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The Olympics Wrap: Edition 2 – Let the Games begin

Opening Day
Let’s make one thing clear, this is a sports column. Opening and closing ceremonies – even if my mum likes them – are not sport.

Ok, if Pele lit the cauldron using a rolled up newspaper extruding from the cheeks of his buttocks, while continuously heading a ball, that’s probably worth a look. But instead Rio chooses Art Vandelay, the marathon running import/export guy.

To be fair, once the Olympics had done Nikki Webster suspended in mid-air like an Aaron Woods high-five, where else could they go? Have each country led in by a young kid from the Favelas carrying a dope plant?

Nice touch Brazil.

A quality response too from Australia, rocked this week by revelations that children’s numeracy and literacy standards are falling. Having the team wear their school uniform shows that the matter is being addressed seriously.

Aussie athletes dressed in their Rio opening ceremony uniforms

Rio crowd numbers are set to receive a late boost thanks to a charter flight from Australia, full of poor souls suffering at the hand of flesh-eating bacteria, the Buruli Ulcer, currently rampant in suburban Melbourne.

Sufferers are faced with an awful choice; leave it untreated and face certain death, or fend off the bacteria by fighting it with even more repulsive, putrid, virulent nasties, by dipping affected limbs into the waters of Guanabara Bay.

Australian ‘Dolphins’ assistant swim coach Michael Bohl aborts training and pulls team members from the Olympic training pool saying, “it started out nice but for some reason as the morning wore on the water got really soupy in that pool.”

One thing is becoming abundantly clear. Unlike the cricket in Sri Lanka, Australia is taking these Olympics a little too seriously. A little bit of soupy water? Really?

Instead of adding this to Kitty’s whinge-list, the Dolphins could easily have acclimatised the team via a few preliminary sessions at home, living the yellow dream, training in a pool full of kids. Or old ladies doing Aquacise.

Day 1
To everyone’s eternal relief, with respect to women’s football, some bona-fide action at last, including some good old-fashioned Australia versus New Zealand rivalry in men’s hockey.

Australia wins 2-1 after what appears, to the layman’s eye at least, to be a perfectly good Kiwi goal disallowed on the grounds of it being ‘dangerous play’. Yeah, like the whole sport isn’t dangerous?

Is this potentially the greatest trans-Tasman controversy since 1981’s underarm incident? Perhaps not; more your Australian badminton team blowing the ‘Black Cocks’ off the court at the last Oceania Badminton championships, in Tahiti.

Keiran Perkins writes a ripping column fearlessly rating Cate and Bronte Campbell as among Australia’s top medal chances. Looks like the days of Perkins surprising from lane 8 are well behind him.

The Campbell sisters and a couple of other hangers-on duly qualify fastest from the heats in the 4 x 100m freestyle relay. They smile like the charming girls they are.

Watch out for an emboldened Keiran to go out on a limb and predict Anna Meares a medal chance in his own event, the Keirin.

Ch 7 TV coverage launches the “Buzz from Brazil”, an unqualified success if the objective is to avoid showing live action and appeal to a numbskull demographic which doesn’t understand sport.

The Australian women’s rugby sevens team puts proud rugby nation Colombia to the sword, 53-0, in 14 minutes of dizzying action. The disparity in skill level, pace and body shape is stark. New Zealand look sharp as well, a juicy Day 3 medal clash looms large.

Riche Porte looks like a new man, free from the burden of carrying TJ Van Garderen around France for three weeks. Until he pops a chain on a cobbled section and it’s Le Tour all over again.

Porte recovers to rejoin the peloton, but then fails to negotiate a tricky descent and slams into a very solid kerb and well-placed safety barrier, collar-bone first. Remind me not to go in a lotto syndicate with that man.

After over 6 hours and 236kms, Belgian Greg van Avarmaet wins a brutal race, which sees 64 finishers from a field of 144.

Early signs for the TV coverage aren’t good. Heavily produced, in that aggravating way that makes much Australian ‘reality TV’ shows so unpalatable. Copious previews, recaps, updates and personalities, all squeezed in for a target audience deemed too illiterate to watch the action on their own terms.

All this mind before medalists start to eat up even more valuable screen time, paraded around on the hero conveyor belt.

Those of us invested in the cycling road race are left hanging when coverage gets punted to a non-HD secondary channel, just when the race enters the interesting phase. As ever, swimming is the Olympic’s schoolyard bully, demanding other kids hand over the best goodies from their lunch boxes.

Australian medical room condom update; original allocation 10,000, current stock, 9,607. Probably the men’s archery team, fresh from winning Australia’s first medal, a bronze, grabbing a handful each before going out on the tear.

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