Highs and lows of Olympics television

GORDON BROWN
Last updated 05:00 11/08/2012
liu xiang
David Gray

OLYMPIC HIGHLIGHT: Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang's dramatic race provided an Olympic highlight.

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The Olympics have once again dominated our screens for the last week and there have been some memorable moments.

With Sky devoting eight channels, 24 hours a day, it is saturation coverage and that in itself has been attracting plenty of positive comments. Prime has also done a good job with its delayed coverage and together, the package has been a good one.

Then there was Jan Cameron, the swimming comments lady. To draw an unkind comparison, it was as if Ena Sharples, the legendary Coronation Street character, was doing the job.

That comparison is particularly relevant to some readers of this column, because a few take great pride in telling me the last time they watched Coronation Street was when it was in black and white and Ena Sharples [wearing her hairnet] was in it. So for you folks, that's how Jan Cameron came across - Ena, without quite as much humour.

In the first few days she was merely grating, but as she grew in confidence, so did her comments and interruptions, to the point where commentator John MacBeth was reduced to trying to get a word in. Shakespeare's Lady Macbeth wanted to rule England but never did, so maybe Jan was ultimately, if narrowly, consigned to the same fate - thank goodness.

Mrs Brown and I have thoroughly enjoyed the Olympics and although most of the commentators were little better than average, Jan certainly made us appreciate what little talent the rest had.

Some of our most memorable moments included:

Valerie Adams getting a silver medal despite the hassles. Mind you, that bloke who won it did throw better on the day.

Chinese 110m hurdler Liu Xiang crashed into the first hurdle and lay prostrate on the track. The Beijing gold medallist could only hop away once recovered, and hopped to the nearest exit only to be denied access by over-zealous officials who told him to hop off to the proper exit. That was at the other end of the track, so off he hopped, in obvious pain, until eventually helped by some competitors. It was probably the worst Olympic hurdles race ever with three others also crashing or not finishing. Hard luck for them, but fun to watch.

Well done to Aussie 100m women's hurdler Sally Pearson, whose gold medal finally propelled the Ockers past the mighty Kiwis in the gold medal count. I was happy for them, though, they've only got 22 million people.

How nice the organisers are these days. Some daft NZ athletics official does her job brilliantly, apart from the small oversight of not entering Valerie Adams, but they still let her compete. Then there was the Kenyan runner who tripped during the 1500m heats, but he was allowed to continue because he was tripped. Finally, the 1500m winner, Algerian Taoufik Makhloufi , was thrown out of the Games earlier in the week for not trying, when he walked some of the 800m race. A couple of [Algerian?] doctors' certificates were produced. He had an injury, but it should be right in 24 hours, so organisers relented and let him back in. To think Nick Willis could have finished eighth if he hadn't been in it.

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There were no annoying ads interrupting Sky's coverage.

Whatever happens, the Black Stick Chicks were great. Their skill, courage and endless frenetic pace was a joy to watch. By the way, whatever happened to the bully to start play?

Get rid of soccer. They're not the best. They play in the World Cup.

Best of all, the final word goes to the New Zealand hockey commentator describing the German team as being "well known for their excellent execution". Oops. History would tend to support that statement.

Now for something completely different. The return of Tracey Barlow has made a difference to Coronation Street plots and livened the show up again. What with her and Becky, or her and Gail or her and … pretty much everyone, it's as if a modern-day Elsie Tanner has come back to wreak havoc. What's the bet she gets Steve back?

The show in its own unique way made a small leap into today's world when Tracey was bemoaning the lack of a man in her life after three years in jail. Her father Ken was assuring her there were plenty of nice men out there, when Tracey corrected him: "Dad, I just want to get laid!" At that point Mrs B said, "see why I don't watch it, except when a few of them are killed in a crash".

Finally, how priceless was the scene when Tracey was confronted by nasty David who was full of menace as he sought to put an end to her making his mum's life hell. Tracey responded as Tracey would, by seducing him. Priceless.

- The Timaru Herald

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