So near, and yet so far: sadly, Britain’s men’s curling team failed to win Olympic gold yesterday. Actually, it wasn’t particularly near, since they were fairly comprehensively defeated by the Canadians and ended by conceding the match, which seems to me to be a less unbearable result than losing on one last decisive stone. They won the sartorial battle however, largely because the Canadians gave it away by donning outfits that looked like something intended for software salesmen at a large trade fair in Taiwan. What on earth was the Canadian costume designer thinking of? You have a perfectly lovely national flag in red and white and you send your team out in grey polo shirts – and not a nice grey, either, but a meh, don’t look at me I’m only a footnote, really unpleasant concretey grey. And since you ask, yes, they did look like a bunch of shaved grizzlies.
The lovely David Murdoch will take some time out to decide whether, after three Olympics, he wants to return in four years’ time. I hope he makes the same decision as Katherine Grainger, who considered retiring in Beijing after coming second three times in three Olympics. She decided to go on and her look of total and undiluted joy when she crossed the line to become Olympic champion at last was one of the great moments of the London games. It delighted me so much that I called my cat after her (Katherine, not Grainger, although come to think of it, Grainger would also be a pretty good name for a cat). As chance would have it, I later met her best friend at a seminar and told her the story (poor woman). She enquired anxiously whether I shortened my cat’s name. No, indeed, I replied, she’s always Katherine, never Kathy or Kath (or, god forbid, Kat). That’s good, she replied, because Katherine won’t have her name shortened either. Weird! It’s uncanny, isn’t it, the similarity? (Except, of course, that my Katherine can’t row, doesn’t have an Olympic gold medal, and is, of course, a cat.)
Yes, that is the Chinese silver medallist in the women’s short track speed skating seemingly trying to pull the leading skater backwards a couple of yards short of the line. If it is what it very much looks like, it’s shocking cheatery worthy of a Premier League footballer. Despite the misfortunes of poor Elise Christie I’ve decided that I don’t like short track speed skating. It’s a nasty rough sport and I don’t think we should have it in the Games. Instead I’d like to nominate ice swimming. It’s fun to watch, has excellent hats (particularly in the head-up breaststroke), and is remarkably hard to cheat in. (“Oh, and the big Russian has just been disqualified! The judges thought he was merely a very well built boy but it turns out he had a hot-water bottle down his Speedos!” Nope. Doesn’t happen.)
To start the campaign, here’s a picture of me this morning at Tooting Bec Lido, where the water temperature was a refreshing 5 degrees and nobody was cheating at all.