[Tom Jenkins for The Guardian]
Guardian columnist Marina Hyde had a hilarious piece yesterday from the Olympic equestrian venue in Greenwich. Mind you, I understood only about half of it, between obscure references best understood by residents of the UK and obscure references best understood by the horse set. At least I know that wellies are Wellingtons, the famed rubber boot of British country life, and that Hunter has made them for decades. That got me started in the passage below. You’ll find my chosen line of the day in the third paragraph, but it’s all well done. (Hat tip: Geoff Shackelford.)
To Greenwich Park, home of the prime meridian line, where it was officially Country O’Clock for the equestrianism on Monday. To give you a handle on the crowd, no one was wearing the wrong shoes. During Sunday’s rains at the Olympic Park, all manner of error-strewn urban footwear planning was on show, with punters slipping and slopping around in sandals and flip flops.
At Greenwich, despite the sunny skies, there were innumerable pairs of Hunter wellies, for the simple reason that you never know how it’s going to turn out. Empty seats scandal in the morning, shepherd’s warning.
Even more clearly in evidence were the hundreds wearing riding boots – a bit like those spectators who wear golf shoes to championships, giving them the air of people who imagine they might be called on to the greens at any time and asked to replace Tiger Woods if he goes to pieces.
Then again, Greenwich feels like a more-than-usually expert crowd. “Those surface changes made a big difference to the arena at the weekend,” one man was observing to his neighbour as they watched the cross country, which saw horses clearing jumps shaped like tractors, in a park from which you can see the City of London.
Where many 2012 venues give the impression of a mixed crowd of sport-watching novices, dedicated tourists, and diehard fans, much of Monday’s Greenwich bunch seemed like they knew each other instinctively – and possibly socially.
And speaking of the equestrian events, the hurdles for the jumping competition are a wonderful bit of whimsy. Be sure to see the Guardian’s slide show here.
[Andrew Boyers/Action Images]
It’s one of those rare moments in life when I can quit complaining and take control.
Every four years, with Summer Olympics coverage in the US focused on track and field, swimming, and gymastics, I bemoan the absence of rowing. You might not guess, with all the attention given to cycling on Ron’s View, but rowing was once my sport. Come the Olympics, I want to see the races, preferably live, at least the men’s and women’s eight finals. What one gets instead is the odd race broadcast at some obscure time, provided the US medals. Four years ago, with the US women’s eight taking gold, I never did figure out when a replay was shown.
This year, though, everything is available online as it happens. If I care so much, I can see all the rowing I want. And so, put up or shut up time arrives in six and a half hours. The men’s eight final will begin at 2:30 AM Seattle time.
How serious am I? I’ll let you know.
By the way, for some background, here’s an excerpt from Gary D’Amato’s article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The U.S. men’s eight, which had to qualify for the Olympic Games in a last-chance regatta, scored a minor upset by easily winning its heat Saturday and advancing directly to the rowing final.
Can the eight, a crew put together just a few months ago, pull off a much bigger surprise and win a medal on the 2,000-meter course at Eton Dorney on Wednesday?
“Absolutely,” said Chris Clark, who coached U.S. team members Grant and Ross James at the University of Wisconsin. “Whether or not they’ve got enough to win a gold medal, I don’t know.”
Germany, favored to win gold, won its heat with a time of 5 minutes 25.52 seconds, more than 5 seconds faster than the 5:30.72 posted by the U.S. boat.
The heat winners advanced to the final. Great Britain, Canada, the Netherlands and Australia also advanced through the repechage.
Clark said the Americans’ best chance to medal would be to get off to a fast start.
“In the eight, it’s so much about confidence,” Clark said. “You have the advantage because you can see the boat behind you. If the slightest doubt creeps in, a (trailing) boat can fall apart.