Friday, July 30, 2004

The over-proliferation of exclamation marks in titles (!)

It's just come to my attention that I've developed a nasty habit of ending almost every title with an exclamation mark. Please excuse my over-enthusiasm. I think I'm just a bit giddy that two weeks tonight the whole thing will have started. And I'll be there!!!!!


Olympic Village Open!

It's probably a good job considering that the athletes have started arriving - but the Olympic Village is now open. According to the piece below from Greek newspaper Kathimerini, 16,000 athletes will stay there and they'll be able to take advantage of "places of worship, shops, a bank, a post office, a hairdresser, cafeterias, 24-hour restaurants, a cinema, bars and a disco, a library, and a billiards hall." A disco? A DISCO?! And how exactly is that going to help them when they've got to get up early the next morning and run faster than anyone in the whole world? Pah! And double pah!

I do, though, like the idea that they're having a little welcoming celebration for every nation as they arrive. Well, as long as that celebration doesn't involve everyone going down the disco and getting hammered! Olympic Village opens

I've figured out how to do pictures!

Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Yes, as the above photo of my wellies on my birthday at this year's Glastonbury festival conclusively proves, I have figured out how to put photos on my Blog.

Which, when it comes to sharing stories from the Games (we travel to Athens in 11 days!) can only be described as a very good thing.

The British team depart sporting impressive leisurewear!

So a bunch of the British Olympic team have now departed for Athens. I suppose that gives 'em a while to have a look at the tourist sights before they have to think about racing/throwing/shooting/jumping/gymnasting/etc.

Now, may I say, their team leisurewear in the pictures on the link below looks very nice indeed. Check out the white T-shirts with the words Great Britain written in a swanky script - a clever twist on a simple classic. Note too the smart-but-casual trousers (tan? beige? camel?) - which look both stylish and comfortable. And who could describe the red, white and blue tracksuits as anything but natty?

Well done GB. Even if you're going to come last in your events, at least you'll have the consolation of looking jolly stylish.

Getty Images: First British Olympic Team Members Depart For Athens

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Check out my medals table...

Look over yonder on the left. Yup, just below the links and stuff. Yes, there's a medals table! Which will automatically update during the Games to show the Top 10 medal takers! Impressive stuff, eh? Question is, can the mighty GB make it in there? I'm guessing probably not.

Oh and I saw on telly that they've started trialling the spanking new trams in Athens, so it looks like public transport is on its way to being sorted out. Which is, undoubtedly, A Good Thing.

And for those in Blighty, there's a programme on BBC3 on this coming Sunday night about Radio One DJ Nmone, who's apparently spent a year training to see if she's good enough to race for Greece in the 400m at this year's Games. I'm guessing she won't make it, but it sounds like an interesting idea for a show. And after my Highland Games success last week, maybe it'll give me some tips on how to go about making the Olympics in 2008...

Kevin - I've Done You Wrong And I'm Sorry

A little while I ago, I mentioned that a chap called Kevin had posted a comment asking for more posts on athens2004blog from a woman's point of view. I was wrong. He's written again to point out - correctly - that he actually said 'from a worm's point of view'.

Apologies Kevin. My mistake.

Now, who can tell me what a worm's point of view is..?

Sunday, July 25, 2004

athens2004blog a hit down under! let's share tips!

Yup, just two weeks after we got our 500th visit, we've already hit 700. Which, I reckon, is pretty decent. And means we're averaging a massive 14 visitors a day. Yes! 14! That's, well, quite a lot.

The interesting thing I've noticed (from the Site Meter thing below) is that a healthy majority of the visitors are from Australia. I'm guessing this is because a) you're still basking in the glow of hosting the last Games so well, b) you're outdoors-y types, so even when your indoors on your computers you want to read about outdoors-y type things, and c) because I got a link from some big Australian running website.

And now for my latest shameless attempt to get some discourse going on athens2004blog (the only Olympic blog you'll ever need, except for the one that there's a link to over on the left which is actually very interesting too). G'day, sports. Stoked that you could visit my blog. Now tell me, who in the Australian Olympic team should we non-Oz folk be looking out for come the Games?

In fact, anybody from any country feel free to post your top tips on the comments thingy below, then we can all remember them and make ourselves look particularly with-it when we're watching the Games with mates and start singing the praises of some obscure Slovenian beach volley duo who then go on to storm the gold.

I'll start. There's a young Brit road-race cyclist called Nicole Cook. She had to miss Sydney - even though she was the top-ranked Brit at the time - because she was only 16 and the IOC said that was too young. She lives/trains with a pro team in Italy now, seems to be over a recent knee injury and is so fired up to be allowed to go to this Games that she's definitely one to look out for.

Historian writes with point about private parts

A chap has posted a comment to my 'original Olympians' post below - here it is to save you having to click...

