The Olympics has caught fire for me at last. Do not get me wrong, I have nothing much against Australians. Okay, half of them are descended from convicts and most of the rest claim to be Greek. They are a bunch of philistines. And you would not want many of them (apart from Clive James, Germaine Greer and perhaps Peter Tatchell) in your pub quiz team. Why is it that the few really smart Australians feel the need to emigrate?
But generally they are an okay bunch. It is just that when they win at sport they are insufferably bad winners. And, damn it, they are normally pretty successful on the sporting field. I reckon that in 44 years on this planet I have suffered enough Australian sporting triumphalism for one lifetime and so I admit to taking an extreme vicarious pleasure in Aussie sporting humiliation.
In that vein there are a few great moments that I shall always treasure.
Kim Hughes crying as Australia lost the Ashes in Oz. Heck, real Aussie men like Crocodile Dundee or Merv Hughes just would not cry. You do not need to have a heart of stone to look back on that footage with fond memories. And Kim was actually a great cricketer.
The English supporters singing “God Save Your Queen” as Wilkinson kicked the poms to victory in the world cup against a backdrop of chippy Aussie Republicanism. As an Ireland supporter I rarely root for England but on that occasion….
The 1981 Headingly and Edgbaston tests. Australia were bound to win. It was their destiny. They were so much better than England but Willis, Dilley and Botham put paid to all of that. The underdogs bit back.
Maybe I have forgotten a few other happy Aussie humiliations? There have been so few. If I have feel free to remind me.
But now we come to the 2012 Olympics medal table. As we all know team GB is (with 16 golds) in 3rd place. Team Australia is, with 1 gold, in 21st place. That is one place below Ethiopia. Put another way, the County of Yorkshire (5 gold medals) is in 7th place. I would have thought that the entire Australian nation is probably now on a sporting par right now with, say, Bedforshire.
I am not sure that back in Sydney this will be playing too well. But it could get better. Just one more gold for each of: Denmark, Canada, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Belarus, Brazil, Croatia, Switzerland, Slovenia, Jamaica, Georgia, Lithuania and Venezuela and team Australia will then be in 32nd place -less than 10 places ahead of Mongolia.
Naturally, on the basis that Ireland will never win any Olympic golds, I wish to see team GB win gold in every event possible. But should that not happen, at this point I offer up a silent prayer for unexpected glory during the next few days for each of Denmark, Canada, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Belarus, Brazil, Croatia, Switzerland, Slovenia, Jamaica, Georgia, Lithuania and Venezuela.
If this causes national distress back in Oz, they can at least look to their monarch to address her nation with a few soothing words.