Rio Olympics Round Up

Thousands descended upon Rio for the Olympics last month, and boy was it a spectacle. From the eye-watering display of colours and emotion at the Opening Ceremony to the jaw-dropping performances from the myriad of super talented competitors. Unlike any other games before it, the Rio Olympics felt like a really 21st century Sporting Event. After all, an event whose history that goes back to 1896, always feels a little retro.


The power of the Olympic Games is held within the nostalgia of seeing men and women from across the globe race, swim and throw their way to victory. Every four years, they grace our screens and every time this happens we are transported to all the other instances of watching the Games. Four years is a decent stretch of time and life always seems to have changed irrevocably during this time.

mo-farahWhen we watched Mo Farah win his two gold medals, we smiled and laughed with him. But we’d seen it before.

When Nicola Adams retained her boxing title, we clapped and jumped for joy. But we’d seen it before.

This is the paradoxical nature of live sport. It is both ephemeral and concrete. Whilst we are watching it, that is all there is.

The men striving to jump just a few centimetres further have only that small window of opportunity to achieve their goal – and all we can do is watch them.

Perhaps one of them has had a particularly good day leading up to his competition. He has stretched and mentally prepared.

Perhaps, a couple of hours before arriving at the stadium, he took a walk along the white sands of Rio and bumped into a group of street urchins.

Playing football with them, he lost himself in the pure nostalgia of ‘kicking a ball about’ and rediscovered a child like sensation of excitement.

With this feeling of optimism and joy in his heart, he could take his leap of faith and gain that extra centimetre on his competitor, winning himself a medal.

With more than 11,000 athletes taking part in this year’s games, there is a story for each and every one of these intrepid individuals.

For every Ping Pong player, Hammer Thrower and Steeple Chaser there is a loyal group of excitable fans back in their home country, screaming at their screen – urging them on. Every individual has their hopes and dreams of winning, bringing their prize home and treasuring the endless stream of congratulations and acclaim that they will receive.

Regardless of the winner, the losers or the record breakers. This Rio Games belonged, as it always does, to the supporters and viewers.

An estimated 3.6 billion people tuned in to watch the games this year – that’s more than the population of China and India combined. Billions of people watching some sports that they’d never seen before; placing bets, eating dinner, discussing politics. The Olympic Games provide the world with 2 weeks of golden water cooler conversation – an ice-breaker that could aid billions in finding a little more in common with their fellow man.

Orangeries For Clubhouses

A good sports club needs many things. It needs equipment and a place to play. It needs the enthusiasm of a supportive community. It needs the expertise of coaches and organisers. It needs, of course, players and lovers of the sport it chooses. And, when it gets to a certain level, a sports club needs a clubhouse. That’s right. A house for the Club. A club needs a house, and a house needs a club. What is a club without a house? It’s a lonely, pointless, homeless, empty wondering ghost. Slipping from field to field without ever truly registering its love or desire to be more than just an idea, more than just a thought. A club wants to exist truly, in place, it wants to be grounded and solid. Do we all want this? Do we all want to be grounded and solid? It is always scary, grounding yourself. Some seem to truly crave it, to want to find an opportunity to settle and ‘put down roots’ or whatever. This means that they are quicker to find people to do this with, and it is clearly in one way easier for them to find a person to do this with, because they are certain that it is something they want. It is not to say that it is then simply ‘easy’. There are of course struggles and hardships along the way. But it is one less question to obsess over.


For a club, the questions are not to different: Is this club of ours serious? Are we all going to be here in a few months? Are we still going to be committed in a few years? That is suddenly the scale that we are on, once we start considering a clubhouse. The new fad for clubhouses this year is apparently Orangeries. If you don’t know what an Orangery is, well…

THAT is an Orangery. To all extensive purposes basically just a conservatory with less glass. I hear from friends down south (were these trends often take hold first) that all the new clubhouses they’ve seen built this year have had Orangeries. So it looks like they’re the way to go!

Swimming On Merseyside

Swimming, I’m fairly sure, is a pretty good form of exercise. Reasons?

A) It uses, like, all of your body. Almost every muscle is engaged in full muscular exercise. That muscle, this muscle, leg muscle, arm muscle, all the muscle.

B) It cleans you as you exercise and then there are the showers. Oh lord the showers, they sit there by the swimming pool just out of sight from the pool so when you’re in the pool you’re always thinking ‘Are they still there? Are the showers still there? They where there a minute ago before I got into the pool… are they still there? GOD I HOPE SO!’

C) Being in water is nice. It is, if you disagree you’re wrong so bugger off.

D) Everyone’s at the swimming pool! Kids! Teenagers! Adults! Old People! Swimming Pool Employees! Swimming Pools!

E) Everyday, when you wake up, you should be aware that the day you are about to live would be a better day if you’d just go for a swim so GO FOR A BLOODY SWIM!

F) Well, leisure centres are pillars of the community where people can meet and sit and have a chicken burger in a big bun with a small chicken portion in the middle and a bit of lettuce.

G) And, finally, it’s good for your health. I think. According too ‘scientists’.


So what does this all mean? It means ya’ll need to get swimming. So what do you do here in Merseyside? Do you go to a leisure centre? ( Or a private gym? ( Or maybe even get your own pool built? ( I mean, of you’ve got the money then you should totally do the last one of those and all the other ones of those. Because if you can buy yourself a pool don’t be a bad person, still give money to the community. So get out there! Get swimming! Get going! You mad fool!


Different In America?

