The battle to be my favourite Olympian is intensifying. For a couple of days, it was Alan Campbell, the bronze-medal-winning rower. Anyone who has to be physically lifted out of a boat, unable to speak or walk, has achieved a level of effort that transcends achievement. One of the things I like most about the Olympics is how it redefines ‘try-hard’ from playground insult to compliment.
But now there’s also Edith Bosch, the world judo champion from Holland who took on the drunk guy who apparently threw a bottle on to the track just before the men’s 100m final. And beat him, by her account, which I find extremely easy to believe, since anyone drunk enough to start being a nuisance in a venue guarded by the police, the army, and surface-to-air missiles is probably not thinking very tactically.
After all our fears about security at the Games, it turns out we didn’t need to worry. Given the large number of judokas, wrestlers and boxers in this year’s Olympics, any miscreant will be thrown, grappled or punched before they can do any real harm.
There was something peculiar about the medal ceremony at Wimbledon on Sunday. At first, I thought it was the welcome but unusual sight of Andy Murray smiling. Then I realised it was Roger Federer, wearing his Swiss Team tracksuit. It must be, with no doubt, the cheapest outfit he has ever worn. His critics have scoffed at his fondness for custom-made kit with his initials sewn onto it in gold, but it’s one of the things I love about him: he’s at work, so he wants to wear something nice. I hope he’s back in designer clothes for the US Open, or I shall have to write in to Vogue and ask them to stage an intervention.
Ben Ainslie seems like a thoroughly decent chap, and like all great athletes, he is vastly less excited by his victories than anyone interviewing him. He remained completely calm as the BBC’s interviewer reached a pitch so high that any bats in Weymouth must have been flying off course. I like a hard-won win more than an easy one, so his gold medal seems particularly sweet. Especially since the BBC keeps showing him in post-race, mid-event fury, declaring that his Danish rival ‘didn’t want to make me angry’. I love how this makes him sound exactly like Dr Bruce Banner. Hulk sail.
To the delight of many, Oscar Pistorius has competed in this year’s Olympics, a simply astonishing achievement for a man born without fibulas. And to the delight of a few, he has failed to qualify for the 400m final. The disabled-bashing that he has endured is breathtakingly unpleasant: he should know his place, it seems, and stay in the Paralympics where he belongs. The bigotry is dressed up as something else, of course: health and safety concerns (he might endanger the other athletes with his blades), or issues of equality (he has an unfair advantage running on springy carbon fibre). I think we can safely say that having no lower legs does not give him an unfair advantage. You can tell, because no other athletes are having their legs amputated to compete more successfully. And as for the wellbeing of other athletes, it speaks volumes that his rivals are hugely unconcerned by the prospect of Pistorius’ blades impeding them. Kirani James, the 400m world champion who ran in the same heat, said simply, ‘He’s out here making history, and we should all respect and admire that. I just see him as another athlete’. Perhaps his spectators could do the same.