Over the course of the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio De Janeiro my viewing focus will predominantly be on women’s sport as I look forward to being able to see female athletes and sportspeople compete in a range of disciplines and competitions which has always been something of a rarity with the majority of televised sports world wide being male focused.
Over the first two official days of the games the main sports I have been watching were Beach Volleyball, Field Hockey, Rugby Sevens and Handball with a small amount of All Round Gymnastics. Of those sports which I have also had past experience of watching Male versions of, I have noticed that when there has been a better side, there has been a landslide victory with a close game being a rarity in the Women’s game. The most prominent examples of this has come in the Rugby Seven’s with GB and Canada (4th and 3rd in the world respectively) being physically superior to the other teams in their pool by a long shot with multiple cases of Brazillian players being thrown around and palmed off like rag dolls in their games against the sides. Also within Field Hockey especially the Netherlands 5 Spain 0 the gulf in class has been clear. The reasons behind watching Handball has been that at each Olympics I try to watch and learn a new sport and being one I had occasionally played at school it was the one at the top of my list. Beach Volleyball has always been a sport of interest having played both versions of the sport growing up, but seeing the game in a 2 vs 2 format rather than 4 vs 4 has opened my eyes to the more tactical and mental element of the sport. Gymnastics is an ever present must watch at any major national or international tournament for me due to the sheer level of respect I have for all competitors. Having a few friends who have dedicated their whole childhood to the intense physical conditioning, strict dieting and other “Bodily Modifications”* required to be able to compete at the top level it has become clear how incredible there sacrifice has been for near perfect levels of human fitness so anyone involved in sport cannot be faulted for becoming superhuman.
*Breast Wrapping, preventing their breasts from developing so they can continue to complete the complex movements without obstruction
My two nations of these five sports so far have been; Canada and The Netherlands. Only the Dutch in Field Hockey have been completely successful so far with them being beaten convincingly in Handball by the French despite an 18-14 scoreline. The game had only been kept that tight by the efforts of my Dutch Athlete of the Games so far, the goalkeeper, Tess Wester who made several top class saves including one responding to a counter attack returning from the sideline to make the block. Canada likewise have not been entirely successful with their efforts despite making their way to the Rugby Sevens Semi Final to be played against Australia with a heavy shock defeat to Team GB who put in a defensive display which was arguably the best of any Rugby in the past few years. However their stand out player and Canadian Athlete of the Games so far has been number five Ashley Steacy who’s kicking and back play has been an instrumental play-making part of Canada’s play allowing them to introduce the more established Jen Kish and Brittany Benn.
With Seventeen Days left to go there is plenty more action to look forward to and hopefully across more sports, women’s participation will take centre stage and increase at a grassroots level internationally in consequence.
Please share and comment your thoughts, I’ve been Crag Banna…signing out.