4. OlympIans also enhanced the aerodyamics of their naked bodies by hoisting their most private part in a kynodesme. For an elegant illustration of a Greek athlete in all his glory, go to your earlier post, below: Naked Olympic action!

Yrs - A Historian With An Eye for Detail."

The post of mine he's referring to is shown below (Fri Jul 9) - and that does indeed refer to the very programme I watched the other night, 'The First Olympian'. However, the programme was an hour long and I only caught the last 35 minutes. I can categorically state that at no point during those 35 minutes did anybody get nekkid and start messing with their privates. And no reference was made to them doing so.

So, did anybody see the first 25 minutes? Was that the bit where the hardcore kynodesme-hoisting action took place? If anyone knows, I'd be very interested to hear.

Meanwhile, our new historian friend would be very welcome to share more such enlightening Olympian info with us. Perhaps he could start by revealing what, exactly, a kynodesme is?

Friday, July 23, 2004

The original Olympians

Just watched an interesting documentary on BBC2 about the original Olympians, which used the bones of an ancient athlete to determine, for example, whether he could jump further than a modern man (apparently, he could).

But perhaps even more interesting was what we learnt from the many recreation scenes.

1. Olympians grunted a lot.
2. Olympians over-acted almost everything they did while the crowd behind them tried to get their faces on telly.
3. Olympians tended to compete in gratuitous slow motion.

Fascinating stuff!

Olympic construction deaths

Just saw this really good piece on the BBC's website about the still-rising death toll in the construction for the Games - they think as many as 40 workers may now have died in work related to the Olympics. As I've said before, I think it will be outrageous if the IOC don't figure something into the Games (ideally the opening ceremony) to pay tribute to these over-worked, under-paid labourers who have, quite literally, given their lives to make the Games happen.

BBC News: Workers In Peril At Athens Sites

My first Highland Games...

So, yesterday was the day I got a feel for track and field from a competitor's point of view, taking part in the Isle Of Mull Highland Games 2004 (see link below) up in the Western Isles Of Scotland. What an absolutely top day out. I'm 29 and haven't raced or jumped competitively since my last school sports day 13 years ago, but it was so much fun - and it fulfilled a lifelong dream to compete in front of a crowd that had paid to get in (I was up there with work and a mate from there managed to get me entered for some events).

I jumped just under 18 feet in the long jump (to come 5th out of 6 - this against folk from proper athletics clubs) and managed 1.50m in the high jump (7th out of 16 - dead chuffed with that). But the highlight was the Visitor's One Lap Race. There were about 25 entrants and I won! I over-took the leader on the last bend with a Steve Cram-like burst of pace to sprint down the home straight with the crowd of about 400 cheering. I even got my picture taken for the local paper. My prize - a botte of whisky - will be cherished!

And, of course, now when I'm at the Olympic Stadium watching my, um, fellow athletes I'll be able to nod sagely like I know what I'm talking about...


Isle Of Mull Highland Games

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Congrats to Dean! Congrats to me!

Congrats to Dean Macey, the British decathlete who managed to get the Olympic qualifying standard this weekend at his first decathlon in three years (since he finished 4th in the 2001 World champs he's had injury nightmares). Being a lad who grew up with Daley Thompson being the king of the decathlon world, I've always been a big fan of the event. We deliberately booked tickets for the last day of the decathlon at the games, so now, hopefully, we can see Macey on the podium by the end of that day.

Actually, I'm competing in some games myself on Thursday - the Highland Games on the Isle of Mull up in Scotland. I'm competing in the long jump with a mate of mine up there who's challenged me. Can't wait. I'll let you know how I get on.

In other news, I got engaged at the weekend, which is an amazing feeling. The marriage - to my Greek girlfriend who lives in the UK - will most likely be in Athens next year. Perhaps we could have the reception in the Olympic Stadium - the landscaping should all be finished by then...!

Friday, July 16, 2004

Blummin' heck, the Games start 4 weeks today...

...which is quite a scary thought considering the amount of work I've got to do between then and now. The problem with booking three weeks holiday is that you have to do so much extra work before you go and even more extra work to catch up when you get back. Still, looking forward to it. In A Big Way.

More comments have come in - one from Kevin from Aussie running site Now very kindly he's put me as a link on his site, but then he starts giving me editorial tips! Apparently he wants celeb-spotting, posts from a woman's point of view and, he says, 'a bit of Yankee-bashing'. Well, I'll happily let you know if I see any famous folk and will ask my girlfriend to help me get in touch with my feminine side in order to send views from a feminist standpoint.

But Yankee bashing? Surely that would only be fair if something came up which deserved to be criticised? I'm not about to start campaigns against whole countries. I'm off to see the US basketball team at the Games and I really hope I see the game played as well as it possibly can be. And my MLR (that's Most Loyal Reader for those not paying attention) is American (or at least based in America) and I have no desire whatsoever to bash her. So, thanks, but I think I'll pass on that last one Kev.

