Posted: 8/15/2016
Title: GOLDEN DAYS

Blog:                                                                                                                         

         Not sure where to begin with SO MANY greats sports and performances by TEAM GB and some surprising ones from the lesser know nations such as Puerto Rico, Fiji, Grenada, Georgia, Singapore, Kosova... The Brits are on course to exceed their best medal haul ever, at LONDON 2012. Their target is 48 medals in Rio which would be their best ever medal haul 'away' from home. With 7 more days to go they have 40 so far-16 gold-16 silver and eight bronze and fighting for second place overall after USA with 70 with China 46  who has a population of over a billion.

       Team GB has secured medals in fifteen sports so far. A modern low at Atlanta 1996 when Sir Steve Redgrave and Sir Matthew Pinsent won the men's coxless pairs for the team's only gold medal. But what of some of the most populated nations in the world who don't seem to take sport too seriously. . China with 1,321 million will probably come in second to usual table topper USA 130 million.  India 1,130 million hasn't won any kind of medal so far. India won six men's hockey golds in a row at one time but succeeds in only crickey these days, a non Olympic sport. Indonesia population 235 million has two medals, Brazil 206 million-7 medals, Bangladesh 161 million no medals, Pakistan, 195 million-0, Nigeria 186 million-0, Russia 147 million-30, Japan 127 million-26, Mexico 122 million-0, Philippines 102 million-0, Egypt 92 million-2 medals, Vietnam 92 million-2, Congo 85 million-0. Ethiopia 92 million-4.

      It was former Prime Minister John Major who decided after the Atlanta 1996 humiliation when Team GB finished in 36th place, below Kazakhstan and Algeria, to divert National Lottery funding into elite sport..Now a fifth of lottery money goes to sport. Money is targeted to those sports and athletes likely to win medals on the Olympic stage. £350 invested in the current Olympic and Paralympic four year cycle. So far each medal in Rio has cost us £5.5 million !!!

     Success by design under UK Sport performance director Simon Timpson. The culture of marginal gains at British cycling had been applied in rowing, sailing and more. Internal bickering four years ago within swimming has been cast aside and gymnastics, kayak, and the NEW Olympic sport of golf has been a golden success. This weekend was amazing.competition.  Even though Team GB were smashed by Fiji in the rugby sevens final it was an enjoyable tournament and will be even more prominent in a 'rugby' nation of Japan at 2020. For the Fijians it was their first ever Olympic medal of any kind. About 20 years ago I was a guest of Fiji Airways (then Air Pacific) for a week. I went to the annual Inter Island soccer tournament in the small one horse town of BA on the West Coast, an hour or so north of Nadi International Airport.

    My idea was to hold an international youth soccer tournament in a country where TIME BEGINS and start in the 20th Century and finish in the 21st. I visited the national federation 200 km drive East in my rent car along the Queens Highway to Suva the capital. I visited the federation office and looked around the pitches near the national stadium and at the main campus of The University of The South Pacific. Shortly after my visit there was a Coup d'Etat when the armed forces and the native Fijians took over Government House over concern about The Indian population, about 50% who control most of the commerce and who originally were brought in a indentured workers in the sugar plantations. Well, that was the end of my grand plans.

        What a tennis men's singles final !  Andy Murray managed to retain the title he won in London four years ago against the plucky 6' 5" giant Argentinian Juan Martin Del Potro in 4 exhausting sets. A great atmosphere in the 3 hour plus match with lots of Argentinian and British fans court side in full voice and national jerseys, war paint, wigs and tartan.. In contrast we had the men's 100 metre spring final lasting under 10 seconds with Jamaican Usain Bolt, another 6' 5" athlete, setting the stadium alight with his 3rd title in a row, beating out American Justin Gatlin who was booed by the near capacity crowb of 65,000 in the Olympic Stadium.

       Once again though we had interference by NBC Sports of USA who reduced the rest time between the semi-finals and final for their own selfish gain. Also some of the venues were lacking the very pleasant pastel Rio 2016 decorations that have been pleasant to the eye. The contract was won by a firm from Azerbaijan who sub contracted the order to a Ukrainian company who had the job done in China. Two large plans full of decorations were still in the air as the Opening Ceremony got under way.

       At least two bad sportsmanship occasions. USA womens goalkeeper Hope Solo stepped to the side of her goal and took time changing a perfectly good pair of gloves to delay the fifth and what proved the winning gold medal kick from penalty kick after a 1-1 tie. She then called Sweden ' A bunch of cowards and the same for her former USA coach who is now in charge of he native Sweden Pia Sundhage. No problem, she is going home and I am going to Rio (for the semi-final with Brazil Tuesday night).

      Egyptian judoka Islam El Shehaby lost in the elimination round mens 100kg classification to Israeli athlete Or Sasson and refused to shake his hand in what is a very polite after contest normal thing to do. Yesterday his national Olympic federation sent El Shehaby home for his conduct. and he was also repremanded by the IOC. Yet another athlete destined to shine shoes on a Cairo street corner or sell chiclets or loose cigarettes !!

     Justin Rose of Team GB beat Sweden's best Henrik Stenson by two shots clear of his Ryder Cup partnerwith a final round 67 in front of a capacity final day crowd of 15,000 after a 112  year absence of the sport. Many first time spectators, one of whom with a Mexican flag picked up Rose's ball as it was rolling off the greens.  The top golfers that made excuses to not show up may now be regretting their absence.

      Lots more excitement to come in the final few days.

 

     

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