The training is complete, the preparation is over and it is finally time to begin the 2008 Beijing Olympics. As you probably realise this is the pinnacle of my sporting career and I just can’t wait to get started. This will be my second real Olympics and I am hoping for an improved performance from my last effort when the games were held in Greece.
While technically these will be my 8th Olympics, it has only been in the last two years I have taken my involvement seriously. Many people just view the Olympics as a time to marvel at the athlete’s ability to perform super human feats under immense pressure. To them the Olympics is a time to sit on the couch, eat food and just watch. Not me.
The Olympics, for me, is the chance to pit myself against the world’s best just to see if our New Zealand selectors were wrong in leaving me at home.
As I have already stated, I was extremely disappointed at my performance during the 2004 games. My preparation was poor and small issues such as living with the in-laws definitely had an adverse affect. Essentially it was an away game which meant I was unsure about basic issues which I had taken for granted. Issues such as the distance from the couch to the fridge and back via the toilet, the range of the remote and I had issues with the new volume control. All these factors played a part in my poor performance. Even having a TV in my bedroom didn’t seem to ease the problems as the time difference didn’t go down that well with Rachel, elbowing her during Hamish Carter’s victory in the triathlon.
For me there is a twofold aspect to this year’s Olympics. Firstly, there is the watching and viewing side of things. This involves sports that are a little difficult to replicate in my living room. Gymnastics is one. While I certainly don’t doubt my flexibility and my high bar routine is second to none, the fact that this sport requires judges precludes me from taking part. This has only been a last minute decision as during the 2004 games my floor exercise was up there with some of the best from the Romania orphans. Even Ray (my father in-law) was speechless as I rolled around effortlessly in his lounge in my lycra one piece to Lenard Cohen. I can still visualize the tears I saw welling up in his eyes.
Other sports such as horse riding, beach volleyball, yachting and boxing fall into this category as they are just too difficult to run successfully in our 5m by 4m lounge. These are the sports I just sit back, watch and enjoy, knowing that the cards life has dealt me, mean that I am unable to prove myself in these disciplines.
However, there are a number of sports that you can actually join in during the Olympics and with the latest results online you can actually rank yourself.
For me the first week is going to be slightly easier than the second. Traditionally, I haven’t been strong in the Aquatic section but this year I have a slightly smaller bath, which I am hoping will help me make the top ten in most events. While I have had some doubters over the years I make sure that I keep to all international swimming rules except one. Firstly, I start in the water as diving into out 55cm deep bath could prove disastrous and secondly, I swim in the nick, none of the latest Addidas full length babies for me.
Just to give you an idea, about how things work, our bath is 1.8m long. Therefore, for a 100m swimming race I have to touch the each end a total of 56 times. The current world record for the 100m freestyle 47.50 and I am sure that by sitting in the middle of my bath I can touch each end 28 times in under 45 seconds. One of the drawback with the small bath is that we can’t get the entire Banbury Family in there at once so we have had to reluctantly, excuse the pun, ‘pull the plug’ on that event.
Also during the first week I have bmx riding which will involve the use of Asa’s small bike and our piano as a ramp. I have even bought a small water pistol with a range of 20m for the smallbore rifle event. Apart from those events the first week is about watching, beach volleyball and fencing in particular, and becoming absorbed in the Olympic Spirit.
The second week will be physically draining and that will be when my training comes to fruition. First up will be the rowing, then the triathlon and then the big event of track and field. Without boasting I am hoping to come away with about 7 medals. Our treadmill has already been positioned in the lounge and I have preset in the memory all of the Olympic distances from 100m all the way to the 50km walk. I have managed to rig up a very impressive high jump contraption and one of the rocks I dislodge while working on our garden will be used when I go head to head with Valerie Villi. While most athletes at the Olympics focus on one or two events I prefer to go with the blanket approach and enter them all.
While disappointed that my request for an New Zealand Olympic singlet and shorts was dismissed by the NZ Olympic Committee I have taken my own black ‘wifebeater’ and added a small silver fern with some double sided sticky tape. I have gone with the number 59-235-678 which is my IRD number.
Just quietly I am really focussing on the 800m and 1500m events. Traditionally these have been New Zealand’s events and hopefully I will be able to restore some pride. My main secret weapon for both these races is my finishing kick. During my training I found the 12km/ph speed limit on my treadmill concerning and a quick look at the fastest times highlight that about 15 runners have already run faster than me this season. Therefore, I have taken the drastic step of hooking up the lawnmower to the treadmill and I believe the extra 4.5hp will ensure victory for the black singlet. As a by product the petrol fumes and black smoke that bellows from the engine creates an authentic Beijing climate in our own lounge.
I also challenge you to take part in the 2008 Olympics. Like me you are probably frustrated at New Zealand’s tough selection criteria and this could be your chance to put forward your case for the next Commonwealth Games to be held in Zimbabwe.
If not and you prefer to sit and cheer on our New Zealand athletes, just remember that while there may be no New Zealand athletes in the 800m final, there is one die hard New Zealand runner recreating our famous history in his lounge while choking on his lawnmower fumes.