Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Olympic Vacation

After a brief trip to Ireland I am back! I left dreaming of a country where, if everything I was previously told was correct anyhow, the streets would either be paved with Leprechaun Gold or were - in fact - Rivers of Beer! (I think I dreamt of riding down the O'Connell Beer River on a Beer Gondola for a good week leading up to this trip!)

Due to a lack of seniority at work the only week I got off throughout the summer unfortunately coincided with the Olympics. And due to...well, reality I guess...there were no Beer Gondola's or Streets of Gold awaiting me on the Emerald Isle either. But what I did find beyond a nice break from the daily grind was an equally refreshing take on the Olympics, switching up the normal Games routine I was used to and taking it all in from another perspective.

Checking out the sports section of the Ireland Independent News site alone was enough to make me realize things were about to become quite different as the poll that ran the day before I left read: "Do you think that Ireland will win a medal in the Beijing Olympics?" I knew that Ireland was never considered an Olympic power, however I admit I didn't realize there had only been 20 Irish Medals since they first represented themselves at the 1924 Paris Summer Games (which makes the 3 medals they've assured themselves thus far in these Games all that more impressive!).

As one kid said to his friends on the bus trip from Cork to Galway, when discussing Irish odds at these Olympics; "Ireland just can't compete with the bigger, drug enhancing countries of the world!" Needless to say the expectations I encountered over there were certainly not the same put forth back home for our Olympic team. And that really did kind of calm me down, even when Canada struggled to win a medal of any colour at the start it was hard to complain. In comparison to the Irish we Canadians are Olympic gods amongst men!

I had an amazing time on my trip and met many, many people from all over the world - and that was the best part of my Olympic experience, sitting in a hostel watching with an event with Frenchmen, Italians, Spaniards and Americans all together. There was always a mix of that nature when I was able to catch an event, and watching the reactions and emotions of everyone was always fun. Even better though were the polite attempts to surpress reactions when one's country beat someone else's who was likely sitting right there beside them, classic!

The broadcast schedule shake-up I received watching the Games thru RTE, the BBC and Eurosport was also nice, even if I did get a heavy dose of the Brits with their incredible medal improvement, and a heavy dose of Boxing: the Irish specialty! (how a land that includes drinking with every aspect of life succeeds in a fighting sport may remain one of those questions one can never answer...)

A very welcome break away from the norm in many ways, there's nothing like viewing it all thru the eyes of someone else from time to time. Thanks to the changing ways of the Games via Internet, I plan on doing this now as much as possible. And now, back to my regular Olympic scheduled programming.


Tyler King said...

I'd say the reason they don't compete at the Olympics is because early in their history it was GAA sports that were promoted like crazy. It was literally the law that you couldn't play other sports.

Mike said...

Within 2 mins of the 100m sprint final - and that's generous - the Gaelic Football semi-final match shot across all the screens in the pub. I think it'd be hard to dispute your claims there Tyler :)

However, speaking about GAA, after getting my first taste of it this past week WOW! Man they go crazy for it and it's literally like nothing else I'd seen before, I think the only rule is "score" beyond that anything goes!!

Tyler King said...

Heh. Like I said, for decades they were legally required to go crazy for it :P