Gold medal for Olympic commentators
All of this week, I’ve been rolling out of bed and parking myself in front of the television. On any other normal day, this would be an utterly appalling concept: I rarely switch on the box last thing at night, let alone first thing in the morning.
But I’m suffering from Olympicitis; which is something I get once every four years. The national anthems, the flags, the green pitches, the speed, the broken records – they all get to me; even the athletes going up on a podium makes me go all emotional.
And we can root for our Olympians too. I was really keeping my fingers crossed for William Chetcuti. I so wanted him to win a gold medal, to see the Maltese flag fly high with the other two, to hear the national anthem, and see him put his hand on his heart. And we’d all have tears streaming down our cheeks as I sing along. Will we ever live to see that?
It’s odd really that I get so completely hooked on the Games, because if anything, they make me feel hopelessly unfit and out of shape. I look at all those toned biceps and triceps and despair. I make mental notes of an immediate plan of action: I will join a gym and excel in a sport.
For 17 days, everything seems possible: Yes! I can get up at 5 a.m., drive to a pool and freestyle up and down for an hour. Yes! As of tomorrow, I’ll start cycling to and from work. And yes! I can take up fencing (how hard can it be? I already know the basics from watching that Tulipano Nero cartoon).
This feeling lasts exactly the duration of the Games. On day 18, right after the closing ceremony, my resolutions all fizzle out and I am back to embracing my flabby muscles.
Still, I love the Games because there is a sense of global warmth about them. The Olympic torch really is the flame of eternal hope: no matter how minute your country there’s always that tiny chance that your athlete can make it.
I also love the little sagas: like the disqualification of the badminton players who deliberately tried to lose group stage matches to engineer easier quarter-final draws. Or the swimmer’s flamboyant and patriotic nail art, or the athletes who slept through their alarm clocks and barely made it to their event. Or the Mayor of London getting stuck on a zip wire and dangling in mid-air because he lost momentum.
However, the gold medal of these Olympics surely goes to the resident sport commentators on TVM2, who are totally oblivious to any kind of humour. The highlight was the opening night. As we watched James Bond actor Daniel Craig pick up Queen Elizabeth from Buckingham Palace in what was tongue-in-cheek Brit humour, it was clear they were completely clueless as to who the actor was.
“Here we see the Queen, accompanied, going up the helicopter,” prattled one of the commentators. “And, hekk hu, here she is jumping off the helicopter,” went on the other. (Even my five-year-old realised it was a dummy dressed up as the Queen). After a long while, the penny seemed to drop and we were told: “Oh. That sounded like a James Bond track.” Indeed.
The next day, commenting on the live table tennis heats, they had a little chat on the importance of mind and eye co-ordination for table tennis players: “Maybe it’s the shape of their eyes, you know because they’re slanty, it’s ideal for this sport.”
How very politically correct.
Then when swimmer Andrew Chetcuti finished third in his heats, and we were all agog wanting to know if he broke the national record or not, they all stammered in their television studio. “Well, hekk hu, we have to see if he broke his personal best,” said one. “Yes, yes,” added his colleague, “One has to see what his personal best is.” Makes you wonder whose job it was to inform us, if not theirs.
And then on Thursday, during the double-trap shooting, because there was no live Olympic custom feed, they were getting William Chetcuti’s results through online live updates. They informed us, over and over again, that they were constantly “following the computer”.
“Hekk hu, we’re looking at the computer now,” one said. “Jesus!” the other one exclaimed – live – as he presumably saw something exciting on the ‘computer’.
Like I said: gold award for the titters.
But now I come to my final and most important point about the London Olympics: Have you noticed that 40 per cent of Team Malta are Chetcutis?