Sport on TV: Same old questions but the Brits have the perfect reply
Sunday 05 August 2012
Perhaps the badminton players had it right all along. They weren't deliberately trying to lose in order to avoid the top seeds in the next round, they just didn't want to win because they couldn't face all the media interviews afterwards, the endless BBC presenters asking them: "How does it feel?" Presumably the pundits settled for learning this phrase in 76 different languages and left it at that.
The members of Team GB cannot, of course, avoid the attention. The range of questioning widens slightly for them: "What did you think of the crowd?" At least no one said: "Actually they really put me off", although Tim Baillie and Etienne Stott, gold medallists in the C2 canoe slalom, admitted it had been difficult to stay focused on the minutiae of their complicated discipline. You might have thought the theme tune of Hawaii Five-0 playing endlessly on loop might have been much more irritating.
The repetitious music made the event seem like some video game, and the fact Baillie and Stott were competing against their compatriots David Florence and Richard Hounslow made it even more like a two-player Wii contest. After a largely barren first few days for the hosts, by Thursday we were falling over each other to get to the podium. At least the male gymnasts managed to avoid that.
When the four canoeists were dragged up into the studio, in the depths of an interrogation session verging on waterboarding, the gold medallists got to sit on the sofa while the pair who came second had to stand at the back, their faces all but obscured in the darkness. British competitors are learning what it's like to be among the true elite and that second place means you're a bit of a loser.
There have been some very decorated Olympians on that BBC sofa, exotic specimens such as diver Greg Louganis and gymnast Olga Korbut. It's hard to get them interested in the success of little Britain. Korbut must have been rather bemused to be surrounded by the men's gymnastic team celebrating their first medal in the discipline for 88 years. For Korbut, who won four golds and two silvers before the age of 21, a bronze must have been rather underwhelming.
"This is era going down," she said. "We need to find a new Olga to grace a more beautiful gymnastics, more passion, more smile, more enjoy." She wasn't finished; time for a perfect dismount. "This is why the world fell in love with me: they saw my smile, they felt it." "I'm feeling it now," said the affable Michael Johnson. "We should get her on more often." Others might disagree.
The question that Gabby Logan has kept asking the legends is: "How did you cope with the pressure?" Louganis revealed that he thought about his dear old mum: "I pictured her sitting on the sofa at home – she couldn't get to Seoul in '88 – and she's thinking, 'What a pretty splash'. You've got to keep things in perspective."
In typical British fashion, we couldn't let Louganis get away with too much dignity intact. First they replayed the time he hit his head on the board in Seoul – he still won gold. Then he related how his passion these days is dog agility contests. Perhaps Danny Boyle missed a trick in the opening ceremony. We could have had Louganis's Jack Russells jumping through the Olympic rings of fire.
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