Last night I watched a breaststroke swimming heat and was swept up in the commentator's fervent narrative. He was concentrating on an Australian making up ground. I thought the Australian had won at race's end, but alas no, he came third. There were two in front of him. The caller eventually gave me those names, but it was the third place getter that we cared about, it was the Australian in the race that mattered.
I have to admit to being a sports purest. I follow a football team with a healthy dose of two eyed reality. I know when they are playing well and when they're not and when they're not I don't try and fool myself that they are any chance at season's end. But I love sport and only my football team leads me to be bias about hopes and results in the face of facts.
I love watching so many sports provided they're played well and to a high level. If they are I get an emotional high as the final result is reached. But the Olympics comes once every four years and for me the games bring out the best in human kind. The absolute purity of a competitor trying to gain a place on the top tier of the dias and claim the title as the very best in the world is something unmatched in most of life.
The Olympics are the culmination of four years of unbelievable hard work for a competitor that can all be undone in a second of lapsed concentration or missed form. That's why the Olympics are so special. That's why they are so exhilarating and so cruel.
I want to see an American win. I want to see a Chinese competitor win. The lowly represented countries lucky enough to have one world class athlete, whether that athlete is only good enough to qualify or win, is the story of triumph, of ability over financial support and opportunity that I want to see. That's not to take anything away from those who win from the privileged countries who have the facilities and finance to support the dedicated, it just adds to the drama that sometimes even the best trained, best funded and best coached can sometimes be placed behind an athlete with nothing more going for them than pure natural talent.
That's why I look forward to the Olympics and enjoy them as a special two weeks. I enjoy knowing the stories of all the athletes. I want to hear of the journey taken by the winner and for a moment enjoy their triumph. I certainly don't want a magnificent moment ruined by on overenthusiastic commentator who only has eyes for my own country's athletes. I don't want to hear the reasons why our sports people didn't win, while the extraordinary story of the winner's journey and ultimate triumph is ignored.
Pure unbiased sport will win every time. Save the parochial coverage for the moments that deserve it and let us enjoy the moments where other countries get to enjoy theirs.