Sport on TV: Britain's home-made appliance of science
Saturday 25 March 2006
It's been said before, Brian, but sport is all about producing it on the day, and in 2012 there's going to be a few on-the-days when some domestic metalware production will be in order. Host nations who do not storm Olympic podiums en masse are just embarrassing.
So what are we to do? Apparently, the answer lies in biomechanics. And what are we doing about it? The answer to that, according to Horizon: Winning Gold in 2012 (BBC1, Saturday), could almost be encouraging, except for one fact - those 2012 Games are simply coming too soon.
Scene: a sports lab near Canberra. A swimmer trains. A magnet in her cap links up with sensors on the blocks. Cameras in the pool scrutinise every move in a relentless quest for maximum efficiency (that's the biomechanics bit).
The Australian Institute of Sport was modelled - minus the pharmaceuticals, presumably - on the East German machine. And they're determined, we are told, "to win the sports technology arms race". Portable lactate analysers, pulse oximeters, instrument shoes, oxygen enrichers, a pill developed by the military that transmits medical signals from inside the body - it's sport for the space age.
And what have we got? It's all in the editing, but according to Horizon this is what we've got. Scene: a swimming pool in Bolton. The Paralympian hopeful Rachel Latham is at one end of a fishing line. At the other is Dr Carl Payton's home-made velocimeter. It's Apollo 13. To be fair, if I must, it is wired up to a laptop, and it did help young Latham lop three seconds off the 100 metres butterfly junior world record.
In swimming, of course, we're already applying a bit of Aussie backbone in the spherical shape of Bill Sweetenham, and in cycling, the system has been up and running for a while. But elsewhere, it's panic stations. Peter Keen, performance advisor to UK Sport, says it's a 20-year process, and we're halfway there. He thinks we can squeeze the rest into six years. It might prove a long jump too far.
I've no idea how India selects and moulds its cricketing talent. Indeed, a bit of research would have made this link rather more convincing. But whatever they do, it counted for nothing when their on-the-day became a day to forget on Wednesday (Sky Sports 1).
Just after lunch, at 75 for 3, they could still hope. "They don't want to win the series one-zero, they want to win it two-zero," the ever-upbeat Aussie Dean Jones said. A few seconds later Freddie Flintoff dismissed Rahul Dravid and Jones went into overdrive: "Captain Flintoff, take a bow! You have led from the front from the beginning of this series!"
Bizarrely, given that he'd just been leading the boys in a Johnny Cash singalong, you could hear someone bawling, "Burn, burn, burn, burning ring of fire." Had he been earwigging at the dressing room door? And has Fab Freddie hit upon a secret weapon in the run-up to 2012?
When Footballers Wives lost its way, its secret weapon was obvious: bring back Tanya, its malicious heart and twisted soul. On Thursday (ITV1), the Lady Macbeth of Earls Park duly flew in from exile - a lucrative marriage to some fat Brazilian - draped round the Sparks' new himbo import. However, the acid queen of prime time had a shock when pretty boy's squeeze turned up, setting in motion a clash of the soap eons that promises some top rucks. She's publisher Eva de Wolffe, played to within an inch of her acting ability by that 103-year-old glamourpuss, Joan Collins.
"Maybe he's got a fetish for support tights," Tanya said as she watched pretty boy play the lapdog.
This took place at midfielder Tremaine and secret lesbian Liberty's Ancient Egyptian-themed wedding, which evoked in its folie de grandeur Kyle and Chardonnay's do, the principal memories of which involve massed ranks of dwarves. Ah, they were great days, and I thought we'd seen the last of them. But Tanya and Eva have every chance of dragging Footballers Wives back to tawdry, tacky greatness.
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