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Olympic Games offer many reasons to tune in

Columnist

Published: Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Updated: Wednesday, February 5, 2014 23:02

Salt Lake City, Turin, Vancouver, the last three Winter Olympics have been memorable for me- partly because I was old enough to remember them and partly because they were like all Olympics (summer or winter) exciting, spectacular and fun.

Now I’m not going to sugar coat it, Australians are pretty good at a lot of things but the Winter Olympics isn’t exactly one of them. Not that we haven’t had our (very small) share of success. Five golds, a silver, and three bronze medals to be exact. I can also proudly say that Australia is the only Southern Hemisphere country to have won a gold medal at the Winter Olympics. Not bad for an island country that’s 70 percent desert.

When the games start tomorrow in Sochi I will most definitely be settled in with my Australian flag for my fellow Aussies. Judging by our previous results and the fact our team is pretty tiny, I’m going to have a lot of down time.

So if you’re like me and are from a less than consistent Winter Olympic country, or you just want some other rationale to watch the games (not that you need any really,) then here are a few reasons to tune in this year.

First, what’s the deal with Vladimir Putin? We’re all thinking it, and if you aren’t then get your head in a newspaper! Russian President Putin promised a lot to the International Olympic Committee to get the games to Russia, and now that they’re here what I’m wondering is can he deliver. If you aren’t into sports then tune in purely for the political entertainment factor, because if the early Tweets from on-site reporters are anything to go by, it’s going to be fairly humorous and maybe even controversial.  

Check out the mascots. Sochi has rounded itself up a pretty eclectic mix of mascots, all without names—other than what they are. Starting off the group we have the Polar Bear, followed by the Hare, the Leopard, and then a cute little couple they’ve named the Snowflake and the Ray of Light. The back-stories on these guys are classic and if you’re feeling even the least bit pessimistic, a visit to the Sochi website to read their stories will set you right on your feet.

Winter sports are really cool. Being Australian, I stand in awe at those brave individuals who will launch themselves off a ramp hurtling through the air, or lift a tiny woman above their head while skating with an extremely sharp blade inches from their heads. Sure the Summer Games are fun, but winter sports have an added edge – just look at the X-games.

Who doesn’t love an underdog? And where better to experience heroic tales of athletes overcoming all odds than the Olympics? This year there are several underdogs I cannot wait to cheer on (other than my Aussies of course). First everybody’s favorite – the Jamaican Bobsled team. After missing out the past two Olympics, the Jamaicans are back and hoping to make history.

My next pick for underdogs of Sochi are the three Indian athletes who are not only funding their own Olympic campaign, but are competing stateless due to a corrupt Indian Olympic Association currently on suspension. Finally my last pick for the underdogs is luger Bruno Banani, formerly Fuahea Semi of Tonga. Banani will make history as the first competitor from Tonga to enter into the games.

Most importantly though, it’s the Olympics! No matter how bitter, sullen or pessimistic you are, the Olympic Games can be exciting. There’s just something about the world’s countries coming together. Even if you aren’t a sports fan, I guarantee there is something you’ll be able to find even slightly engaging about the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

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