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  • Tokyo is just three hours behind New Zealand. This is pretty much the closest the Olympics have ever been to our time zone, with the exception of the Sydney Olympics back in 2000. It means I am getting to bed late, but I have the luxury of sleeping in too, so I’m not too exhausted!
  • We have a new cable TV box, that allows us to not only record a whole lot of things we might want to watch, but better still, we can replay anything on “catch-up” over the last three days, which means I can (and have) been watching almost every event I want to watch, and any event I don’t. And if I realise I’ve missed something, it doesn’t matter, I can race downstairs (before I hear or read the results) and watch the event as if it is live, even though it isn’t. That said, I still want to stay up to watch things as close to real-time as I can.
  • I’ve written elsewhere about the New Zealand Women’s Sevens, who were fast and skilled and ruthless on the field, and emotional and funny and genuine and loving off the field. Their interviews were what sports interviews should be. A memorable quote from one, after a disastrous first half in a semi-final, went, “there isn’t enough hand sanitiser in Japan to clean up that mess!” It’s so refreshing after so many years of hearing athletes say the same old things over and over again.
  • Frustration over a particular (very young, I think) interviewer who kept asking medal winners how they felt, and when they wouldn’t tell her, she’d just ask it again. Instead of asking whether the heat bothered them, were they worried about being beaten by fast-finishing second place-getters, why did they make their moves in the second leg when usually they’d wait till the third, etc etc. Yet she got a trip to Japan to do that! Sigh.
  • Yet another Olympics when I refuse to watch the Beach Volleyball because of the uniform requirements, feel sorry for the women (not just the gymnasts, watch the athletics) constantly tugging at their pants that don’t cover their butt cheeks, and wonder how the men feel about those very revealing clingy shorts.
  • I dislike the posturing, the aggression, the arrogance before and after performances. I understand that it might help some of them get better performances. But it is ugly. And they just look like jerks.
  • I spent all last evening (through to after 1 am) watching the Men’s High Jump, which was exciting and made me nervous for all of them, and then finished beautifully with tied winners. It went for over two hours, and yet I was glued to the TV. (Okay, I was finishing another tea cosy too.) I used to high jump – a little. So I love watching the technique, and I can vaguely recall the feeling of soaring over a (much lower) bar! Then I watched (a little delayed) the Men’s 100 semis and final, and rejoiced for Italy. It was a fabulous evening’s entertainment. I’m hoping to repeat that tonight, except that The Husband is having a business zoom call downstairs, I can’t go and interrupt him, and he’s been on it for 90 minutes already!
  • Watching the Olympics is an emotional time. I get nervous for the competitors before an event. I ache for those who had hoped to do better, who feel they’ve let people/their countries down, when just getting there is a major achievement. I love supporting the underdogs, the unexpected stand-out performers, and always cry when they are so overjoyed or surprised to have won, or placed, or simply scored a personal best. I rejoice at the camaraderie amongst the competitors. It gives me hope. And I think that’s what the Olympics are all about.

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I pretty much said it all four years ago, here and here, but there are a few things to add.

  • Google’s coverage of the Olympics was brilliant, from the detailed schedules letting me know when I could sleep and when I needed to wake up, to the minute by minute updates of the field events, with distances or heights, making it easy to keep track of the competitors and where they stood.
  • I love watching the long jump and the high jump, but I find it takes a bit out of me. I physically tense up as the athletes reach the take-off, and mentally leap with them, straining to propel them over the bar or further in the pit. I don’t quite throw with the athletes in the shot put or javelin, but almost.
  • Watching the triple jump reminded me of doing the triple jump at primary school, back when we called it the Hop, Step, and Jump, but in secondary school, the triple jump was only for boys, as it was considered to be too onerous or damaging for women’s hips or officials were worried that we would swoon between the Hop and Step or something. It has only been an Olympic event for women since 1996.
  • It was nice to see that the dignity my cousin’s daughter showed four years ago (when she was ousted from her place in the team by a legal technicality that had nothing to do with her) paid off this time, when for several days she became New Zealand’s media darling.
  • I applauded the advent of women athletes wearing the “boy short” style running pants, which looked so much more comfortable because they’re there to compete, not show off their bodies, and of course, I am still appalled at the variation in the uniform requirements for the beach volleyball players.
  • I now want to go to Rio, as I loved seeing the city – the rowing course was stunning, and the bonus was that the medal winners could watch their flags rise with the backdrop of the famous Corcovado peak and statue.

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Losing sleep

The alarm, a strumming guitar playing on my iPad, roused us from a deep sleep and weird dreams at 2.50 am, and we groaned as we contemplated the possibility of simply turning over and going back to sleep but even groggy as we were, we turned that option down, not wanting to miss the occasion, going through the usual pros and cons, weighing up the possibility of missing a great game, against a few more hours sleep, and so we made our way downstairs, arriving at the TV just in time to see the competition’s national anthem, and settled in for the next hour and a half of rugby action, never expecting that – after this year of a so-far perfect record of international tests – our All Blacks might torture us with a lack-lustre display, threatening to make history in a different way, with a first ever loss against Ireland, Ireland of all countries, a team (and not the only one) that has never beaten us in 108 years of test matches, although they always play with pride and strength and skill, cheered on by a crowd filled with passion, but still, a team and a record that always induces an over-confidence, more so in us (the supporters) than in our team, although I have to say that their performance in most of the game did tend to indicate that – even when they were 19 points down – they were playing with a certain dangerous complacency; a complacency that was only replaced with urgency and skill and dominance in the last minutes of the match, as Ireland had still not let up, their historic victory almost in their grasp, and the All Blacks, a team with an extraordinary record over the decades from this small country at the far reaches of the world, could sense humiliation looming (the gloating from Australia and England would be unbearable) and so at last, leaving it to the final minutes, they finally played the way we expect them to play, scoring the try they needed, and kicking the final goal (being gifted a second attempt after a wayward first attempt, by desperate errant Irish players), putting us into the lead at last, and then the whistle blew, ending the tension, the stomach-churning sense of doom that had been with me since ten minutes into the game, and as the first tendrils of light snaked across the sky, we went back to bed, more relieved than celebratory, but blissfully able to sleep.

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