Time for change. Why horse racing should be part of the Olympics.

August 4, 2012

It’s painfully clear to any fair-dinkum sports fan that more than a few Olympic events need to go.

You and I know that members of the IOC are regular readers of Hold All Tickets. Here is our chance to point those learned gents in the right direction.

Badminton is a sport that kids play when they’re bored at parties. It’s not serious. That’s why all those teams started cheating. They’d done the same at their 7th birthday and no-one noticed.

I was a gun handball player at school. Made the ace square most lunchtimes. Funnily enough, that didn’t qualify me for the Olympics. Because we grew up and found far more interesting things to do. Ditch it, and no-one would notice.

Synchronised swimming? Please. I’m sure the girls put in plenty of training, and I admire them for that. But I can’t accept twirling and splashing as a sport. My girls can do that any summer Sunday.

A good rule of thumb is that anything I can do, shouldn’t be part of the Games. I believe I could race-walk, Kel Knight style, without too much trouble. Much slower than those in London, but it could be done. Either run, or go home.

Having tennis superstars playing for medals makes my head spin. Have they been training for the Olympics all their lives? No. For just a minute? No. If the Olympic concept folded tomorrow, would they give two hoots? No.

In four years time, golfers will be on the team. Yep, that model of Olympic spirit, Tiger Woods, could be part of the action. God help us.

Ok, enough of the negativity. I have a plan to put the Gosh back into the Games. And we might even win a few events.

I first saw the idea on that impressive racing website, Racenet. If you haven’t visited it, you should. One of the growing number of top-notch racing sites online.

The boys there suggested racing should be part of the Olympics. Possibly in jest. But they got a big response. And I think they’re onto something.

Imagine the world’s best horses, jockeys and trainers, on the Olympic stage. In the colours of their homeland.

You could have three races. 1200 for the sprinters, 1600 for the middle distance stars, and 2400 for the best stayers. Spread them over a week at the back-end of the Games, when the swimming is done and everything else becomes a yawn.

The best of the Brits. Kiwis would be there with pride. The USA, South Africa, Japan, Germany and all those other countries we see on Sky Racing late at night.

Start the debate on who would represent Australia. Let’s imagine the green light has been given, and we’re in action next week.

Black Caviar would be the only choice for the sprint. She’d take gold, of course. Can you imagine Peter Moody on the Olympic dias, singing the anthem, with a XXXX Gold in hand? It would be on highlight reels for decades.

A tougher choice for the middle distance race. I’d go for More Joyous. She’d have a red-hot go. Gai would be dashing in green and gold. And Singo would become the Laurie Lawrence of the Games Village.

So You Think would make an Olympic size comeback. In Australian colours. Back with Bart Cummings, and blitzing them over 2400.

So there we go. Three gold medals. And ignore all this talk about owners needing cash to compete. If Roger Federer can do it, so could we. It would be up there with winning the cup.

Forget mis-firing Missiles in the pool. The answer is on the track. We’ll go there together, in 2020. And get your bets on now for Bart to be carrying the flag at the Opening Ceremony. Might take him a while to get around, but what a journey it would be.

My Olympic tradition. Getting that sick feeling every four years.

July 31, 2012

The Olympics make me sick. Not that I don’t enjoy the Aussies in action. It’s just that over time, the Games have been bad for my health.

The trend began in 1996. I was fighting fit, living in Cairns. With a connection to some wonderful Australian Olympians.

Atlanta was the host city that year. And for the first time, softball was an Olympic sport.

Before making their way to the U-S, the Aussie girls headed to the Far North for a training camp. I was lucky enough to cover their preparation, and you’d be hard pressed to find a more impressive bunch.

I was ready to follow their plight with interest. Perhaps with a small wager on them winning a medal. Until I started to feel unwell.

It started with a headache. And no, cruel friends, it wasn’t self-inflicted.

This was a throbbing jolt. Like a sledgehammer. The only thing that took my mind of it was the fact that I was in pain all over, and sweating like the dodgy bloke in Casablanca.

Being a male, it goes without saying that I have incredible powers to absorb such suffering. And of course, not complain at all. But this was something else. I gave serious thought to the music they’d play at my funeral service that week.

It got so bad that I needed medical help. The doctor, also a male, offered his sympathies. His expert opinion was that I had come down with the dreaded dengue fever.

That was, however, until the first spot came out. An angry red blob on my head. Followed by others, across the length and breadth of my poisoned body.

Cancel the tropical fever alert. This was a case of the childhood disease, Chickenpox.

I’ve never felt so sick. And, when the spotting ceased, the feeling of death was replaced by an itch that could send the toughest of men to the rubber room.

The timing of my illness meant I was confined to the couch for two weeks. The very two weeks that the Olympics were on the small screen.

So I sat there, feeling sorry for myself, and scratching every dot of skin that I could access with untold vigour.

The only positive was that I could cheer the Aussie softballers at all hours of the day and night. They won bronze.

I managed to stay healthy for the next few Olympics, until the flame was being prepared to be lit in Beijing. Then it all went downhill again.

The surgeon’s knife was out. To fix a sinus complaint that allowed me to pick up any flu bug that was going. It also produced more of those headaches, when someone so much as uncorked a bottle of vino.

The solution was an operation. I was hesitant, until he explained that it would allow me to enjoy the odd wine tipple, without having to hide in a dark room the following day. Sign me up doc.

The procedure was done, just days before the 2008 Games began. So it was off to the couch again. To cheer the softballers in their final outing as Olympians. The sport was ditched, so we could all enjoy female boxing. Go figure.

A few differences to my suffering that time. Instead of an itch, I had several tonnes of cotton wadding up my snoz. I will spare you the finer, gory details. Needless to say, it was something of a horror movie when they produced the industrial pliers to remove it.

Which brings us to London. No dramas just yet. Although I do have a cough. I hear there’s a nasty bronchitis going around. TB even.  That would be just my luck. Getting sick, when there’s no softball to watch. I’ll keep you posted.