pole vaulter, see what a "big man" he is after that. Not so impressive now, is he? Look at him. He knows he's nothing without a big stick. It's time to feel good about ourselves again. He won't be going anywhere.

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