Sport on TV: Footballers show again all that glitters is not gold
It's time for the last event in the emotional gymnastics, when you realise you're no longer feeling anxious about a whole range of obscure sports you won't think about for another four years. Apart, that is, from the few who will jump off the couch, vault on to the sideboard and execute an effortless double pike out of the back door in order to begin realising their dreams for 2012.
Once the 300 hours of dressage finally shuffled off – albeit in a composed, rhythmic fashion – it has been compulsive viewing, from Bryony Shaw's deranged squealing and Aaron Cook's tears of rage to Tim Brabants' arms and, of course, Usain Bolt's legs.
And the recipient of the Dame Kelly Award for sheer gobsmackery, inaugurated in Athens four years ago, goes to Christine Ohuruogu. With her legions of doubters scraping their jaws off the track, the linguistics graduate was literally lost for words: now that was pure TV gold. There were so many things she could have said.
As our thoughts turn to London 2012 and the humble souls who will allow our spirits to soar once more, compare and contrast to the launch of another new era – and, inevitably, our spoilt-rotten footballers. On Wednesday Setanta bit off its first unpalatable chunk of live England coverage with the friendly against the Czechs, their last match before Capello's World Cup campaign begins.
England were appalling, Heskey was back again, David James is still bonkers, Frank Lampard was anonymous and booed off the pitch. Plus ça change, as the Italians say. Oh, and a senior FA official was sacked. That just about completes the set. John Champion asked, "What must Steve McClaren be thinking, sitting at home?" Perhaps "Thank God I haven't got Setanta".
And where was Des Lynam, Setanta's erstwhile advertising front-man, just to sweeten the pill a little? We could have done with that old twinkling eye, but if his utterly humourless impersonations of Magnus Magnusson on 'Sport Mastermind' are anything to go by, he seems to have given up playing the part of mother, brother or lover to the England football fan.
Meanwhile we were told that David Beckham was off to Beijing the next day to attend the closing ceremony. Perhaps he can bring back some inspiration from our underpaid, overreaching heroes.
The BBC was outstanding at the Olympics, but the timing of their sitcom 'The Cup' (BBC1, Thursday) was way off the pace given the FA's new Respect campaign towards referees.
The appalling attitude of mums and dads – let's call them "MADs" – towards officials in junior football is something that needs to be celebrated about as much as a comedy about racist hooligans in the build-up to a football tournament in Africa. Watch this space.
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