Category: Sport

Swim for Gold

swim fail

Rio, we’re going to Rio. Not really, can’t afford it and term 3 has just started, but via the wonders of digital TV, come Saturday we will all be glued to the tellybox at odd hours of the day, cheering on people we’ve never heard of in sports we’ve never heard of . C’mon!

This great event will also bring around the husband/wife 4 year Olympic argument. It is also a nationalistic argument between Great Britain and Australia.

My argument is this:

The only reason Australia appears to do well at the Olympics is because of swimming and the totally ludicrous amount of strokes and distances which offer medal opportunities.

To me, track and field was always the centrepiece of this sporting extravaganza, as it was in ancient Greece. And of those disciplines it was always the running which was the blue ribbon event. Now if we were to offer equal medal distribution, then swimming, like running would only be one stroke – freestyle, the one most people do. Scrap breaststroke, butterfly and backstroke and reduce the amount of distances which offer medals.

Now before you start shouting at me, even Australia’s own national broadcaster, the ABC agrees with me:

“Take swimming. Freestyle is by definition the fastest stroke of them all, because freestyle swimmers can swim however they like (though almost all of them do a version of the “front crawl” … because that’s the fastest).

So why do we celebrate the self-imposed limitations of other swimming events?

If you’re the best in the world at swimming backwards, you get a gold medal. But if you’re the best in the world at running backwards, you have to make do with being a curiosity on YouTube and going in the Guinness Book of Records alongside the person with the longest fingernails.”

Source: Michael Collett: Rio 2016: Five ways the Olympics aren’t always fair – http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-04/five-ways-the-olympics-arent-always-fair/7685322

See, I’m not just a whinging Pom, I have the ABC behind me.

ian thorpe

Swimming is great fun, don’t get me wrong, but it has way too much Gold swinging from its kneck. It’s a pretty exclusive and elite discipline. Everyone can run, but not everyone can swim. Usually you need access to great community facilities to learn how to swim and to get the right coaching. If you want to run, just walk out the door and you’re good to go.

Sure let’s keep swimming in the Olympics but let’s scrap the crap and have one stroke and limit the amount of distances.

I now declare the Rio Olympiad open. Bring it on Australia.

 

 

Exercise the brain.

brain

Want the ultimate six-pack?  Big defined guns to impress the ladies? The Adonis beach bod? Well, you’re wasting your time reading this then, I haven’t a clue and I’m not some pop-up in your news feed which will tell you the top-five ways to get ripped. I am here though to chat about how important exercise is to your health, both physical and mental health that is.

I’ve always loved sport, it was something I was reasonably good at. Not a stand-out but certainly competitive. After I left school, I use to fit in a few games of hockey (the grass kind, not the psychotic ice kind) post hangover with a few mates but it was never serious and my beer belly happily grew throughout my twenties. It was not until I moved to Brighton, on the south coast of England, that I started to be a gym regular. My main motivation for hitting the cardio and weights then was that I weighed almost 95 kilos and 20 smokes a day made me sound like a wheezing bagpipe.

10 years on, I find myself in Sydney. I’ve ditched the gym (boring) and I now attend a TRX class 4 to 5 times a week at crack of fart in the AM. I really enjoy it. It’s 45 minutes of pain and it is bloomin early in the morning but by the time I get home, I’m awake, pumped and raring to go – much to the annoyance of sleepy eyed children and my doona loving misses. Oh and I now only weigh 80 kilos and I’ve dropped the ciggies so my lungs almost function as normal.

So, I’m probably the fittest I’ve been since 1982 and that’s a good thing. No one can argue that exercise isn’t good for you, especially as you get older. It keeps the joints functioning and the heart pumping. I do, of course, have a myriad of niggles and complaints but that does not stop me from putting on ye olde active wear of a morning.

