Many of us on the Gameological crew like the Olympics. Eurogamer’s Ellie Gibson, on the other hand, does not care for them (or so she claims). Naturally, then, we’ve invited her to be the site’s sole correspondent for the London 2012 Olympics. She does live there, after all. During the two weeks of competition, Ellie will be providing periodic updates to her running diary of the Games, in a feature we’re calling Letters From London.
Tuesday, August 7—Men’s 10,000 meters; men’s 100 meter sprint
Well, thank goodness for that. Britain’s moment of Olympic madness seems to have passed. The opening ceremony may have been good, the transport network may be holding out, Team GB may be winning loads of medals, but we’ve still managed to find something to complain about.
It’s all thanks to British Olympic Association chief Lord Moynihan. He’s been pointing out that more than half the British competitors who took to the podium at the Beijing Olympics went to private school. That means 50 percent of our medals were won by 7 percent of the population. In short, the people winning are too posh, according to Moynihan—or to give him his actual full title, The Lord Colin Berkeley Moynihan, 4th Baron.
The implication that Britain is still operating according to some archaic class system of hereditary privilege and wealthy advantage is, of course, ridiculous—as I thought to myself while watching an interview with Prince William, a man who will one day inherit the right to become Britain’s unelected head of state, and whose wedding I paid for. During the interview, William revealed that his brother Harry has a share in a racehorse called Usain Colt. I might have actually enjoyed this rather witty joke, had I not been busy clutching my sides while remembering that hilarious time he dressed up as a Nazi.
Aside from the odd outburst of uncontrollable republican rage, I am enjoying the Olympics more than ever. This is mainly down to the BBC’s brilliant decision to show the reaction of the pundits in the commentary box. Normally they are only ever seen calm and composed, dispensing insightful truths about giving it 110 percent while nodding sagely at each other. But after Team GB’s Mo Farrah won the 10,000 meters, the BBC let viewers peek behind the curtain. There they were, champion heptathlete Denise Lewis, legendary hurdler Colin Jackson, and four-time gold medal winner Michael Johnson, punching the air and jumping around like, well, everyone else in Britain.
Even better, however, was their reaction to the result of the men’s 100-meter sprint. Jackson got so over-excited he forgot the name of a man who ranks among the most famous athletes in the world, initially substituting “whatsisname” before settling on “the big man.” Lewis performed an amazing mime in the direction of Johnson that was clearly designed to politely and subtly convey the message “IN YOUR FACE,” several dozen times. John Inverdale did a high-five. He is 54 years old.
Michael Johnson ignored them all. He sat there stony faced, and then pretended to have something really important to write on his clipboard. Perhaps he was drawing a line through a few names on his Christmas card list.
What’s great about these pieces of footage, apart from the fact they’re hilarious, is that they capture what the Olympics is all about—excitement, enthusiasm, and shouting friendly abuse at foreigners. That’s something the whole country can get behind. Now we just need something else to moan about.
(Olympic flame photo: The UK Department For Culture, Media, And Sport)