In America, all things are quite different, from the way they eat their food to the way they shout about their politics, from their politics to their accents to the way that they talk. They are very different to us, from the way they walk to the way they move their legs when moving on their feet. They are very different to us, from the way they drink alcohol to the way they get drunk. They are just a bit different. When it comes to how they raise their sports people(athletes), they have really a rather very different, one that means almost all, all, of their sports people (athletes) have college (university) degrees.


‘So the dinosaurs were here, right got that, then what?

In America the production line for sports people (athletes) goes school, high school (secondary school), then COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIP! This is the big thing, an american football player does not just do nothing but play football at an american football club their whole life, they go to college and do nothing but play american football for their whole life BUT at the end of all that they get given a piece of paper that pretends they’ve learnt a degree. So good for them! Well, but, what is life like for these college student sports people (athletes)? Do they end up desperately different to our sports people(athletes)? Well, interesting. Interesting, interesting, interesting. Well I’ve been doing a bit of research haven’t I, I had a look at some stuff about what american college people respond too ( and also looked at some stuff about the day to day life of a college sports person(athlete)(‘A day in the life of a college athlete’ and I can conclude these three things:

  1. America is strange and different.
  2. Young American sports people(athletes) are not well read culturally vivacious polymaths.
  3. American Football is a sport that requires very, very specific skills of most people in its team.

So there we go. USA! USA! USA! USA!

Help Your Body, Help Yourself

My Mum is a 62 year old woman who plays tennis once a week. She used to jog but she’s had issues with her legs and with her ankles so she packed that in a while ago so that she could save her self for tennis. She loves playing tennis. She plays doubles with her friend Jenny and they have been doing really well over the past few years, working there way up through the leagues that run at the local club. After playing each week she, her doubles partner and the other ladies who play around the same time meet in the small club house and have a cup of tea and chat and laugh and generally have a good time. My parents moved around a fair bit in their earlier life and moved to where they are now, where this Tennis Club is, about 16 years ago knowing no one in the city. My Dad has never been very social and didn’t really seem to mind but my Mum likes having friends and likes being part of a community. It is through Tennis that she found those friends and found that community, her games are one of her favourite bits of the week. It is also something she enjoys as an individual, away from the family and husband who make up so much of her life (I think happily it must be said!). In her tennis world she is defined only by her personality and her play and I think she loves that, it is an expression of independence that a person needs. Before Christmas, her leg was getting worse and she was struggling a little. We went for a walk on boxing day and her ankle hurt so much that we had to cut it short. She’s now had to stop playing tennis for, hopefully, just a couple of weeks. But we shall see.


Tennis is a hobby for my Mum, but it is also clearly more than that and her inability to play has really affected her life. She is sad about it, she misses her friends, she misses the feeling she got from playing, she misses a lot of things. She’s also getting a little angry. She’s angry that she can’t play and she’s angry at her body for being the reason for that. She’s angry at that damn leg. She’s now got to embark on a course of physiotherapy which will be difficult and not a little gruelling. She’s started doing stretches every day and paying very close attention to her body. But the problem is that she hasn’t always pay’d such close attention to her body. The message here is this: look after your body, look after it in the good times, look after it when you’re flying and when you feel invincible, look after it then and it will stick with you in the bad times when you need it most.


M.A.F Profiles: Kilian Jornet, The Miralce Man Of Mountain Running

A Fine Line official trailer. from Summits of My Life on Vimeo.

Kilian Jornet Burganda can often, on investigation, seem impossible. That he is the greatest endurance athlete of his generation is clear, but that title actually quite cruelly downplays his exceptionality. Yes he is the greatest in his sport (sports), but it is the margin of his greatness that really sets him apart. In his 24 hour races he will almost always win by at least a clear hour from the other competitors. Last year he ran the 165 mile Tahoe Rim Trail, on his way he stopped only two times to sleep on the floor (his combined sleeping time was under 90 mins), in the darkness of the night he lost his way and ran an extra 6 miles to get back on track, he finished the trail in 38 hours and 32 minutes a world record. This is all incredible and amazing, but hard to judge for those who do not know the sport, so here’s some help: he beat the previous record set by Tim Twietmeyer, who was long thought of as the greatest ultrarunner of all time, by seven hours. 


Jornet is, according to his own mother “not normal,”. “My mission is to make Kilian tired.” She says “Always, I was tired, but Kilian, no.”

By the time he was 25 Jornet had won every major race in his sport and broken every record. He announced himself at 20 when he entered the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc in Chamonix, one of the primary and most competitive events in the ulta running calendar, he won and he won well against a highly competitive field including the sports best known runner Scott Jurek. He also set a new record for the course, and won it again the next year. And the year after. So not bad really.

“Don’t think that you need to run, need to train, that it’s an obligation. It’s just. Go out and enjoy it, because then it makes it so much easier. You go to the training because you like it, you feel much more relaxed, you don’t take something too seriously. I think it’s important to do sport in a serious way, but don’t take it too seriously”

During the summer Jornet, like a lot of us, goes for a jog before breakfast. He laces up his shoes and steps out his front door and then he runs close to two and a half miles (vertical miles) up Mont Blanc and then up into the mountain world that exists above 15,000 feet. He’ll run across a landscape of snow and ice, of jagged glaciers and past climbers, pro and amateur, he’ll get home in a clean 7 hours. It is a journey most spend days completing. Often he does these runs only stopping to drink from streams and eat wild berries. Kilian Jornet is not simply the miracle man of Mountain running, Kilian Jornet is a miracle.