But the real benefit is in my head. I certainly find that if I don’t exercise regularly, I can be stressed and irritable. I can also be lethargic and rather gloomy in my outlook. That short hard burst in the morning really gets my juices flowing and my energy levels up. The trusty endorphins kick in and I find clarity of thought and purpose for my day. If you think I’m talking horsedoodoo, then have a quick squiz on Google and you will see that there are pages and pages devoted to the benefits of sweaty fun for your aching brain.

Exercise-Cause-Happy

I doubt very much that I’ll ever have that six-pack or the huge guns all those dudes on the beach have, but I can keep up with my sporty kids, I can walk long distances and I’m sure I could dance the night away (if my moves weren’t so much like an embarrassing dad). It can certainly be hard to drag yourself out of your warm duvet pit of a cold wintry morning but I can assure you that if you make the effort and stick with it, not only will your body thank you but your mind will bless you. Now, give me ten and no slacking.

 

SNOB

Image

Hi, my name’s Ben and I am a Snob. I’ve probably always known that and being brought up in a very middle-class environment in the UK it’s almost a requirement. Saying that I also hold pretty liberal views (not the right-wing liberal party views of Australia) and try to understand both sides of an argument before taking a position but after last weekend I am seriously going to have to reassess my snobby value set.

The family and I have just spent one of those near perfect weekends that all parents and kids hope for. Thanks to the other, we had the opportunity to go to the Gold Coast (Queensland, Australia) and enjoy VIP access at the V8 race (think souped-up road cars) and whilst there visit some of the theme parks littered around this area of Australia.

When I knew we were going my snob alert went into def-con 1. I’m meant to be the cultured, well-read, inner city suburbanite who looks witheringly down at these activities but the Kids were keen and I’d never been so I thought what the-hey. The Gold Coast is one huge beach and holiday play ground. Us middle-class types tend to talk of it with derision much preferring some gee-gi little beach house with swanky cafes and pointless knick-knack boutiques. The problem was, I really liked it. Sure we stayed in a very well-appointed apartment, but the beach was gorgeous, the vibe was friendly and in our area of the beach we had some very nice eateries. Snob assumption number 1 obliterated.

My other big snobby opinion was about the V8 race. In Australia this is perceived as a very working class sport enjoyed by blokes in singlets, long goatee beards and with names like Brett and Baz. The reality is that it is a working class sport, verging on a religion for some, but it is bloody exciting. The speed, smell and roar of these highly engineered machines bombing it around a very tight city circuit was thrilling. I couldn’t believe how much I enjoyed it. The irony is that I don’t really enjoy driving myself and will do most things to avoid having to do it. This however was ripper. Top fun and another snobby assumption debunked.

The Theme parks were just as I expected. They are the same as any you would find in the States or Europe. They were well run, clean and not to busy with a good range of rides. I’ve always loved a good roller-coaster and the kids had a ball so no snobbery here.

There is one other area of my life where I have had to readdress my snobbery. Friends from southern England will howl in derision but since living in Oz I rather like Rugby League. For the uninitiated, in England you either like league or Rugby Union not both. It’s based on a north/south divide and rarely do you cross the line. When I came here I was very much in the union camp and held my nose very high in the air with regard to league but their has been a slow creep from vague interest to mutual respect to genuine pleasure in the game. I’ve brushed away 40 years of inbuilt geographic snobbery and looked at the game anew to see it for what it is – fast, athletic, aggressive and non-stop. I wouldn’t say I was a devotee but I now follow a team with good interest and will happily go to a game with honest excitement.

Some people, mostly my English friends, will say I’ve gone native and turned my back on our much-loved prejudices but when you have lived somewhere, other than your country of birth, for a while you start to see things for what they are and not what you think they might be. The reason V8, Rugby League and the Gold Coast are so popular is that they are great fun. No, they are not sophisticated and witty, but what they are is good honest entertainment with no airs and graces and I for one am a big fan.

Image

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, oi, oi, oi!!

socceroos 2

I’m obviously not a prolific blogger as it has been a month since my last regurgitation. My studies have to take priority in my ‘my time’ allocation and only then do I find a minute or two for a bit of a spout. Of course, I also need to have something to write about.

