Couch Potato

It’s too hot for tennis, walking, skating, or pilates, plus the swimming pool is being serviced this week, so the only activity I could possibly approach could be maybe bikram yoga, I wouldn’t even need additional heating, courtesy of the boiling-point weather. It’s too hot even for driving in an air-con car. This makes me feel restless and a bit nervous, but it’s just a couple of days before I leave for some light and leisurely traveling, so I really can’t complain. Unless I feel horribly guilty in front of all these fabulous Olympic athletes. All those carefully worked out bodies, polished techniques and stable mental conditions. I tell myself, you should be out there, improving. Or also right here, stretching.

We’re smoothly into the second week of the Olympics. We’ve seen the women running along the River Thames in a drizzling rain, very young swimmers showing us you swim, Beth Tweddle performing at the uneven bars (breathtaking bronze), Iordan Iovtchev smiling after the rings final, perfectly composed Hiroshi Hoketsu riding Whisper, and the British equestrian team shining bright like promised (and without Whitaker, mind you).

Guilt apart, I’m having a good time. The pink is little too pink in the North Greenwich arena for gymnastics events, but the show jumping is colourful enough, with a lush vertical (or oxer, or liverpool, can’t remember) commemorating Charles Darwin, a red wall in the silhouette of a Routemaster and many other cute details. The water in the cross-country was scary, or at least I found it scary, from my viewing angle as a couch potato.

Being a couch potato can be unnerving. While the Italian commentators are doing a nice job, journalists in the news are constantly whining about Italian athletes not winning enough medals, especially in swimming. What’s more, no one is really talking bout Schwazer. So many athletes who consistently test negative over the years according to WADA are constantly given a hard time by journalists and the public opinion, and now that we do have a doped athlete in flesh and blood, suddenly they go all quiet and thoughtful.

Anyway, have you ever tried to explain to someone that in equestrian sports men and women compete together? When you’re a rider, especially a young rider, it feels just natural. Then you discover that there’s also a cultural side to it, and it’s ok. But when you come to the point where you have to explain it to someone, they just look at you with the most incredulous face, like you’re talking nonsense. Sometimes you just can’t convince them, because the notion is really alien to them. But then again, a lot of people think that couples in figure skating must be married or at least engaged in order to skate and compete together, and when you point out that it would be horribly wrong (not to mention utterly ridiculous) if ISU discriminated athletes according to their marital status, they just raise an eyebrow, like they knew better.

And no, of course there are no separate competitions for stallions, geldings and mares.