Olympics - Off the track: Smile! (or else)

By Paul Harper

Saudi Arabia's Sarah Attar. Photo / AP
Saudi Arabia's Sarah Attar. Photo / AP

The London Olympics will be remembered as much for what happens off the track as on it. nzherald.co.nz reporter - and winner of numerous fair play awards for sports as a kid - Paul Harper sums up the incidents and controversy surrounding the games.

Team Dutch Britain
First the Aussie papers tried to claim our gold medals, now the British press are claiming Dutch bronze. The front page of the Daily Express on Wednesday proudly heralded Team GB's medal winners with the headline "22 carat gold: Britain's greatest Olympic medal haul for half a century", accompanied by a photo of the Dutch dressage team and their bronze medals. The Daily Mirror made the same error, with a spread of British team's gold medal win and pics of the Dutch medallists under the headline "Only golden horses". According to the Guardian, who were more than happy to revel in their rivals' mistakes, the error appears to have come from an incorrect caption on an agency photo.

Meanwhile Aus Zealand sit sixth on the Olympic medal table with eight gold, 14 silver, and 14 bronze medals. Well done Team Oceania!

Olympics flatten breasts into stubs - Turk
The Olympics are destroying the female figure and points should be added for how feminine competitors look. That's not my opinion (well it is a little bit), but that of Turkish columnist Yuksel Aytug. In his Sabah Daily column, Aytug wrote that the Olympics forces women to look like men.

"Broad-shouldered, flat-chested women with small hips; [they are] totally indistinguishable from men. Their breasts - the symbol of womanhood, motherhood - flattened into stubs as they were seen as mere hindrances to speed," Aytug said (translation from Hurriyet Daily News).

"I am not even talking about female javelin throwers, shot-put athletes, weightlifters, wrestlers and boxers," Aytug said. "Their appearance is just pathetic."

Meanwhile, Sarah Attar became the first Saudi woman to compete in an Olympic track event, running the 800m. Despite finishing her heat 45 seconds after the winner, the hijab-wearing Attah won a standing-ovation from the London crowd. I bet our sexist friend Aytug hated it, so that's good.

Smile at the Olympics - or else
Mark Worsfold is asking for an apology from police - after he was arrested for not smiling during the men's cycling road race.

In a statement, Surrey police said the man's behaviour "caused concern".

"The man was positioned close to a small group of protesters and based on his manner, his state of dress and his proximity to the course, officers made an arrest to prevent a possible breach of the peace."

Worsfold, 54, a former soldier and martial arts instructor, has Parkinson's disease. Police said Worsfold had "a number of knives" on him, however these turned out to be made of rubber, the Guardian reported.

He was released after two hours without charge or caution.

"It could have been done better. I was arrested for not smiling. I have Parkinson's," Worsfold told the Guardian.

Delayed Olympics for US troops
Even those Americans who put their lives on the line for their country have to suffer NBC's rubbish Olympic coverage. Americans stationed abroad are watching the games on the American Forces Network, however only about 50 per cent of the coverage has been live because AFN sources the games through NBC, who has been tape-delaying events to screen during east coast prime time. Troops stationed in Germany, for example, would have to wait until after midnight to see the feats of Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt, as delayed volleyball, hockey and tennis screened while their events occurred live. Officials for AFN told Stars and Stripes the network is contractually obliged to carry a feed from a US provider.

So the Taliban probably has a better idea of what is going on in London than the Americans fighting them.


Swimmer beats wrestlers at football
Yesterday we told you about Usain Bolt's upcoming trial with English Premier League football giants Manchester United - now the Red Devils may also want to leave space on the space on their roster for South African swimmer Chad le Clos. The London 2012 gold medallist is a football nut, but had to sacrifice the round ball in order to focus on the pool. Now the 200m butterfly champion and United fan gets his football fix on Fifa 2012 on the Playstation.

"I'm not one to brag," le Clos told the Daily Telegraph. "I'm one of the best in the village. But I played some Cuban wrestlers, which was pretty scary because I was beating them and they're 120 kilos. I don't want to mess with them."

Weng did it like Beckham
Lu Weng, from Nanjing in China, liked the Olympic Opening Ceremony so much, he recreated David Beckham's jetboat ride down the Thames before he proposed for his girlfriend. The 26-year-old even paid for actors wearing bear-skin hats to accompany him.

"I had been trying to think of something unusual to surprise Hen for our engagement," he told The Sun.

"We had been watching the Olympic opening ceremony in London and then when I saw David Beckham in his boat on the Thames, something just clicked.

See the pics here

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