I was going to do a little piece about our cracking adult break in Honkers, but it’s been a couple of weeks since then and I’ve forgotten most of which came to pass. I will say though that we had a thoroughly splendid time, the highlight for me was the discovery of  my nirvana – Sneaker Street in Kowloon. Let’s just say that several pairs of fine footwear were purchased at a competitive rate and I apologize to those fine runners I had to leave behind.

The main thrust of things today is two-fold – bonding and rivalry. On Tuesday of this week, the sport, his best buddy, myself and best buddies dad were lucky enough to witness live a bit of Australian sporting history. The Socceroos (Australia’s odd name for their football team) were playing Iraq in a World Cup qualifier. They needed to win to book their passage to the finals in Brazil next year. A loss would of meant a potential play-off or worse still – elimination.

Now the son and I have been to professional sporting events before and have thoroughly enjoyed them but this was different, this meant something, this meant seeing my sons hero’s achieve and succeed for their/his/my country. I don’t want to come over all slushy about this as it wasn’t a slushy moment but being able to provide your child with these memorable life experiences, a moment he can look back on when he’s is older with fondness gives me a great fillip. Oh, forgot to mention, they won 1 nil and booked their passage to Brazil. It was great, full of contentious moments, nerves and near misses. We shared it all together and loved it.

That brings me to my second point – rivalry. You will note from my last paragraph that I now consider Australia ‘my country’ as well. I’m still a pommy bastard but I’m now an Australianised pommy bastard. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t forgotten from whence I came. I’m a proud Englishmen and as such, still support them in all their sporting endeavors. Over the next few months we have back to back Ashes series (cricket, Aus V Eng, for the uninitiated) and on Saturday we have the first rugby union test between the Wallabies (Australia) and the Lions (Britain & Irish). I can’t wait and I can tell you now that I will be willing, no screaming the poms on to beat Australia. Australians, with the exception of my wife, totally get this. This is old, hard, fierce rivalry. It’s a part of national pride and bragging rights between the two nations and is done in a great sporting manner. But when it comes to football and particularly , the Socceroos, I’m firmly in Aussie’s corner. Historically the rivalry in this sporting code has been limited, added to this is the love and passion my son shows for the sport. I want the Socceroos to succeed, I want to have a sport my kids and I can share without the banter of them and us, I want something we can jointly be proud of and I also want them to have something to aspire to. The Socceroos (not in my life time anyway) are very unlikely to win the World Cup but they will always be competitive and they will always keep going to the final whistle unlike their prima-donna counterparts in the England team who expect to win and persistently fail to do so. It’s a great thing to be involved, all be it at a grass roots level, in a sport which is growing and improving every year. Bring on Brazil. Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi !!

White Bread Weekend

Image

So the better is away bettering herself oddly enough and that has left little old me and the lads to our own devices. Whoop whoop! (Oh, that didn’t come out quite right. I don’t mean Whoop whoop the wife’s not around but Whoop whoop lets have us some fun – just so we are clear and you don’t start thinking divorce proceedings are imminent).

Anyway this is not a rare occurrence, the better being away that is, but we have managed to make an unconscious decision between us male members of the family that we would just hang out like teenagers, watch DVD’s, eat some high salt, high fat foods and have a laugh.

And so that’s how our great boys weekend has unfolded. We’ve had successful soccer experiences for both boys, the sun has been shining brightly, there has been minimal tears, and we have managed to have white bread as a core ingredient for every meal!

Bad Dad? Nah not really, I’ve managed to get some decent veg and fruit down them and they are not going to blow up like a Biggest Loser contestant anytime soon. They know that weekends like this are rare and broccoli will be back on the menu for Monday nights dinner but sometimes not doing the right parent thing is just the right parent thing to do. Kids need to know that Dads (& Mums) are not all eat this, tidy that, don’t put your finger in that and that sometimes they can lower the rules barrier and let things run at a bit more freestyle.

