Scott Kara: Thrills, spills and a few bad jokes

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Rowan Atkinson's OOS-inducing, one-note keyboard performance on Chariots of Fire had me chuckling. Photo / AP
Rowan Atkinson's OOS-inducing, one-note keyboard performance on Chariots of Fire had me chuckling. Photo / AP

Any Olympic host city prepared to have a song by experimental British duo F*** Buttons included in their opening ceremony has my vote. Inspired stuff, London.

That band is better known for their ear-wrecking electronic music - check out their 2009 record Tarot Sport; like canoe slalom it's challenging, punishing, and really very good - but made the mainstream leap to the Olympic stage under cover of their track Olympians.

Actually, to be accurate, it was a remix version of the song by drum 'n' bass head High Contrast that was used in London. It's like Joy Division's Atmosphere meets Chariots of Fire. Or something like that.

The point I'm making here is that musically the Brits and musical director Rick Smith of electronic duo Underworld did themselves proud. Or should that read they didn't embarrass themselves as much as they could have? Thankfully, there were no Spice Girls, for starters. Or any boy-band Take That schlock.

Although strangely there was also no Led Zeppelin, considering Led Zep guitarist Jimmy Page and contemporary singer Leona Lewis did a rendition of Whole Lotta Love at the end of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Perhaps there was a communication breakdown between the veteran rocker and knob-twiddler Smith?

And I don't know about you, but Rowan Atkinson's OOS-inducing, one-note keyboard performance on Chariots of Fire had me chuckling.

Elsewhere during the first week at the Games there has been much sideshow-style entertainment.

What a feisty and dramatic bunch the masked men and women of the fencing are.

It's like some stroppy Shakespearean tragedy as they go for each other and then whip their masks off to glare violently at the referee when he doesn't award them the point.

I thought it would be more elegant, and have seen more poise from Puss in Boots than these lunging wildlings, but for a sport I don't understand at all it makes mighty fine viewing.

Then there was that big dog bounding out in front of the peloton in the men's cycling road race, which provided a bit of drama.

Surprisingly, considering the speed they were going, no one hit the wayward pooch. But, speaking of spills and thrills, there were a number of crashes during the women's road race.

Cycling commentator John Cardwell - a knowledgeable veteran of three Olympic and four Commonwealth Games - shouldn't have laughed, but he did, when one of the riders found themselves in a ditch after a pile-up.

"I shouldn't laugh," he said, still sounding like he was finding it amusing but knowing he should move on.

Luckily, co-commentator and former Olympic cyclist Rebecca Bailey, who presumably hit the deck a few times during her career, and possibly even ended up in a ditch on occasion too, moved things on for him by diverting viewers' attention to the race at hand.

During the men's road race Bailey also found herself a little dumbfounded again when Cardwell, commenting on the fact that Colombian rider Sergio Luis Henao Montoya was about to be caught by the chasing bunch, came up with this gem: "Henao. Henao. Don't dream it's over."

To which an embarrassed Bailey opined: "John. You didn't just say that?"

To be fair to Cardwell, the road race is a hard one to commentate, with the men's race almost six hours long, but perhaps he should let the riders, the cheering crowd, and the scenery tell the story for a few seconds longer before opening his mouth in future.

- TimeOut

- NZ Herald

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