Olympics: Off the track - July 31

By Paul Harper

Natalie Cook of Australia reacts - not after being told Boris Johnson thinks she's glistening like an otter right now, but after winning the first set over Austria. Photo / AP
Natalie Cook of Australia reacts - not after being told Boris Johnson thinks she's glistening like an otter right now, but after winning the first set over Austria. Photo / AP

The London Olympics will be remembered as much for what happens off the track as on it. Herald.co.nz reporter - and double try scorer in his end of year Form 5 PE class rugby clash - Paul Harper sums up the incidents and controversy surrounding the games.

"Gissa Gold"

It may be a tad premature but some in the British media are getting a little, well, skittish over that first elusive gold medal.

The Sun - never one to hang back - has broken ranks and asked what others have possibly been thinking: When will the home team's normal gold medal deluge start?

Its website led with a plaintive message: "Just one Gold. Any Sport. Please."

The newspaper claimed that after Day 3 of the Olympics, Sun readers are starting to clamour: "Gissa Gold".

The Sun reported: "Our five musclebound lads scooped Britain's first medal in men's team gymnastics for a CENTURY."

But after a disappointing time at the Aquatics Centre, we finished the third day of the Games still yelling: "Gissa gold!"

But triumphalism was restored when it reported that an "Olympic source" said it was only a case of when the gold arrived, not if. So long as, we presume, the when isn't Day 14.

Semi-naked women "glistening like wet otters"

Few can put a positive spin on things better than wacky London mayor Boris Johnson. In his Daily Telegraph column, Johnson has listed "20 reasons to be cheerful and proud" about how the games are going.

My two favourites:

"16. The Olympics are proving to be a boost to tattoo parlours. Plenty of people seem to want their thighs inscribed with "Oylimpics 2012" and other ineradicable mis-spellings."

And:

"19. As I write these words there are semi-naked women playing beach volleyball in the middle of the Horse Guards Parade immortalised by Canaletto. They are glistening like wet otters and the water is plashing off the brims of the spectators' sou'westers. The whole thing is magnificent and bonkers."

The publicity from the event could work out well for Johnson, with some predicting the messy-haired Tory will succeed David Cameron to lead the Conservatives.

Meanwhile, Cameron shocked commuters by riding on the tube. That's like Prime Minister John Key riding on a bus.

Cameron echoed his mayoral buddy, saying the games got off to a "magnificent start" with the opening ceremony.

"I keep walking past the beach volleyball and I keep thinking that I have to pop in," he told the Telegraph, probably keen to check out those wet otter-like women.

Don't spend it all at once

"If I had a pound every time I played the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony," Paul McCartney may or may not have once said, "I would have a pound."

The Beatle's unconfirmed comments come after he effectively donated his time at the ceremony, receiving only a pound for belting out Hey Jude at the end of the extravaganza, AP reported.

It is believed other performers such as Mike Oldfield, Dizzee Rascal and Emeli Sande, also received the nominal fee.

The fee was offered in order to make their Olympic contracts binding.

Don't be a twit

You can get in a lot of trouble in 140 characters or less.

First, triple jumper Voula Papachristou was dropped from the Greek squad for a racist tweet, before the games had even begun, then American women's football goalkeeper Hope Solo got into hot water for having a dig at a former player and commentator, and now Swiss footballer Michel Morganella has been sent home for posting a racist message.

Here's a tip for athletes.

What you tweet is public - anyone can see it. Your bosses can read it and the media can report on it. Don't tweet what you wouldn't say to a reporter.

Although feel free to say it to me.

But it's not just athletes who have struggled to stay out of trouble on the social networking site at the Olympics. British journo Guy Adams has had his account suspended by Twitter after a series of scathing attacks against NBC's delayed Olympics coverage while some tit of a twit has been slammed for sending disgusting tweets to British diver Tom Daley after he failed to win a medal in the synchronised diving.

Tweeting Kiwis keep beaks out of trouble

Meanwhile our athletes appear more capable of behaving themselves on social media.

So far, the only slightly dodgy tweet I've seen from our team has come from cyclist Greg Henderson (viewer discretion advised).

Speaking of @Greghenderson1, the 35-year-old takes gold as our most followed athlete on Twitter*, with 25,755 followers as of this morning.

Olywhite Chris Wood (@officialcwood) takes the silver with 13,134, followed by legendary Mark Todd (@MTEventing) on 9,417. Triathlete Bevan Docherty (@bevanjdocherty) just misses out on the medals, with 7,595 followers.

Footballers, triathletes and cyclists dominate the top 20, but placings may change come the end of the games.

Todd's fans may well be the most passionate though, as the trending hashtag #MarkTodd attests.

*Figures are based on the athletes I have found and compiled here, in my list of Olympic-related twitter accounts. Please let me know if I've missed anyone out! https://twitter.com/#!/snappy_nz/olympics

Flying low while flying the flag high

Middle-distance runner Nick Willis said carrying the New Zealand into the Opening Ceremony was a "great honour", however it was almost an embarrassing moment for the 29-year-old.

"Oh I almost forgot. Right before going into the stadium with the flag, a Dutch official pointed to my open fly! #flyinglow," Willis wrote on Twitter.

The heats of the 1500m start August 4.

Willis is currently the fifth most followed New Zealand athlete at the games, although commentators expect his number of Twitter followers to increase rapidly should he put in a strong showing in his event. He currently has 4,815 followers.

Go on, follow him.

Volunteer goes viral

Finally, and because you've been good, here is a clip of the Olympics' Happiest Worker. Enjoy.

- additional reporting by Jeremy Rees

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