Monday, 29 October 2012

Synchronised Olympic Viewing

Belfast City Hall Celebrating the OlympicsOK, I'm a couple of months too late with this post, ah what's new! I had planned to follow up my 'Just Days until the Olympics' post with an in-depth review of all I watched, how the games and events I saw played out and what I thought of them, the opening and closing ceremonies as well as the overall experience of watching it on TVs everywhere around Belfast - including the big screen. As it turned out, plenty of time has passed and other than the ins and outs of the games I watched, anything that might be of general interest has already been said in the media. So I'll just show a few photos and a quick paragraph summary of what I thought of the sports I chose to watch.

With Handball, the sport I'd decided to give a try before the games started along with synchronised swimming, it really did grip my attention and threw me in it's net.
I watched several games in full and the highlights of a good 75% of the rest of the games across both the mens and womens games. The thing I liked most about the sport was it's speed and not being faffy like Basketball. Even when the play is stopped as an attacking player is kept at bay, it's usually only a matter of seconds and then it's back under way. I liked that all goals were worth the same score. The scores were often close and a number of games very exciting, the slim difference sometimes made by a fine goalkeeping performance or a clever move by a forward - much like Football and Ice Hockey. Sometimes it got a bit rough too, not in a terrible way but plenty of collisions, in one game there was a series of players being send tumbling, the goalie even ended up in the advertising hoardings and being hit full force in the face by the ball. I couldn't believe I hadn't given this sport a chance before and I can see why it's so popular in the rest of Europe. If the sport ever made it to the Odyssey area or any arena close to home then I'd be sure to do my best to be there.

There was also plenty of other sports we watched a bit of, I really liked the way they had all the sports on the extra channels so you could pick and record whatever you wanted to watch. A few times from the novelty of the big screen in the grounds of Belfast City Hall... along with many other people!

Belfast City Hall Grounds Big Screen Olympics 2012

Also in the grounds for the summer were the brightly coloured cows of CowParade 2012.

CowParade 2012 Belfast City Hall Chilled Cow

CowParade 2012 Belfast City Hall

The other sport that we'd chosen and watched all of was Synchronised Swimming. I knew nothing about the sport before watching it other than the dancing in water part. We soon found ourselves getting pretty good at understanding the rules behind what we were witnessing but unlike Handball it was more of a learning curve as it was more of a performance art rather than a sport in the conventional sense. It was quite a spectacle at times and really amazing how they do it. Often I found myself dipping my head sideways to watch it upside down for they had some half and half over/under water shots and watching it upside down was like watching someone dance with perfect precision the right way up... but the baffling thing was they're doing it upside down in water. I was very impressed. The downside to the spectacle happened to be the excitement (or lack thereof) in the scoring. The scores the nations were getting became very predictable. A lot of the performers had no hope of a medal from the start as their routines just didn't have enough complexity to them. Never the less, it was enjoyable and it's admirable how much the athletes put into it (a years practice for the routines). I'm afraid I doubt I'll be looking out for 'synchro' meets near me, like diving or figure skating, unless you're really involved/absorbed by it on a personal level it's not a sport that would easily be followed by casual interest as a viewer. I would guess participants get more out of it on the whole. On that note, in watching on TV I think we got more of an understanding and insight into the skills used compared to if we had been there. Apart from the movement around the pool, a lot of the details would likely have been lost viewing it from high up in the stands at the poolside.

So yeah, like most people who have since spoken about it and the general reaction from the media, I thought it was great and I really enjoyed the Olympics, a lot more than I expected prior to the games. I loved the opening ceremony, the closing ceremony not so much. The BBC did an amazing job with the multi channel coverage, combined with Tivo it was a breath of fresh air to just be able to record any sport on any day and watch it back whenever we liked. The local nations did amazingly, especially Team GB who kicked ass - belated congratulations to them all and good luck to anyone planning on competing in Rio in 4 years time. Hopefully Belfast will be as on-board with the games then as it was this year, it was great :)

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