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Everybody loves a winner - and some of us are lucky enough to actually know one


Whether it’s social media or our desperate need to be relevant, do we really need to elbow our way into the narrative of our Olympic champions? asks Michael Blucher

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Week one of the Olympics done and dusted… how good have they been?

Gold Gold Gold to Australia. Norman “Nugget” May might well be stirring in his grave, given the deluge of medals.

We’ve had Arni, The Terminator – what a cracker she is. And talk about tough. I reckon you could hammer a nail into her and she wouldn’t flinch.

Then there was Kaylee McKeown’s gold in the 100m backstroke.

Kaylee will be forever known now as the “F-bomb girl”, which is kind of sad and funny and good, all at the same time. At least it cements her place in our hearts, and helps us remember she’s not Emma McKeon – she’s not even related to Emma. A trap for rookie swimming fans.

But while we’re at it, Emma – what a trooper she is? One of those people who seem to be operating on 28 hour days – she sure packs a lot in. I’m guessing the 3am starts help.

Ensuring a bit of gender balance, in the men events, King Kyle went within a bent finger of making history with back to back Gold in the 100m free. That would have been nice, but still, he comfortably retains his status as a freak. And Zac Stubblety-Cook – “remember that name” the commentator told us as he hit the wall in the 200m breathstroke. Ok. We’ll do our best.

That’s what is great about the Olympics. Every four years (or in this case five), we have served up to us somebody who nobody bar a small coterie of athletes and coaches have ever heard of, and thrusts them onto the world stage. Giddy up Zac.
The Stubbler. Another Queenslander – how good are we?

The Aussie rowers have also been on fire over at Sea Water Forest, where it’s pleasing to note there hasn’t been a single floating couch obstruct any of the crews. My favourite memory from the Rio games in 2016. “We were racing well until we hit a couch.” Yes – hardly going to help your stroke rating, is it?

Rowing is tough enough without floating debris on the course.

Is there any team sport on the planet that even comes close to demanding the same level of precision and cohesion?

The slightest of schoolboy errors, an oar two centimetres too low on the water, the twist of a blade a split second too early or too late, and it can all turn to hell in a hand basket. Ask the German crew who “caught a crab” mere metres away from medalling.

Yes – the rowers deserve our unconditional respect and admiration. regardless of whether they’re eliminated in the heats, or standing on the podium at the end of competition.

Finally, just to prove there’s something in the water in Australia – our pin-up girl, canoeist Jess Fox, finally achieving her Olympic dream after so many close calls in London and Rio. Gold in the C1 slalom – a special, long awaited moment. A family moment. There are some athletes that you simply have to cheer for, and Jess is one them.

Yes, it’s sure been a big week. A golden week.

My only regret to date is that “name dropping” is not an Olympic sport. Hasn’t there been some special gold medal performances in that discipline?

The number of people on social media, shamelessly writing themselves into the script? Not exactly a new phenomenon, but I sense it’s gone next level in Tokyo.

“My daughter was in “Arianna’s” (sic) maths class at school. Beautiful girl. So proud of her”.

And we’re proud of you for being proud. Shame your daughter wasn’t in Ariarne’s English class. She might have learned to spell her name correctly.

Another favourite: “Our kids grew up swimming against Zac when he was just a little tacker at Chandler”. Fascinating. What times were they swimming back then? Have you still got a copy of the program?

A few media commentators are among the worst offenders – they just can’t help themselves.

“I interviewed Ariarne at a function a few years ago, I knew from that moment she had the making of a champion. Talk about steely determination.”

Yes. no doubt Ariarne still remembers the chat. And the pivotal role it played in propelling her to greatness.

I wonder what would Nugget Norman May say about all this self aggrandisement? “That’s Gold Gold Gold for Australia in the 200m Individual Cringeworthy”.

Can we all just take a small step back and let the athletes – and their coaches and families – enjoy their time in the sun? You might have swapped algebra equations with Ariarne a few years ago but you haven’t been on the pool deck with her at 4.30 every morning since 2015.

End of public service announcement.

On a positive note, I’ve just heard Channel 7 rolling out the dulcet tones of Bruce McAvaney for the first time in Tokyo. And that can only mean one thing.

The athletics is about to start.

How good are the track athletes?

Anybody know any of them?

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