We’ve had a great weekend and the quality time I have spent with my boys just reminds me why being a parent can be so special and that for all the endless chores there is so much which is fantastic and amazing.

OK, must fly, the little shits have started kicking lumps out of each other. Bless.

Pushy Parent, Proud Dad

OK, so I’ve touched on the fact the the sport, loves sport, in particular football (soccer for those who think throwing an egg shaped ball constitutes football). As a sport loving dad, I’m thrilled that he loves playing competitive sport. If I’m honest, when I knew we were going to have a baby boy I did have fantasies of football in the park and cricket on the beach and sharing and bonding over the passion of team games. This has all come true and I’m thrilled, what I didn’t expect was that I would be a pushy parent and a side-line shouter. People who know me, know that (besides when I’m drunk) I’m not a shouty sort of guy, if anything I’m pretty quiet, especially in uncomfortable social situations so imagine my surprise and the betters, when it turned out that I was one of those parents I so often sneered at in my middle-class wanky way. I’m not hard core, like Andy Murray’s mum, but because he shows such passion, focus and talent I can’t but help him and sometimes this causes me too step over the mark. I do feel their is place for a bit of a push and a kick up the bum, but it should be balanced with generous support and encouragement.

I am having to train myself to rein it in and keep my vocal gob shut when games are on. I’m getting better but sometimes I do let myself down. Saying that,as the sport matures and gets better with his skills and understanding their is less and less I have to tell him. I imagine this will be a natural process and he will soon be teaching me stuff about the game.

What provoked this confession was the culmination of 2 Futsal (indoor football) competitions his teams were in this week. The first comp, played earlier this week, we had gone the whole season undefeated and we cemented the title with a 9-1 win – he scored 4. That was great but it was all a bit of stroll. Needless to say I was a proud Dad.

This afternoon (Saturday) his other team had only come 2nd in the regular season so had to endure a playoff against the 3rd placed team. The winner would go on to play the league number ones for the outright title. Game 1 – Back of the net – his team won 6-2 – he scored all 6. Well proud. The final was even more of a cracker – we won 7-2 – he scored 4. Awesome, bloody bloody awesome.

I can’t tell you what a feeling it is to watch a child of yours excel under pressure and come through for the team in such an emphatic way. He made me so very very proud. Sometimes a push or two works but if you don’t balance that and let them learn organically and by making mistakes then you run the risk of turning them off the game they love and probably down a avenue you don’t want them to go down. I shall determine to did a little less push and a lot more pull.  God it was great to watch.

Dope

ImageAs a Pom (the lovely name Aussies call us Brits), this should be a wonderful day of schadenfreude. It appears that one of the things Australia is famous for globally, Sport, is rotten to the core – illicit drugs, performance enhancing drugs, organized crime and match-fixing – appear to be rife. As a kid growing up in England, and being constantly thrashed by Australia in every sporting code, this should be a happy day. No longer can they preach hard fair play – they are all off their nuts on Benzedrine and cocaine! No longer can that unlikely underdog result be trusted but, and its a big but, I am not happy.

My eldest son, lets call him, the sport, has genuine ambitions to be a professional sportsmen ( I know I’m his Dad, but he is showing signs of serious promise in Soccer and Cricket). He is raised here and thinks of himself as 100% Australian. His dream is to represent his country. This scandal, which has been unmasked, makes me fear that he will become disillusioned with it all and will send a message to him that the only way to the top is through, doping, cheating and greed. Do I really want him to aspire to this?, Is he just heading towards disappointment? Sport used to be the wholesome pursuit, now its just a dirty scabby mess! I have to believe that good will out and that there are decent fair sportsmen out there that my son can aspire to. It’s his passion and I dare not take that away from him.

Maybe Sportsmen here need to have better pay and better education about the potential traps, either way it’s a terribly sad chapter for sport, Aussie or Pom. B