Monday, July 12, 2004

I Got Comments! Yankee-Brit doesn't make it to Games!

So the big news first. As you'll see below, my shameless request for comments resulted in two - yes two! - comments. The first was from Kelly who is, officially, my Most Loyal Reader. She checks the site every couple of days and seems to like it, but isn't looking forward to the US commentary for the Games, which she says she 'detests'. My suggestion for Kelly the MLR is that she watches on TV and listens online to BBC Radio Five Live, who probably aren't quite as melodramatic ( The other comment comes from Darren who is running a very impressive Olympics Blog with an absolute shed load of news on it. Click on the comments thing below and you can click through to his site. Keep those comments coming!

The other big Olympic story is that the UK held its athletics trials for the games this weekend. An American chap called Malachi Davis turned up to run the 400m having only got his British passport (through his mother) on Thursday. He'd never set foot out of North America before landing on Friday, but promptly won his heat despite being the 28th best US 400m runner. Cue debate about how rubbish our sprinting has become and whether Malachi should be allowed to compete. Malachi didn't help himself to sound very British by comparing the Olympics to 'other big sporting events like The Superbowl and the World Series' (the difference being the whole world takes part in the Olympics!). But he came fourth in his final yesterday, so it doesn't look like he'll make it to the Games to represent Britain after all. Mr Storm meet Mr Teacup.

Friday, July 09, 2004

500 visitors! Not many comments!

Just looked at my counter - I've now had 500 visitors to (well, 509 to be exact). So thanks for coming. It seems to have picked up in the last few days actually, must be people looking for something to fill the gap left by Euro 2004!

The only problem is that no one really leaves comments. You're a shy bunch. So go on, say somethiing. Then we can have an Olympic debate which will make us all feel very grown up and intellectual. Deal?

Go on, just click the button below...

Naked Olympic action!

Yeah, thought that headline might get you reading. Shame on you. But it's true, there's been some naked Olympic action happening!

Academic Dr Stephen Instone got naked in the name of science, to race against other 100m runners dressed in lycra. He wanted to find out if being naked (like the original Olympians were) was better or worse. He came last, which may well tell its own tale.

Viewers in the UK will get to see Dr Instone's run in all its glory. His programme 'The First Olympian' is due to be broadcast on BBC Two on July 23.

Full story below...

BBC News: Academic recreates naked Olympics

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Congratulations Greece!

Can't believe they did it - but massive congratulations to Greece for their amazing victory in Euro 2004. To go into the tournament as 100-1 outsiders having never won a game in a major tournament and then win it?! That's proper fairytale stuff.

And now things are set up amazingly for the Games. Greece have proved they can perform at the highest level and now the Olympics are there to add further proof. I'm so, so pleased for them. They really deserved it too - don't let any one tell you a team that beat the hosts Portugal (twice), the holders France and the form team Czech Republic didn't deserve the trophy. The defended strongly, scored goals in every game and worked and worked and worked.

Ella ellatha, as they say!


We booked some more tickets...

Hey up

Just booked some more tickets to the Games - they've recently made the men's hockey draw, so we've bagged a couple of tickets to see GB's final game (against Pakistan). Very cheap too at ten euros. In fact, can I say that tickets are all very reasonably priced so if you were thinking of going to the Games but were being put off because you thought it must cost a fortune, then, well, you were wrong and you should go! We've got tickets for ten other events - deep breath, tennis, football, volleyball, beach volleyball, basketball, horse jumping, badminton, archery, cycling and athletics - and we've got most of those tickets for between fifteen and thirty euros. Which is pretty darned good considering this is top international sport we're talking about. Agreed? Good.

Weirdly enough, flight prices seem to be coming down too. When we booked our flights from London to Athens in February, the cheapest we could find anywhere was through easyJet for £310 each. I looked today for a mate who's thinking of coming out for a few days and British Airways flights have gone way down - you can get a return in the middle of the Games for about £150. Easyjet were down too, and the same journey we'd booked was down to £250. Mad thing was that I rang easyJet up to grumble that the price has gone down even though their adverts always say 'book early to take advantage of our lowest fares' and they immediately sorted me out with a £120 credit note! Easyjet offering refunds? Greece in the Euro2004 final? A Russian 17 year old winning Wimbledon? Strange times indeed...

Friday, July 02, 2004

Go Greece!

Really, really chuffed that Greece have made it to the final of Euro 2004 (they deserved it too, having completely marked the best Czech players out of the game).

Hopefully this means the country will be buzzing for the Games. Or perhaps, as The Independent newspaper put it this morning, 'The prospects of the Olymipic Games sites being ready on time sharply diminished last night as Traianos Dellas launched three days of celebrations across the Pan-Hellenic world'. Ha!

Good luck for the final lads...