COLUMN: Dave Leaderhouse — Aug. 15, 2012

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Dave Leaderhouse
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The Summer Olympics are over for another four years and for the first time that I can remember, I am having withdrawal.

Normally I don’t get too excited about the summer variety of the Olympic Games because to be honest, I just don’t get some of the sports that are included in the competitions.

Take the cycling for example. Now don’t get me wrong, cycling is a great sport, but to have so many variations doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Like the one where two racers start at the same time and they are barely crawling along for two or three laps and then suddenly for one final bell lap, they let loose and then it is over. Or the one where a series of riders are in a line behind an old guy on a moped and after several laps this guy pulls off like the pace car at a NASCAR race and then for two laps the race is on. Why not just let them loose at the start and not have someone in the way?

Other sports that made no sense to me were mountain biking and BMX racing. Those are X-sports in my opinion and should not have been on the itinerary, but then it looks like I am blasting cyclists when really I’m not, I just don’t understand why they were being held.

There are several other events that never caught my fancy, but they were part of the Games and I endured through them. The absence of baseball and softball still leaves me scratching my head, but who am I to pass judgment on those decisions?

Why the interest this time around? It wasn’t because Canada was being world beaters by any means as we managed to win just 18 medals, including one gold.

I think the main reason was the television coverage provided by CTV, TSN and Sportsnet. It was absolutely fabulous! Those networks had all the bases covered and the announcers had certainly done their homework as their broadcasts were informative and entertaining.

It’s a shame that they won’t be able to cover the next Summer Games as CBC has been awarded the 2016 event in Rio de Janeiro. They have some big shoes to fill and I honestly don’t think they have the personalities that CTV and TSN have to even come close to doing what was just done in London. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think so.

I wonder if Brian Williams will try and get back on with CBC after he made the brazen move to leave that network several years ago when CTV got the bid to cover the Games in Vancouver and London. That would be hilarious because he was the one broadcaster who I couldn’t watch during the past two weeks as his commentaries put me to sleep.

Having been to London several times also made it a little more interesting for me as I could watch the coverage and see things I have seen in person. That made a huge difference because when the last Summer Games were held in Beijing, China, I had nothing to relate to where the competitors were. This time around was different.

Controversy always draws attention too and these Games certainly had their share of that. Funny how a lot of it involved Canada! Take the soccer match against the United States for example. If those weren’t the two worst calls in the history of the game, then I’m missing something. Good for the girls to speak up about it and better yet for them to rebound against France and win the bronze medal although they are very lucky the score wasn’t five or six nil for the opposition.

The 4x100-metre relay was another disappointment although in that one, rules are rules. Disqualifying a team because a runner stepped on a lane line doesn’t make sense to me, especially when they run the same track at a longer distance and it is full body contact once the first lap of the 4X400 is completed. Canada finished third in the 4x100 relay; it’s as simple as that. They just don’t have the medal to show for it.

Another bit of controversy was in the women’s trampoline. Canada won the gold, which was awesome, but we should also have won the bronze. For some reason though the judges felt that the one competitor, even with her less than perfect finish, was better than Canada’s flawless performance. Judging in those events would be so difficult, but for someone with an untrained eye like mine to see the difference doesn’t make things any better.

And, there was the horse that was disqualified because it had a scratch on its leg and on and on. Canada might have gotten the short end of some of the decisions, but they persevered and that is something we as a country should be very proud of.

We came up a bit short of our goal to be top-12 in the medal standings, but we were right there all the way and that is probably the biggest reason why I was so enthralled in the Games. Even though a lot of our favourites didn’t achieve the results they were expecting, the underdogs surpassed their expectations and that is what makes the Games so exciting.

I’m still a Winter Olympics guy, but these last two weeks had me glued to the tube whenever possible. Way to go Canada and great job CTV, TSN and Sportsnet.

 

Dave Leaderhouse is a reporter with the Prince Albert Daily Herald.

 

Organizations: Olympic Games, NASCAR, CBC Prince Albert Daily Herald

Geographic location: Canada, London, Rio de Janeiro Vancouver Beijing China United States France

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