There’s no dancing at the Olympics !

Yesterday we were going to my mothers for lunch . Our 3 year old Laura was in one of her non-compliant moods , and was refusing to get dressed so that we could make our way down . The Peppa Pig pyjamas was considered the only appropriate attire for the day and no amount of cajoling seemed to be encouraging its’ being replaced by more suitable daytime clothing .

We were sitting on the bed and Laura was showing me her ‘Olympic Jimfastics’ routine . This consisted of some forward tumbles and a lot of jumping up and down on the bed . I had one year old Kate on my knee and we were both applauding Lauras’ efforts . That was when I had a brainwave . A new Olympic competition was formed called ‘ first to get dressed all by themselves ! ‘

Laura took up the challenge immediately and Peppa Pig was quickly discarded in favour of a denim dress . I was George Hamilton commentating and Kate was the the applauding spectator doing clap handies. Laura was a picture of concentration intent on winning a ‘Goat medal ‘ . The radio was on in the background and when a Ronnie Drew song came on Kate began bopping away on my knee . Laura was not impressed with the lack of interest now being shown by her sole spectator and proclaimed that ‘ There’s no dancing at the Olympics !’

There hasn’t been much dancing for the Irish at this Olympics . Each post competition interview on RTE seems to contain the same phrases – ‘ I was going much better in training ‘ , ‘ I did the best I could on the day’ , ‘We’ll have to take a look at where things went wrong ‘ and the commentators favourite ‘ It will have been good experience for 2012 ‘

The Olympics is special . It is the pinnacle of all sport . It is recognised in countries like the UK that it costs 5 million for a gold medal . The Irish sports council spent 30 million on this Olympics and there doesn’t seem to be many gold medals in sight . Or any medals whatsoever thus far .

In the cycling all riders under performed . In 2004 Ciaran Power finished 13th in the road race . This year Roche was 64th and Deignan was 81st . Ciaran was riding for Navigators in the USA in 2004 whilst both of this years riders are on division 1 pro tour teams . When being interviewed afterwards by Bill ‘okeydoke’ O’ Herlihy , Kelly did not pull any punches and said straight out that their preparation was wrong . Deignan had not raced for six weeks prior to the Olympics and as any under twelve can tell you racing is the best training . Perhaps Lance Armstrong thought differently but six hours in the rain going up and down the actual tour route at race pace was probably a lot tougher than racing for him . Our boys spent 10 days in the Alps with Martin O’Loughlin and Martin seems to have better form than either of the other two after it . Cancellara went straight from the tour to Beijing to recce the course and get acclimatised and he came away with a bronze and a gold .

On the track David O’Loughlin did not live up to what he is capable of . Like many other Irish competitors he was well off his best time this year . That is where the problem lies . Olympians should be at their absolute peak for the Olympics . How do you do that ? Well the first thing that I would do is ask someone who has done it already .

Ray was one of the pioneers of track cycling in Ireland and almost qualified himself for the Olympics in 2004 . He worked with Chris Boardman who is the reason for the huge success that the Brits are having at present . They used their heads and went to Boardman and said ‘ well Chris , you won a gold medal , how do we do that again ? ‘ They did what he said and the results are there for all to see !

Boardman could have predicted the exact result of the Irish team over two years ago . At one training session for the team pursuit in Newport the riders arrived along to the track and there was no one there to meet them . Track sessions are expensive and are booked by the hour . After an hour or two one of the Irish coaches strolled in and asked the lads what they felt like doing .

With guys like Chris Boardman if a training session is to begin at nine am that means being on the track in your gear and warmed up for nine o clock . Each minute of the session is planned out and accounted for and is not up for discussion by the riders .

Now the Irish track team did do some work with Simon Jones who has a huge amount of experience in coaching elite track athletes , and he did improve things immensely but when he wasn’t around everything quickly fell back into the usual laid back attitude .

So what is it we want from the Olympics ? Is it the sense of National pride that we all get from seeing one of our own standing on the top step , facing the tricolour and listening to Amhran na bhFiann . Or is it just the attendance at the Olympics that the goal is . At present that seems to be the case for the athletes . Are we , the spectators , too greedy and needy ? are we looking at success from the wrong direction ?

Perhaps our ladies marathon runner had the best attitude . She had been on holidays with her family in Tennerife when she got a call on her mobile to say that she had qualified under the B standard , and when she crossed the line yesterday in 63rd position she held her arms aloft before bending down to kiss the ground with a big smile on her face . 39 year old Pauline Curley brought a smile to all of our faces . There were no excuses or forlorn expressions in her post race interview . Just a beaming smile and the recognition that she was enjoying every minute of taking part and being in the Olympics . You can be sure that when she got back to the Olympic village last night she was dancing all the way .

So now I have to sit 3 year old Laura down and explain that there is in fact dancing at the Olympics and that it’s not winning or losing that’s important or even trying your best but taking part and enjoying what you are doing that matters . And this really is what sport and life is all about , enjoying everyday and enjoying everything that you do and if you feel like dancing , well dance away !


3 thoughts on “There’s no dancing at the Olympics !

  • August 19, 2008 at 12:28 pm

    Barry, if irish ceili dancing was a sport at the olympics we’d finish last, but perhaps if the performance director was green with pink spots and was from some distant galaxy we would win 5 golds, because the dancers would be scared shit less and obey his every utterance!!!!!!!!

    Bury the idiot patriotism, follow the british cycling model who are now the envy of the world with proper funding, professional attitude, no bullshit and world and olympics medals will follow..

    Thank god for Padraig Harrington, but then his coach and mentor is scottish and has a brain and who knows ” Green with pink spots “

  • August 19, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    Just a quick note on Pauline Curley, the marathoner.

    She was give 2 weeks notice to prepare for an event that takes at the very least, 6 months dedicated preparation.

    She had a crack at qualifying earlier in the year -made the B standard, but not the A standard.
    The Sports council /AAI were adamant that no B standard as to be accepeted, and all athletes accepted this.

    A very late change of heart saw 3 B standard athletes sent to the games, but the other 2 [Chamney 800m, and Carey 400m Hurdles] had been racing right up to the deadline, and could continue to prepare for Beijing.

    Pauline was on holidays when she got the call.
    She quickly worked out that no preparation would help, and accepted that all she could do was was run an even paced race, and finish in one piece.

    The next time I stand beside her at the start of a road race, I’ll be next to an Olympian.

    Well done to her from all at Athenry AC.

    PS. I can’t speak for other sports, but money, plain and simple, will bring improvements in Athletics. Money for better facilities, top coaches, full time athletes. It’s not rocket science in many ways.

  • August 21, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    If I remember correctly Ciaran Power did not race for the 6 weeks before the Athens Olympics and was able to finish 13th so I would not agree totally with that argument. I dont however agree with the view been aired in some quaters that Ciaran should have been selected. The Athens course was tight with a lot of accelerations out of coners which suited him. Bejing had a 13k climb every lap which would have seen Ciaran out the back in my view before Roche. yes Cairan climbed well in some irish races as the same as many have said over the year but he was up againd parttime riders in those races not worldclass riders! I dont understand how Dan Martin was not sent! I for one am sick of seen Irish Athletes happy to just qualify for the olmpics and celebrate been there. Has the country not learned anything from Roy Keane and the 2002 worldcup affair??


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