Are all gold medals equal?

English: Finland top-beachvolleyball player Ri...

English: Finland top-beachvolleyball player Riikka Lehtonen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you’d asked me how I felt about the Olympics a few days before the opening ceremony to London 2012, I probably would have shrugged my shoulders. To be honest I was a bit nonplussed with the whole event. After the triumphant opening ceremony, my interest started to grow.

Now after a whole week of competition, I am caught up in Olympic fever. I’ve been checking websites and watching coverage with the best of them. I regret not applying for tickets now. Some of the events leave me awestruck.

When I see the athletes leaping and pirouetting through the air in graceful somersaults one after another, it makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck. When I see a gymnast swinging at fantastic speed from bar to bar in the asymmetric bars, I watch transfixed. Somehow what they do seems so completely impossible that you expect them to fall at any moment.

When the guys on the rings hold themselves in the crucifix position before forcing themselves upwards slowly and gracefully, I find it hard to contemplate the strength and control that is required for such a manoeuvre. It’s not just the gymnastics. The synchronised diving takes my breath away. How can they perform such complicated dives and remain almost entirely in synch is beyond me. Lots and lots of practise I guess.

The endurance events like triathlon and marathon are also impressive but, because of their slower pace, they impress in a different way. The versatility required in the decathlon demands respect, and the swimming disciplines are exciting to watch. I’m a sucker for anything that floats, so I love the sailing, canoeing and rowing events.

When it comes to the beach volleyball, I can’t take it seriously. We already have proper volleyball, played on a court like we used to at school. Why do we need to have the game you play on the beach when you’re on holiday? I think it’s a sport which struggles to even take itself seriously. Maybe it’s the bikinis. Maybe it’s the bum-slapping after every point. Maybe it’s the Benny Hill music that plays in between games that sets it apart from all the other fine and noble sports that are part of the games.

Beach volleyball is entertaining to watch and I have no doubt that there is a lot of skill involved, and they need physical fitness, but does that put the sport at the same level as the others which seem so much more demanding? When I watch beach volleyball, I can’t quite shake the feeling that it’s a “sport” in which anyone could become proficient given the practise. When I look at the other events, they simply don’t seem that accessible.


2 comments on “Are all gold medals equal?

  1. LOL Mr Bailey I suggest you try playing Beach Volley Ball for 10 minuites and you’ll see it’s not a walk in the park. The sand absorbs your strength. However look at the mens v womens – there is a big difference but I enjoy watching both, maybe for other reasons 🙂 By the way if you want to know what it takes to reach the less accessible side of things ask Max of the Mens Gynnastic Team GB, he lives around the corner from you – Yes a Hemel lad…

  2. Pingback: Die Blogosphäre über die London 2012 | Pascal Wiederkehr

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