We cycled the three miles to Earls Court to catch the 9.30am session of womens volley ball. The music blared,pure Magaloof disco. Poom.poom, da poom.OK, maybe at 2am, but before lunch?
Pubescent pom pom girls in their spangly outfits gyrated and squirmed. What am I meant to think? cheer leaders at 17 may have their charms(see American Beauty) but at 13(isnt it illegal?) no way.(OK if you are a suicide bomber,its what you are dieing for))A warm up merchant took us through the doleful litany of Are You Happy: Do You Love the Olympics: Are You Enjoying Yourselves: Sorry I didnt hear that. Ouch.Panto at its worst.
Then we were led through the excruciating karaoke of We are the Champions.(Which has the very non Olympian line-No time for losers!)It all felt like one of those afternoon sessions they have in old people’s homes. (They really look forward to it you know,you should have seen him yesterday). All topped off with a Mexican wave. Always remember that nearly half now go to university. Otherwise how could they read the karaoke.
Then there was the sport. First up Japan versus the Dominican Republic. Three close games with lots of good rallies although one always felt Japan were really always in control. But good sport. Next up Russia against Algeria.
What happened to those short dumpy Russian women who used to shave? This lot were tall,elegant, blond goddesses and frankly the Algerians just werent in it.The tallest Algerian would have been the smallest Ruskie. We stayed for two one sided games,cheering every single(there werent many ) Algerian point.
Next it was the late shift boxing in the Docklands. A tad more serious. Boxing crowds are mainly men and what girls who come are the real thing,mini skirts,cleavage, the business. Eight bouts in two hours. The crowd are not squeamish,in fact they want blood. Behind me were a bunch of Essex lads doing their Millwall thing. Russians and Americans were Fucking Scum,every bout was cheered on by Fucking Do Him. Any support from Ghana or elsewhere was met with a loud jeer Yer What. But then, something quite wonderful happenned.
A Venezuelan fighter was being supported by a platoon of large busted,peroxide stained ,screeching blondes. At first the boys from Braintree were incredulous. Fucking imagine waking up next to That. I wonder what It sounds like in orgasm. Then one spouted off. They are the bollocks,they are the real thing, getting behind their team. Suddenly the boys from Braintree were leading the whole arena in a chant for Venezuela. We were all up for Chavez and his Chums.The fighter responded and won.
On the tube going home the crowd were still chanting for Chavez’s Chums. It was bloody marvellous. After the bout one of the Essex lads asked me Where the fuck is it? Who cares?
But if ever a Geography A level was needed it was the next night.For then it was back to Excel for the serious business of weightlifting. A bit of a collector’s item. I realised that what the countries who do well ,Kazakhstan,Moldova,Iran, Azerbaijan and Belarus(do you know where they all are?) have in common is very poor television. That is, every night the great leader and or his son comes on and tells them how well tractor production is going. Solution,get into the back yard and get the weights out.
The final I saw was the 94kg class and the winner at one point lifted 250kg. As our children would say, awesome. Very different from body builders, weightlifters look more like rugby players ,that is strong rather than odd.
Very tense, the moment of lift is highly emotional and often quite gripping as a real struggle takes place. Man,mind,weight,you feel the tension.You can tell the ones who arent going to do it,they hesitate just a moment too long and you know all is lost. Any way the man from Kaza,a Ilym Ilya only 24 and supported by half his country won his second Olympic gold and so I suppose in weightlifting is set to do a Sir Steve Redgrave. Crowd went mad for his world record.
OK I had to look it up,Kazakhstan is an enormous country south of Russia .Land locked,stretching from the Caspian Sea to Mongolia and China. So now you know. Go Team Kaza.
So now I have Olympic fever. Next morning,off to Blackfriars to see the womens marathon. It rains, it pours. Stand next to a family who have come up from Bath just to see the Marathon. They are marathon addicts, she has run twenty in under three hours. So she had an excuse for being seriously dull. On my other side a Dutch woman proudly told me her country had just won a gold and a bronze. I smiled,my family used to help rule India ,arched my eyebrows ,nodded and said,” You have done well”. None like us.