Sport on TV: Want to make history? A silly name won't help
Sunday 20 July 2008
So Great Britain and Ireland may come top of the European medals table when it comes to lack of holidays, high retirement age and low life expectancy – not to mention traditional success in the fields of teenage pregnancy, obesity, binge drinking and drug taking. But if 'Olympic Dreams' (BBC1, Tuesday) come true, we will also excel in chronic parenting and absurd children's names.
Tony and Elaine Romaeo from Cardiff decided their children's names should come from "something romantic, lovers of the world, lovers of history" – Tony used to be a stripper, stage name Romeo. "Venus, Valentine, there's Angel, Aphrodite, then we've got Isis Iphi [that's pronounced Eye-fee], Achilles Spartacus Mars..." As time goes by, the names are getting a lot less lovey-dovey. And there's another one on the way: Caesar Augustus Constantine. Well, it's better than Chardonnay. More classical, innit?
The eldest son, Romeo Casanova Valentine, is training to be a boxing contender for the 2016 Olympics. He will face a few jibes as well as jabs. But at least he can handle himself in the playground.
The series was first aired in December last year, but it had none of the impact of the latest episode. Back then it featured the likes of table tennis prospect Paul Drinkhall refusing to go on a tour of China to hone his skills because his girlfriend wanted to go to a party and he didn't want her to. It was shown on daytime TV and could have been a script from 'Home and Away'. But one prospect who has been retained for the new series is the diving wunderkind Tom Daley, 14. And his remarkable story becomes even more extraordinary.
Last time around we saw him and his father, Rob, celebrating qualification for the Commonwealth Games. Rob was overwhelmed. "I almost thought I was hallucinating," he said, and later discovered he had to undergo an operation to remove a brain tumour the size of a fist. He never told Tom about it all the time that he was trying to qualify for the Olympics.
Meanwhile, Tom took up synchronised diving and qualified for Beijing in that discipline too. As you do.
Back in Wales, Tony says: "If Romeo makes it, if Achilles makes it, as professional boxers, then I don't think Caesar will need to get into any type of sport. Especially boxing." How jolly nice of him. So Caesar will not have to bestride the world like a colossus. Though his sister Venus may have escaped the fate of being used as a child punchbag, Tony is grooming her to be a gymnast at London 2012, and makes her train for up to 28 hours a week even though she is only 11.
"I'd be happy to die now," says Tony. That might cheer up his youngest daughter, Angel – she just runs away from him – but his audience would miss him in this new breed of broadcasting: Unreality TV.
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