Robin at the archery
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.
We've just got back from the archery at the amazing Panathinaiko Stadium - which was last used for the Olympics at the first modern one in 1896. As you'll see from the picture above, it was an amazing place to watch it - felt really special.
The actual sport was way more exciting than I expected. It was the first round of what's a seeded knock out competition, narrowing it down from 64 to 32. There were two contests at a time - with four archers. - and whoever got the highest score out of each match up went through to the last 32.
As with the basketball, they were keeping people well entertained in the gaps between competition. At one point they showed the archery contest from Disney's 'Robin Hood' on the big TV screen, at another they got everyone clapping and dancing by playing 'Zorba The Greek'. There was good, informative commentary (in English) too.
The final pairings on included a Greek against an Indian. Although the old stadium wasn't by any means packed (it was only the first round, afterall) there was great home support for the young Greek. They each get 18 arrows in sets of 3 and it ended up coming down to the Greek needing one point with his last arrow to win. You could see the pressure beating down on him, but he did it (although his score of 5 was his worst score of the 18 arrows he shot). The whole place went nuts and he was beaming like he'd won the gold.
An annoying thing happened outside the stadium though. A man from a major US TV network (not the one with the rights to the Games) stopped us and said he wanted an interview with someone who'd watched the archery. I said, yeah, no problem. But then, before we did the interview, he said, wasn't it a terrible place to have the archery, because it was quite empty? I said no, I thought it was amazing, a beautiful place and of course it wasn't a sell out, because it was only the opening round.
But he was insistent - 'Shouldn't it have been a smaller venue? Isn't it pointless having it in such a big one?'. I said I disagreed and that there was a great atmosphere when the Greek won. He said, 'She won a medal?' So he was compiling a critical report and yet he didn't even know a) that it was men's archery or b) that it was the first round of a lengthy competition so obviously no medals were being won.
By this stage it was clear they didn't want to interview me afterall - obviously they didn't want someone who thought the old stadium was a great venue. I told him I thought it was a real shame that they were taking such a negative stance and if they were looking for someone to just slate the Olympics I wasn't their man. He shrugged. We left. Isn't it sad that they'd rather go with a negative angle than interview a happy spectator who's just really enjoyed himself?