What a Games. Even Australians are having to admit that their cherished claim to have hosted the friendliest, best organised and most picturesque modern summer Olympics has been undercut by London 2012.
Your correspondent had the privilege of attending three events – football, hockey and beach volleyball – and each one was characterised by bonhomie and camaraderie, on and off the field of play. From my vantage point on the sofa, some of the performances from athletes like David Rudisha, Usain Bolt and the Bahamian 4x400m relay team were matched only by the epic feats of Team GB heroes such as Mo Farah, Chris Hoy, Ben Ainslie, Nicola Adams and the British rowers.
Given the feast of sport on show I was surprised to learn recently that only 26 sports were included in the program. I want more.
There’s been a campaign going for a few years pressing for the inclusion of squash. I think there are enough racquet/bat events in the Olympics already. Some have even suggested rugby sevens. Both of these sports work well in the Commonwealth Games and would offer realistic chances of further British medals. However, they probably don’t have the global appeal so vital in gaining Olympic status.
What we will have in Rio, of course, is golf. This seems pretty ridiculous, but it has been an Olympic sport before. As the Closing Ceremony was reaching its crescendo Rory Mac was coasting home in the US PGA. I believe this makes him the unofficial defending Olympic Champion in 2016.
However, if there were an event that surely deserves inclusion it’s one to determine who is the strongest of them all. Weightlifting has its purity of strength-assessment, and the shot put gauges who can best unleash their explosive power, but strength can be measured in so many ways and using a number of disciplines is the best way to capture its many facets. I’m clearly calling for some form of modern pentathlon for singlet-wearing descendants of Vikings who can normally only be seen on British Eurosport. Luckily, this already exists in the form of World’s Strongest Man.
Who doesn’t want to see Olympic recognition at last for modern-day Greek gods? The world needs to know who can most quickly haul a locomotive over ten yards with the bit between his teeth under the intense pressure of Olympic competition. Can you honestly tell me that London 2012 wouldn’t have been enhanced by seeing Terry Hollands in Team GB kit tossing kegs and carrying fridges? The mere thought of it is enough to evoke a pang of regret at what could have been.
There will be the inevitable association with doping but this is a chance in a lifetime to legitimise and clean up a sport too long cast to the margins. If Jacques Rogge is serious about creating a legacy from the Games he needs to capture this opportunity to bring these big-boned Atlases into the Olympic arena.