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

Recruitment Genius: Customer Services Assistant

£12000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A leading online retailer in the Home Im...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Manager - OTE £50,000

£16000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If so, this online retailer are...

Recruitment Genius: Packaging Operatives

£7 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for two indivi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee / Graduate Helpdesk Analyst

£20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Ukip MEP Janice Atkinson (left) with party leader Nigel Farage  

Hey, Nigel Farage and Kerry Smith – my family are East Enders too and never use that word

Victoria Richards

The Top Ten: Words In Christmas Carols That Ought To Be Revived

John Rentoul
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas