My earliest recollection of the Olympics is 1976 in Montreal when I was 10 years old. Team GB won 13 medals in total and probably the most famous was David Wilkie winning gold in the Men’s 200m breaststroke. Moving on on four years to the Soviet Union as it was known then and it was another famous swimmer Duncan Goodhew who took gold in the 100m breaststroke. Five years later I would be lucky enough to meet him on a weekly basis as he used to do a guest appearance at the Butlins I was working at as a Redcoat. We also used to get from the World of Judo, Brian Jacks who won a bronze at the 1972 games in Munich. You may remember him more from the TV show ‘Superstars’. That continued when I joined Pirates, firstly through the artists, we’ve had a few Olympians from around the World with the most recognisable being Francesca Fox who played Captain Scarlett and was part of the GB Rhythmic Gymnastic team at the London Olympics. Then through our Charity Premieres and people who’ve visited us on holiday. These include the swimmer Sharron Davies, the 100m runner Linford Christie, Gymnast Louis Smith and probably the most famous, diver and newly crowned gold medalist Tom Daley. To be honest a more down to earth and nicer guy you would struggle to meet. Tom has been to Pirates on many occasions and despite his fame he would stop for anyone to do a photo. I was so pleased for him that at his fourth Olympics he has finally won a gold medal. Diving is a brutal sport and like all events it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to reach the top. Lots of reality series have been created where celebrities try to master a sport but the one that didn’t really work was, if you can remember it was ‘Splash’. The celebrities performed each week in front of a panel of judges and a live audience in an Olympic-size diving pool with the result each week partly determined by public vote. Gabby Logan and Vernon Kay presented the show, whilst Tom was the expert mentor to the celebrities. The show received generally poor reviews from critics after its premiere, including “utterly awful”, “a new low for television”and “probably the worst programme ever screened in primetime”. There you have it in a nutshell, to become a sports man or woman takes years of practice and cannot be recreated in 5 minutes for a TV programme.
After watching the diving final in particular, don’t let anybody tell you the Olympics isn’t worth watching. I admit the opening ceremony wasn’t that great and lacked the atmosphere of a crowd. But since then the sports I’ve seen have been thoroughly enjoyable and the excitement for me is definitely there despite the lack of crowds.
There are some sports I wouldn’t normally watch but when the Olympics are on I’m transfixed. They include rowing, swimming, diving, taekwondo, BMX riding and of course I love the athletics.
Other sports I wouldn’t have in the Olympics include tennis, football, golf, basketball and baseball. The thing is different sports around the World have different meanings to different countries. As you know I love football but i haven’t watched a game yet but in South America they value it as high as the World Cup.
New sports this year are surfing, skateboarding, karate and sport climbing. Some you might question but the IOC (International Olympic Committee) are looking to attract a younger audience. At the next Olympics in Paris they’ll be break dancing and this week I spoke with Paul Hamilton the personal trainer who works out of the Shambhala Gym in Santa Ponsa. He told me that Thai Boxing will be at the next Olympics too. As a former Thai boxer and President of the UK Muay Thai Federation, Paul has been negotiating with the IOC and finally his dream has become a reality.
Lots of Olympians have trained here in Mallorca in recent years as we have great weather and amazing facilities. Unfortunately when I spoke to Matthew 0’Connor at the Best Swim Centre in Colonia San Jordi he said that because of Covid and travel restrictions there hadn’t been as many come as usual. But many of the swimmers had been before Covid and in previous years he’d organised the team GB divers training camps in Palma at Son Hugo. Other sports I’m aware of that have had countries training for the Olympics previously are cycling, sailing, gymnastics, tennis, boxing, Athletics and I’m sure there’s more. It’s always been something I think the authorities should seize on and promote more. Particularly in the low season.
The message that was pushed at the London 2012 Olympics was to ‘Inspire a generation’ and quite a few of the athletes competing in these games drew their inspiration from London. Don’t let clowns like Piers Morgan tell you that a Gold Medal is all that matters. It takes years of sacrifice, hard work and dedication to even make it to the Olympics, let alone get a medal. You can see what it means to the athletes, their trainers and their families after they’ve competed. Remember that most of them haven’t been able to train in normal circumstances because of the pandemic and after building up to it last year it was cancelled. Which means they’ve had to retrain and be ready for this year. They should be applauded loudly not derided as most of us mere mortals of which I am definitely one couldn’t get anywhere near their achievements.
Take care everyone and enjoy your Weekend!
Richie presents the Radio One Mallorca Breakfast show Monday to Friday 07.30-11.00am on 93.8fm in Mallorca and 102fm in Calvià, online at www.radioonemallorca.com on mobile through their free App for IPhone & Android, The Tunein Radio App, iTunes, the Spanish TDT TV service and all smart speakers. If you can’t hear him on the radio then you’ll find him working at Pirates Adventure the islands number one night out and every now and again he may make an understudy appearance!
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