I didn't excel at any particular sport in my prep school. It was a very competitive place with a lot of pupils and it was there that my inner slacker kicked in for the very first time. I was good at three things and none of them required much training – throwing the cricket ball (it was felt that javelins were too dangerous); the high jump, (I cleared a metre as far as I can remember... it might even have been a metre twenty); then there was baseball.
We had a North American teacher who started a baseball club. I joined it, I can't remember why, but it just took my fancy. I think I thought it was exotic and different. As it was, the way we played the game it was not much more aggressive or tricky than rounders. My small claim to fame was that I was the first person at my school to get my "colours" for baseball. If I'm honest I'm not entirely sure what the colours were awarded for – there wasn't a huge baseball-playing circuit in Oxfordshire. I think we ended up playing people a lot older than us at some American air force base and got very badly beaten. It was probably a sort of sympathy vote.
This got me to thinking about other sports that possibly don't involve quite as much training as others. Now, obviously all sports require a vast amount of dedication and training, blah, blah, blah... but sometimes when you're watching sports you do get the feeling that maybe some sports are "easier" than others. So here's my list of "easy" sports (stands back and waits for the abuse).
High jump – I'm sorry, but you can either do this or you can't. It obviously helps if you're very tall but, essentially, you run, you jump and – that's it. Compare that with the pole vault. How the hell do you even start to pole vault? It looks totally impossible. You need to get a pole – where do you go to buy a vaulting pole and how do you travel around with them? Are you allowed to do pole vault in prison? So many questions...
Long jump – just run fast and jump as far as you can. Sure, fitness plays a part but even organisers of long jump know that it's a con – that's why they came up with the triple jump. At some stage, some long jumpers were in a bar and some locals started teasing them about how easy their sport was. That evening, stung with humiliation, they came up with the concept of the triple jump, or the hop, skip and the jump as it used to be called until they realised that it sounded silly. It's pointless, but still more complicated than the long jump. That's why you have to decide long or triple. It will define you.
Shot put – big, huge man has choice. He becomes a bouncer or he takes up this sport. If it's the latter, he needs an industrial amount of talcum powder to put on his neck and a miniature cannonball. He then has to hurl said cannonball further than the other big, huge men who decided not to be bouncers. I reckon a daily training routine of around 10 minutes should probably do it.
Wrestling – this is possibly for the big, huge men who didn't want to become bouncers but felt the need to wear Lycra. I know it's strong and tough but... isn't it just a bar brawl in tights?
Olympic race walking – come on... walking as a sport? The big question here is what made competitors decide upon walking as opposed to running. The whole skill of this sport, as far as I can see, is to go as fast as you can without running. Why not just cut out the middle man and run? I find this sport deeply psychologically disturbing. I think that competitors are blocking something out, keeping a terrible secret from me.
I want a separate Olympics in London in 2012, an "easy" Olympics. All the sports that we all consider to be "easy" can have an "all comers" element to them. It'll be like the days when boxers would turn up in a town and challenge locals to take them on. It would be great – loads of people flinging themselves over the high-jump bar and somersaulting into the long-jump sand. Come on, they want the Olympics to be interactive and crowd-pleasing... you know it makes sense.
Shanaze Reade, Olympic BMX hopeful, is told to "grow up". I thought the whole point of BMX was that it was "for the kids".