London 2012 Olympics: Day Four – The Loser Takes it All

It’s one in the eye for the fans with all this cheating

Ahhh cheating. No matter what the sport there will always be someone out there willing to push the boundaries of what is acceptable. Whether it is subtle: a new doo-hickey on the Red Bull F1 cars that is ‘not against the rules but against the spirit of the rules’ or it is blatant: a Ben Johnson taking steroids just simply because he could; there will always be an alternative to training hard, looking after your body and building the best attack you can.

More on that in a bit but first I wanted to start on a softer note and go over some of the more successful parts of the day. I forgot to mention yesterday the drama at the Dome as the GB men’s gymnastic team put together a very impressive show to end their day on the podium. All that remained was a pommel horse display from the Japanese team and GB would know which colour the shiny metal would be round their neck. As the Japanese competitor came to dismount he slipped and fell making his landing off centre – for this he was deducted points. GB were silver. The crowd go wild.

Then the Japanese team protested and after a few minutes of deliberation the judges decided that it was a dismount attempt and gave him 0.7 back on his score, leapfrogging them from 4th to 2nd. The crowd got a bit grumbly but no matter, the boys in the team went wild. The first GB men’s gymnastics medal since the first time the Games were in London in 1908 when rope climbing was in the repertoire (think it still should be, I remember it being near impossible at school). Ukraine must feel the most hard done by as they went from a bronze to fourth without having to stand-up – a gut shot. Another silver was gained and there was a spot of nepotism at the Equestrian events as Princess Anne was handing out the medals to the teams, one of which was Team GB which contained her daughter. Which must have been fun. “Hi mum”

The biggest success of the night though was in the Aquatics centre…as usual. A handful of World and Olympic records were beaten but this time none from Ye Shiwen who took her second Gold medal of the Games to answer her critics, in particular the US coach John Leonard who branded her performance in the 400m individual medley as ‘not believable’. Well now she was back with a slower time but still faster than all the other ladies in the pool to claim another Gold medal and with a negative drugs test too. In this age of loud mouth athletes and sport stars, it is great to see this 16 year old girl answering her critics in the pool. Elsewhere the men’s competition was providing lots of interest.

This blog has been very focussed on women’s sports recently. Partly because they don’t get a fair shake of the stick in a sports arena at any other time of the year, partly because they are amazing athletes often times retiring from their sports to fulfil the biological urge of childbirth and motherhood and still come back and compete for the top honours. But that was yesterday, today it is time for the men to shine. All eyes were on Michael Phelps and the 200m butterfly where he would take his 19th medal, making him the most successful Olympian ever surpassing the Soviet gymnast, Larisa Latynina. Now while Phelps is amazing it is hard to compare him with other athletes properly. While someone like Victoria Pendelton or Ben Ainslie might be the best Olympian ever we will never really know as they can only compete for 3 medals at every games while Phelps can go for 8 each time. Not to take away from him but it does have a ‘law of large numbers’ return on it.

However, while he did succeed in claiming his 19th medal he was not the main draw in the pool that night. 20 year old Chad le Clos took his first ever Olympic gold for South Africa and would have been shocked when he looked left and saw Michael Phelps leaning over to say “Well Done”. Cue a meltdown on the podium and, honestly, well done to him. Well done to Phelps as well not only for his unbelievable success but for his magnanimous acceptance that his night of success was to be shared with this young man. If you were wondering Phelps now totals 15 Gold, 2 Silver and 2 Bronze. Show-off.

Before I move on I want to put a mention in for the swimming commentators on the BBC Olympic channels. I have yet to find out who they are but they have made an already exciting sport even more fun with their wit and humour and they truly are making the Olympics come alive for me (or at least the Olympic swimming anyway). [UPDATE: They are Andy Jameson and Adrian Moorhouse. I will seek these men out for more commentary gold in the future]

Right now we get to the meat of the cheat. First from the Japanese women’s footballers who admitted that they were sandbagging and playing for a draw in their final group game against South Africa so that they would not win the group and have to move from Cardiff to Glasgow to play their quarter-final. Instead they now get to remain in the Welsh capital and have extra time to train. Also taking advantage from the new group system in place in Badminton (mentioned in my Day One review) were the women’s teams from China and South Korea. Wang and Yu met Jung and Kim in the final group game, both duos knowing that a loss would put them second in the group and hand them an easier passage via Iran to the Gold play-off. They tried serving into the net, dropping serves, over-hitting shots or just plain not going for the shuttle. At one point the umpire told them it would be disqualification if they didn’t straighten up and fly right.

This didn’t prevail, they both tried to be the biggest loser and in the end the crowds were the biggest losers. Some of the fans in those seats will have paid hundreds of pounds for those tickets and the badminton should have provided the excitement for one of the best days-out of their lives – a trip to the Olympics, a chance to feel the atmosphere of the Games, a ticket to watch two of the best nations in the world at Badminton do battle. But it seems that the Olympic motto “Faster Higher Stronger” could just read, “Slower, Weaker, Poorer” after seeing what tactics have done to the Olympic spirit. In a Games designed around peace and fair play, and in an age where drugs cheats are becoming less and less (certainly compared with the East German and Soviet competitors of the 70’s) maybe the IOC could have been forgiven for thinking they were free of controversy and cheats. I guess the old (adapted) adage is true – “Make something cheat-proof and someone will make a better cheat”.

Check out the current medal table below. If you want to get involved with the discussion please feel free to leave a comment or to find me on Facebook (TheOnlyMoxey) or Twitter (@theonlymoxey).

Gold Silver Bronze Total
China 13 5 5 23
USA 9 8 4 21
Japan 1 4 8 13
France 4 3 4 11
South Korea 3 2 3 8
Germany 2 3 1 6
Russia 2 2 2 6
Australia 1 4 1 6
Italy 1 3 1 5
Romania 1 2 2 5
Great Britain 0 2 2 4
Canada 0 0 4 4
Kazakhstan 3 0 0 3
Brazil 1 1 1 3
Ukraine 1 0 2 3
Poland 0 2 1 3
South Africa 2 0 0 2
Netherlands 1 1 0 2
Slovenia 1 0 1 2
North Korea 1 0 1 2
Colombia 0 2 0 2
Mexico 0 2 0 2
Hungary 0 1 1 2
Georgia 1 0 0 1
Lithuania 1 0 0 1
Egypt 0 1 0 1
Chinese Taipei 0 1 0 1
Sweden 0 1 0 1
Thailand 0 1 0 1
Denmark 0 1 0 1
Cuba 0 1 0 1
Norway 0 0 1 1
Serbia 0 0 1 1
Uzbekistan 0 0 1 1
Azerbaijan 0 0 1 1
Andorra 0 0 1 1
Mongolia 0 0 1 1
India 0 0 1 1
Slovakia 0 0 1 1
New Zealand 0 0 1 1
Quatar 0 0 1 1

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