The Olympics are a great opportunity to appreciate the beauty of sports which we would otherwise not bother to watch outside of the Olympics.
I did not watch a whole lot of the Olympics, but sports that I enjoyed watching include the high jump, water polo, swimming, triple jump, long jump and volleyball (specifically women’s indoor).
There is something quite magnetic about watching the high jump.
Something about the way the athletes seem to be able to gracefully float so high up in the air at utterly unimaginable heights (we’re talking 2.20m++ here).
Majestic and poetic all at the same time.
I also enjoy the long jump and triple jump.
It’s human endeavour in its purest form.
I love in that in the triple jump the athletes seem to be able to float in the air during their first leap.
Notice how they seem to be able to do this extra “walking on air” step in their first leap.
It’s so unreal.
On the flip side, I personally feel that something just seems to be amiss with the sport of Taekwondo.
Yes, I’m merely an uninformed observer, but from my point of view, I find it very hard to appreciate watching the sport of Taekwondo even at the Olympic level.
I find it hard to appreciate the grace and beauty in the sport, as compared to how easily I can appreciate the grace and beauty in other sports such as volleyball or gymnastics or hockey or even weightlifting.
This is just my personal opinion, but the sport of Taekwondo just seems a bit haphazard to me, the way they seem to anyhow bounce and kick about.
I think the sports that suffer at the Olympics are the sports whereby there is already a very developed and lucrative professional scene.
I’m referring especially to big-time professional sports like basketball, tennis and football.
Olympic basketball gold is nowhere near the prestige of an NBA title, same goes for the tennis gold as compared to a Grand Slam, and a football gold as compared to a World Cup or a Euro.
You get what I mean.
People want to watch Olympic sports knowing that the athletes are giving their best, that this means the world to them, that the athletes have been training obsessively the past 4 years just for this one moment in time (yes, song reference alert!), that the athletes are all extremely hungry for the gold medal like their lives depended on it.
It’s hard to say that all world class NBA players, tennis players and football players would give their all at the Olympics the way the other Olympic athletes do.
I just don’t see that happening.
Swimming looks better than running.
I’ve come to the conclusion that swimming is probably the most telegenic sport in the entire Olympics, in terms of the way it’s presented and its look & feel and all that.
Very sleek, very cool, very hip, very all that.
And a bit more international too, I might add.
The problem with running is that the track is so huge, and it’s quite difficult to keep track of all runners from lane 1 to lane 8.
I was just watching the men’s 4 x 100m athletics relay a few days back (the one where Jamaica broke the WR), and everything was happening so fast I just didn’t know where to look.
And the other problem with track is that if they are running anything more than 100m, the rounded nature of the track is such that you never really know who is in the lead until the final 100m stretch, whereas in swimming everyone swims their laps in completely straight and parallel lines, so the standings are always extremely apparent, and this gives the viewer a better sense of perspective on the race as well.
Also, for some reason the blueness of the swimming pool is just such a treat for the eyes.
And swimming has probably the most different types of events of any sport (e.g. four different strokes plus IM over various distances), so it gives you much more variety to pick and choose which races you want to watch.
Yes, I may be biased because of my swimming background, but it would take a lot to convince me otherwise that swimming is not one of the most, if not THE most telegenic sports in the Olympics.
It certainly is more telegenic than track, in my view.
Water polo is a man’s game.
Man with a capital “M”.
It takes real manliness to play in a top-flight water polo game.
My sister happens to be a SEA Games water polo gold medallist, so I am privy to the finer points of this remarkable sport.
It seems the European men are really having a hold over the sport.
Definitely not an easy game to play, a lot of very rough stuff going on underneath the water surface, but a truly beautiful game when played at the highest level.
To the untrained eye it seems the players merely keep passing the ball back and forth around the periphery of their attack formation until one of them decides to shoot.
But it can get really fascinating when you go deeper into the inner workings of the game.
But then again, I suppose the same could be said for most other sports (including Taekwondo).
I also wish to add that water polo goalies are probably the coolest sportsmen around.
Nothing seems to faze them.
This is probably the first time in history we are able to view all the official Olympic video highlights and full replays on YouTube.
I think it’s just so wonderful.
Gone are the days where you need to i) hope and pray that our local telly is televising that particular event, ii) prepare the VCR and be on alert so as to tape that night’s event, and iii) keep the video tape for posterity for future revisits.
Hey, that’s what I used to do for the swimming events in Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 okay.
Those were the days.
Now you just go onto YouTube and within a few clicks you can watch any highlight or full replay of any event at this year’s London 2012 Olympics.
The wonders of technology.
Which also means people are moving away from watching the Olympics on television.
Hey, I probably watched 80%-90% of my Olympics on YouTube, to be honest.
But that’s just the way it is with the world right now.