Many people view the Olympics as a time to marvel at amazing athletes and their ability to perform super human feats under immense pressure. To them the Olympics is a time to sit on the couch, eat food and watch.
For me, the Olympics is the chance to pit myself against the world’s best and see if the New Zealand selectors were wrong in leaving me at home. While technically these will be my 11th Olympics, it has only been in the last two games that I have taken my involvement seriously.
I believe there is a twofold aspect to any Olympics Games. Firstly, there are the sports you can only watch. Secondly, there are sports where, if you set up your lounge correctly, you can actually take part.
Obviously, there are some 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. In saying that my floor exercise in the 2016 Rio Games ranked alongside some of the most innovative routines ever seen. I still remember my speechless wife, tears rolling down her face, as I rolled around effortlessly in my lounge in my lycra one piece. I completed gymnastic maneuvers once reserved for Russian 12-year-old Olympic protégés.
Other sports such as horse riding, beach volleyball, yachting and boxing fall into this category. They are just too difficult to run successfully in our 5m by 4m lounge. These are the sports I just sit back and watch.
“I completed gymnastic maneuvers once reserved for Russian 12-year-old Olympic proteges.”Shem Banbury
But there are a number of sports that you can actually join in during the Olympics and with the latest results online you can rank yourself against the best in the world.
For me the first week is going to be slightly easier than the second. Traditionally, I haven’t been strong in the Aquatic section. However, these Olympics 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 Adidas full length togs 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 46.91 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. this means I have reluctantly, excuse the pun, ‘pulled the plug’ on our involvement in any relay events.
Also during the first week I have BMX riding which will involve the use of Milli’s small bike and our piano as a ramp. I have even bought a small water pistol with a range of 20m for the small-bore 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 is where I feel my strength lies. It will be draining but I believe that will be when my conditioning 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 Tom Walsh. While most athletes at the Olympics focus on one or two events I prefer to go with the shotgun 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 singlet 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.
‘While most athletes at the Olympics focus on one or two events I prefer to go with the shotgun approach and enter them all”Shem Banbury
Just quietly I am really focusing on the 800m and 1500m events. Traditionally these have been New Zealand’s events and with Peter Snell’s victory in these events the last time the Olympics were held in Tokyo I think it would be a fitting story. My 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 show that I would probably end up dead last in both events. Therefore, I have taken the drastic step of hooking up my 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 Tokyo climate in our own lounge.
I also challenge you to take part in the 2021 Tokyo 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
Covid Commonwealth Games to be held in Birmingham.
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.