Thursday, 21 August 2008

Olympic boxing - underwater

Since my last posting we’ve added a couple more medals.

In the women’s 400m hurdles a surprise and well-earned bronze went to Tasha Danvers.

In the past the Olympics have had some weird sports (perhaps no more weird than synchronised swimming!) including rope climbing and underwater swimming but now we've got underwater boxing / wrestling. David Davies swam the 10km marathon but swam off course a couple of times resulting in a silver despite him undoubtedly being by far the best swimmer there. In his defence he led almost the whole way and the other swimmers virtually beat him up in the water – it’s a violent and unpleasant tactical race. At the end he was delirious and had to be stretchered away though amid some concern. Fortunately he quickly recovered and, equally fortunately, he was pleased with a silver.

The girls got silver and bronze in their race and he did equally well getting his silver but if we carry on playing by the rules we’ll never get a gold!!! (I’m not suggesting the winner himself cheated but he was a lot bigger than David and perhaps more able to take care of himself). It’s about time they enforced the rules better though in fairness the World Champion was disqualified during the race for too many rough tactics.

David Davies is a Barry boy and very proud of his Welsh roots but you won’t see a single Welsh flag waving in Bejing. It would contravene Olympic rules - section D of the regulations posted outside Olympic venues says that spectators are not allowed to bring in "flags of non-Olympic and Paralympic participating countries/regions". So, no English, Scottish or Welsh flags are allowed since the UK competes as one nation under the flag of the Union Jack.

The winner of the race – Maarten van der Weijden – is himself a story of some inspiration. Seven years ago he was lying in a hospital bed suffering from cancer; his baldness is the outcome of that and not a swimming tactic. He wants to send the message to cancer sufferers everywhere that “If you are lucky there is a major world out there still”.

Our Men’s RS:X wind-surfing – Nick Dempsey - slipped out of the medals in the last race and came in that most invidious of spots – fourth. I think I’d rather be last than be so close and yet so far.

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