Olympic Thoughts: Numero Uno

All these awards, well our Niche Cache Awards Of Sporting Excellence And Goodness got me in the Olympic mood. Seeing athletes appear out of their non-mainstream-media wilderness, reminding us all that they are also phenomenal athletes and are just as good at athletic pursuits as our rugby/rugby league/cricket/football/basketball/netball players truly gets me excited. And this is where I wish to begin my first Olympic thing.

The major reason I love the Olympics - besides it being the biggest sporting event on the planet - is that this is the domain of the low key superheroes of international sport and more importantly, kiwi sport. Whether it's Lisa Carrington and her canoe, Nick Willis and his running spikes or Lauren Boyle and her goggles, the Olympics is the domain of the unsung hero who thoroughly deserves to have the spotlight shined on them.

While I know this is incredibly unfair on these athletes, my interest in these sorts of Olympic athletes and their sporting pursuit is fairly close to nothing outside of the Olympics. Sure, if they are competing at a World Champs I might pipe up and it goes without saying that when the Commonwealth Games rolls around it's a similar case to the Olympics. 

I guess I'm just another silly mainstream kiwi then aren't I? I get lost in all the sports that we here at the Niche Cache get swallowed by, but I don't feel bad about this because for example I can watch multiple rugby league games back to back to back, whereas if you ask me to watch swimming races in the same way, I just wouldn't be keen. 

Personal preference ya know? You like what you like and there's nothing wrong with what you like - unless it's illegal or ridiculously weird and hurts other people.

But that's only a portion of why I don't follow these quintessential Olympic activities as much as other sports. My love of the Olympics stems from seeing these athletes compete every 4 years, not every weekend. You know that saying 'absence makes the heart grow fonder'? Yeah, well that's the case here.

I get genuinely excited to see our Olympians in action because competing at the Olympics is an opportunity that only a select few get to enjoy. Not only do you have to be in the upper echelon of your sport, you've also got to be at the right place and the right time, oh and Olympic medals define you as an athlete. In a 15-20 year sporting career - very generous -  athletes only get a few bites at the Olympic cherry, blink and you'll miss your opportunity but fail to manage yourself as an athlete and the opportunity to compete at another Olympics would have drifted by.

Just look at Queen Valerie. The Queen has endured constant injury woes since the London Olympics and we simply don't know if she's going to be able to once again put Aotearoa on the map in my favourite week of sport: Olympic athletics week. 

The history, built up since the previous Olympics adds to the stories for each athlete or each team and it only increases the pressure/anticipation. Hence I love it. 

I'm not a purist. Change and adaptation are facts of life. The Olympics though is and will always be about the events which revolve around the simplest forms of human movement and competition. Running, throwing, swimming etc, they get me the most excitement and as the years tick over, we're seeing the Olympics walk the fine line of adding to the spectacle and neglecting the core roots of the Olympics.

That in itself is interesting to watch as the Olympics moves with us into the future. What adds funk to the 2016 Olympics for us kiwis is that two of the three new events suit us down to the ground. Lydia Ko is the best female golfer on the planet, thus making her the face of golf around the world not only for ladies but also golf in general perhaps (?) and watching Princess Lydia lead this new relationship between golf and the Olympics is incredibly awesome. 

We've also got Sevens rugby which it goes without saying is a great opportunity for our wee nation. There's a reason why Sonny Bill Williams has decided to chase Olympic gold and this sums up my feelings about the Olympics nicely as an athlete like SBW has achieved a decent amount in his sporting career, but the opportunity to compete at an Olympics. Both the men's and women's teams will be fun to watch, usually we are the underdog in Olympic competition but with Ko and both Sevens teams there will be great pressure. Pressure that as kiwis, we should embrace and enjoy.

Sevens leads me to a final thought as the Olympics will put rugby in front of so many new eyeballs, attracting new fans and basically advertising rugby to a whole new audience. 
Instead of proper rugby being in the Olympics, there's Sevens. Instead of Test cricket possibly being in the Olympics, T20 cricket will be looked at. Does this cheapen the Olympics or the specific sport? Not for me, I want the Olympics to stay as the ultimate sporting event in the world the combines a wide range of sporting competitions and brings the world together at a level that non-sporting events struggle to do.

See you next time for some Olympic thoughts.