Athletico Olympico -The Magic of Track & Field
My first minute of research on Athletics threw up that: “Track and field-style events are among the oldest of all sporting competitions”, not particularly surprising I think you’ll agree. This particular source notes that this is to be expected, “as running, jumping and throwing are natural and universal forms of human physical expression…” Most notably, activities combined in the dwarf-throwing antics of Lord of the Rings…
If you’ve read any of the MatchPint Olympics blogs recently, then that intro won’t phase you… if you haven’t, I can only apologise for the irrelevant nature of my first external reference.
In my research, however, you’ll be happy to hear that I actually did find a few more useful snippets that I advise you drop in - between pints 2 and 3 - at the pub; I’m hoping that off the back of these, you might get the just acclaim that you deserve as a fountain of knowledge; this, inevitably, will result in some form of Kudos, and an unspoken new found respect for your pub banter.
Fact 1: The Games, as they were referred to back then, were held at Olympia, and started c.776 B.C. Winners of the Olympics would live off the spoils of the land and get any pick of adoring female fans (see Rolling Stones in their prime for a mental image). The Games were banned in 393 A.D. by the Roman Christian emperor Theodosius, who considered them pagan festivals…
Yes, correct, he does look like a mug, and back-alley rumours suggest that he was better known as Idioticus the Drab for the decade that followed.
Fact 2: The Ancient Heptathlon consisted of a Sprint, Discus, Javelin, Long Jump, and (drum roll)… Wrestling.
Fact 3: The five Olympic rings represent the five major continents – Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania, and every national flag in the world includes at least one of the five colours.
Events to watch and why?
The Heptathlon (3rd-4th August)- Well there are three great reasons to make this the event that you keep a very keen eye on.
Numero Uno- It’s an incredibly competitive field: Tatyana Chernova (Russia) will be hoping to improve on her bronze medal finish in 2008, and Nataliya Dobrynska (Ukraine) will be keen to defend the gold medal she won in Beijing. while the likes of Jennifer Oeser (Germany), Karolina Tyminska (Poland), Antoinette Nana Djimou (France), and Jessica Zelinka (Canada) all have an outsider’s chance to pluck a medal.
Numero Dos- Jessica Ennis! Our pin-up girl has built her entire career around this moment. She missed the last Olympics through injury and this is it.. Just thinking about it makes me nervous for her.
Numero Tres- Jessica Ennis! She’s great, get behind her!
400 m Heats (4th August)- ”Why would I watch the heats?” I hear you ask… Well it’s likely to be the only place you’ll see ludicrously impressive Oscar ‘Blade Runner’ Pistorius make history, by being the first handicapped man to compete in the Olympic Athletics.
100m, 200m, 4x100m, and possibly the 4x400m- Slow down! Why all of these in one go? Easy, these are all the events that the most charismatic and relaxed man to have graced the Olympics - let alone Athletics - will be performing in for us. And this time he’s under pressure; team-mate Yohan Blake will be looking to snatch the limelight in the showcase event. No offence to Blake, but who in their right mind doesn’t want to see the Bolt do it again, so we can get another chest pumping lap of honour, drizzled with some more crazy dance moves…?
The Triple Jump (9th August)- Phillips Idowu has been in the news for all the wrong reasons this week, but I don’t mind that. He’s in it for himself. We have to remember that he’s been working towards an event like this all his life, so he has to do right by himself, however much the Press or the team want to get on his back. He competes in an individual sport and he’s old enough to know how best to prepare. He has somehow managed to get a ‘favourite’ badge for this event and if he manages to pluck Gold out of nowhere following pretty disastrous preparation, then he will be a hero... let’s just hope he can do it.
10,000 m (4th) and the 5,000 m (9th)- Mo Farah has gone about his incredible achievements in a supremely humble way throughout his career. He came into a little bit of criticism for dropping out of a couple of events in preparation for the Olympics but it comes down to the fact that all athletes have to do everything for themselves on their way into the Olympics. This is their big moment and they shouldn’t go in with any regrets about their preparation. No-one could have predicted that we would have a long distance runner of his quality coming into the 2012 Olympics, and we should be thankful for that.
All there is left to do is thank the Pagan Gods that helped people realise that Theodosius had a made a woeful decision; in time this ensured that the Greatest Sporting combat - and it’s meaningful flame - was re-ignited. We are once again allowed to enjoy a Sporting tournament of epic proportions from the comfort of our favourite pub.
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