Fashion Olympics…

olympicThe show-prayer fashion was everywhere this year. Why appeal to your maker in the changing-room or tunnel when you can do it front of millions? This is a special God, after all, a biased God, your own personal God who’s here for you, not the other blokes lining up beside you.

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Top knots were in for men this year. For women it was colour, all colours, and all manner of hair styles. The hairdressers must have done well, especially from the sprinters. Being an old harrier, I like having a go at sprinters, but I noticed that posing for male sprinters is no longer as fashionable as it used to be. Perhaps because Usain Bolt, poser supreme, put everyone in the shade. But he also introduced an element of self-mocking humour, which tends to make self-important posing look pathetic. Not that posing is going out of fashion; Reo organisers dragged sheepish looking hammer-throwers and shot putters into the act.

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The ladies, God bless them, continue to spend as much time preparing to look beautiful as they do on the warm-up track. And they are beautiful creatures, the men too. It’s so unfair; they have the athletic talent, wonderful bodies, teeth made in heaven and the rest of us . . . well, it’s just not right.

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Once the preserve of sailors and criminals, tattoos, which are either beautiful adornments or graffiti-like growths, depending on your point of view, were common this year, some sneaking out from the unlikeliest of places.

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Many athletes sported coloured plaster-like strips over (presumably) vulnerable parts of their bodies, no doubt in the belief shoulder strains and risky hamstrings would behave themselves if marked with a cross. Some were also wearing sleeves, presumably merely an honest fashion statement.

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Even more fashionable and persistently so, bikini type gear for women. Women I know are puzzled by this insistence on competing in what could be mistaken for underwear. “Those skimpy things    can’t be comfortable.” So why? Not all women competitors were slaves to this fashion, of course, which suggests it’s not compulsory for women to run in their knickers. And talking of knickers, I see the blokes playing beach volleyball wear ordinary shorts and tops but the women were in skimpy togs. And it’s not about sex?

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Some jumpers are still urging (demanding?) robotic clapping before they jump but fortunately the habit is declining, probably because of the crowd’s less than enthusiastic response.

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The compulsory hand on heart for Americans at presentation ceremonies is one thing, but do we want that level of patriotism to spread? Now, everyone thinks they have to sing their national anthems too. I blame the All Blacks for this fashion. They started it, I think. Next thing you know it will be hand on heart while saluting and singing the anthem.

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Sporting etiquette is still valued. I was pleased to see a barging Norwegian runner disqualified. It’s easy to see  sportsmanship when you win but it’s best demonstrated by losers. It’s hard to be graceful in defeat. Yet Valerie Adams managed to smile, possibly through clenched teeth, when the American’s final throw took Valerie’s title away.

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The champion French pole vaulter who thought he had gold in the bag looked distinctly displeased when the Brazilian snatched top prize.  And at the award ceremony he had a face like Bill Sykes’ dog. Very unsporting, I thought. However, it seems the Brazilian crowd booed his last attempted vault (just as rugby spectators here boo visiting goal-kickers) and also booed him at the award ceremony. The Brazilian spectators behaved badly at various team sports events, in numbers too large to ignore. It was boorish and unsporting.

But fortunately that kind of behaviour is unlikely to become the norm. Even the football players were sporting. Well, the goalies were, everyone else cheated but we expect that.

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There were some Oh dear! moments: The two American women relay runners who mucked-up the baton change for instance. Their faces; explosive anger meets thumb in mouth contrition. But for me, the prize oh dear! performance came from the middle distance runner, a medal prospect, who had her hands behind her head doing her hair when the gun went off.

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I must admit to a bit of nationalist fist-pumping myself when Nick Willis was thrusting his way into the medals at the end of the 1500. And when Lisa Carrington so majestically paddled home for gold. Perhaps the most beautiful image that stayed with me is the light shining on Eliza McArtney’s flowing hair as she sailed so gracefully over the vaulting bar.

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Chris Horan

Chris is a former social worker, probation officer and Family Court counsellor, living in Hawea in the South Island.