Rhodri Marsden: It's time to forget about piaffes and pirouettes for another four years

I've learned so much that will now be placed in mental cold storage

Related Topics

Some of the knowledge loitering in my head is only intermittently useful.

Alongside the obscure biographical details of W.C. Fields that I trot out whenever his films are shown, and the smattering of Hungarian that allows me to order food in Budapest without provoking muffled laughter, there's obscure sporting ephemera. Over the last couple of weeks my hippocampus has been forced to dredge up Olympic-sized chunks of this information which, if I'm honest, I'm not going to require again until 2016 when I'm staying up late eating Wotsits and watching live coverage from Rio. Events like shooting, mountain biking and synchronised diving deserve way more than my quadrennial attention, but it takes breathless international media coverage of a stupendous Olympic ceremony for me to sit up and show interest.

Once I'm in Olympic mode, however, I instinctively head for the sports that are rarely televised; even Sky, with its four channels of wall-to-wall sporting diversions, devotes way more airtime to sexy Australian aerobics or theatrical American wrestling than it ever will to fencing or table tennis. So tuning in to the taekwondo was like catching up with an old friend who'd been away on business for four years; its peculiar idiosyncrasies quickly came flooding back, e.g. I'm supposed to cheer when someone boots their opponent in the head, but mutter in disappointment if they kick them in the face. A subtle distinction, but a crucial one.

I remembered that weightlifting isn't just about people picking up heavy stuff while grunting; it's also about tactics, strategy and poker-style face-offs, as athletes nominate the weights they're planning to lift and then cunningly change their mind at the last minute. I've learned new terms that are now set for four years of mental cold storage: the repechage in the rowing, the whoops in the BMXing, the passage, piaffe and pirouette in the wonderfully baffling dressage. But knowing what those three Ps mean didn't help me assess equestrian skill; I watched the event while thinking "Is this a medal winner? I've no idea."

And the court moppers – oh, the court moppers; that games within the Games, where efficient clearing of sweat from the badminton or volleyball court is rewarded with the opportunity to mop up sweat in the final. By the end of the 2016 Games I aim to become an armchair expert on court mopping technique, with the perhaps forlorn hope that it'll be an official Olympic sport by 2020.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Read Next
Former N-Dubz singer Tulisa Contostavlos gives a statement outside Southwark Crown Court after her trial  

It would be wrong to compare brave Tulisa’s ordeal with phone hacking. It’s much worse than that

Matthew Norman
The Big Society Network was assessed as  

What became of Cameron's Big Society Network?

Oliver Wright
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn