The original tale, ‘Three Men in a Boat’ by Jerome K. Jerome tells of three friends rowing their way along the Thames toward Oxford. The pals consider themselves capable outdoorsmen, though they have trouble with simple outdoor survival skills and tend to find themselves holed-up in local hostelries a little too often. Setting up a tent flummoxes them, cooking on a camp stove proves way too complicated, before they eventually ditch the boat and take the train back to London.
With an anticipated twenty million of us watching the home team play our first knock-out-round match in over a decade, it’s safe to say Russia’s 2018 world cup has been a success. And even though they went out at the group stage, with a pretty ignominious one-point from a 1-1 draw with Argentina, I’d also like to highlight that this year’s tournament was another huge success for our North Sea neighbours, Iceland.
A couple of months ago a pal of mine, a half-decent middle-distance runner decided that, for his birthday treat, he would finally run a marathon. Wanting to avoid the palaver of buying an entry place, early-morning start and getting to the venue, ignoring the roaringly supportive crowds, trouble at the drink stations and having to get his completion medal framed, he simply set his garage-sited running machine to 26.2 miles, opened the door, put the fan on and ran the allotted distance.
Even though I desperately want to be European, I am British. However, as the Winter Olympics have clearly demonstrated to me, I have precious little patriotic spirit and even less national pride. The highlight of the last couple of weeks was undoubtedly Elise Christie crashing-out with nothing to show for her lifetime’s ‘sacrifice’ (and immediately committing to do the same for another four years until Beijing 2022, quickly followed by the plucky Japanese curling underdogs who consigned po-faced Eve Muirhead to sport an even longer-face than the one she wore for the eleven day-duration of her tournament.
It’s oft repeated that, in terms of sporting achievement, trophies are won in winter and collected in summer. With the ‘feel-good’ new year initiatives now well & truly in the past the hard work to get fit, or keep fit, now kicks in. The good news is that if it’s the latter you’re looking to ‘maintain’ then daily activities do indeed go some way to helping you achieve this. Walking to the shops, taking the stairs as opposed to the lift, getting a wiggle-on with the hoover, carrying the shopping home as opposed to letting Alexa call Ocado, will all do their bit for you.
OK, OK, OK, enough already. Chris Froome. Regular readers will already know what I’m going to say as it’ll come as no surprise that I still haven’t quite got over his unwarranted ‘La Toussuire’ attack on Sir Wiggo of Bradley! Chris Froome is a ruthless, opportunistic, self-centred so-and-so. Born in Kenya, these traits reared their ugly heads again as he ditched his country of birth in the blink of a lottery-funded British Olympic eye and adopted Brailsford’s ‘marginal gain’ mentality at all costs.
I don’t follow football, I support Preston North End. Boom Boom. I know I’ve used that before but it is true to say that I’m not really all that bothered about the beautiful game anymore. Mind, having said that I still felt strangely attracted to the World Cup draw for the 2018 event in Russia and I wasn’t disappointed. No, it wasn’t the leggy Soviet beauties on show, or the irony of Diego’s ‘hand of God’ placing England in such an easy group but seeing me ol’ mucker (we once shared a barber’s chair dontchaknow), Gary Lineker, betraying everything I thought he held dear.
And just to show you that cycling doesn’t have the over-competitive streak all to itself, recent revelations have rocked the usually discreet world of vowels, consonants and blanks. Yes, the dark side of competitive scrabble has raised its head and Allan Simmons, National Scrabble Championship winner, has received a three-year ban for cheating!
I’ve commented in the past about Team Sky TUE (therapeutic use exemptions) debacle and Sir Bradley of Wiggo’s supposed asthma condition and was intrigued to see if the Beeb’s documentary ‘Britain’s Cycling Superheroes: What Price Success?’ was going to shed any more light on the murky subject. And do you know what, it did, but not perhaps in the way British Cycling wanted it to.
Notwithstanding that within only a generation the digital revolution has transformed society beyond anyone’s prediction, I’m delighted to report that, to me at least, sport remains true to its old staples of kicking a ball of various size and shape either between two sticks, over two sticks or hitting it into a small hole and over a boundary rope with said stick. So, it was with some alarm that, along with other insomniacs, my eyes were half-opened early this morning to a world I truly did not know existed: eSports.