TV View: Olympic feat of staying up late watching Tokyo games

Mary Hannigan: From dressage to diving to Taekwondo to loopy, roundy, kicky things

Yuto Horigome of Japan in action during the skateboarding men’s street event of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Ariake Urban Sports Park in Tokyo. Photograph: Fazry Ismail

Yuto Horigome of Japan in action during the skateboarding men’s street event of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Ariake Urban Sports Park in Tokyo. Photograph: Fazry Ismail

 

Paul O’Donovan was probably right when he told Jacqui Hurley that we should all to go to bed and not be sitting up through the night “watching us fools here” when, he reminded us, there’d be repeats on in the morning.

No doubt, it would be eminently more sensible to return our watches and clocks to Irish time and stop pretending we live in Tokyo, to desist from having our breakfast at midnight and being the only pasty folk left in Ireland, what with reports of there being persistent sunshine during daylight hours.

But it gets to two-ish in the morning and you decide to just wait until skateboarder Yuto Horigome does his promised nollie 270 noseslide and then when you’re about to turn in you note the surfing is on Eurosport and the commentator tells you everything is frothy, gnarly, sick and rad and that somebody just did a barrel. So, you wait to see how long it will take the ambulance to come and bring them to hospital.

Look Paul, it’s only a fortnight every four or five years, so there’ll be plenty of time to sleep. And this is the fortnight when we get to see things on our tellies that we rarely see, like a horse jiggin’ and reelin’ to a traditional Irish tune, like a four-footed Michael Flatley. Hooves of Fire, so to speak.

Quite why Heike Holstein and Sambuca missed out on a place in the dressage final was a mystery to those of us who wouldn’t know an uphill carriage or a square halt from a bag of cashew nuts, but the RTÉ commentator (whose name we unforgivably missed, but he sounded very horsey) explained that it was because “the judges are 1 per cent down on prediction”. That was that cleared up, then.

Then there was the diving.

“And now it’s the turn of the Chinese, Shi Tingmao and Wang Han, 2½ somersaults, a difficulty of 3.0 . . . every sinew stretched, every muscle fibre twitching!”

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Gut-wrenching interview

It could have been a description of a Tommy Booooooooooowe try, you’d almost have been thinking Ryle Nugent was Eurosport’s diving commentator. Hold yer horses – it WAS Ryle Nugent. These Olympics are getting more discombobulating by the day.

Ryle was probably relieved that he hadn’t been assigned to Taekwondo because that particular sport brought us two of the more gut-wrenching post-defeat interviews that we’ll likely get all Olympics.

First, there was our young fella, Jack Woolley, whose heart was in smithereens after his first round defeat by Argentina’s Lucas Guzman, in the dying seconds of the contest, RTÉ’s Paul O’Flynn valiantly trying to raise his spirits when he appeared crushed. “I’m just trying not to cry on the telly,” said Woolley, leaving those of us watching the telly trying to do the same.

And later, Britain’s Bradly Sinden suffered a similar defeat in the 68kg final against Ulugbev Rashitov, leading with eight seconds to go, at which point the Uzbekistan lad did a loopy, roundy, kicky thing to Sinden’s head, and the gold was his.

Sinden was distraught, reckoning he’d let all his family down. So, Sky News sent a reporter to his granny’s house in Doncaster to see if this was true. Sky can only show photos from the Olympic Games, so they need grannies in Doncaster to fill their coverage.

‘Sad’ vs ‘proud’

“I’m a little bit sad because we really did think he’d get the gold this time . . . he’ll be devastated,” said Granny Barbara. “Watching him, you feel quite sick actually, I don’t think we’ve eaten today. You’re wanting him to do well and he didn’t . . . well, he did do well. He won silver. We know he’ll be sad about it. We’re sad.”

“But you’ve got to be proud of him,” the Sky man asked. Granny Barbara’s face said: “Well . . .” Ah no, she was, but you’d an awful fear she’ll ask him when he gets home why he didn’t see that loopy, roundy, kicky thing coming,

Then there was our own boxer Emmet Brennan, his post-loss chat on RTÉ leaving us shredded all over again and wishing we could email him a hug.

“I have taken out credit union loans, I worked part-time and trained full-time, the goal was to be an Olympian, but when you get there you want to further yourself and move on,” he said. No consoling him either.

By now you’d be in need of a pick-me-up, so over to the BBC. Ah God. A weeping Jade Jones, trying to make sense of her first-round Taekwondo loss, having won Olympic gold in 2012 and 2016. “I felt scared, I just felt too much pressure,” she said as the tears tumbled. “I got trapped in fear mode.”

So, for every triumphant-nollie-270-nosesliding-Yuto-Horigome, there’s an inconsolable Jade Jones, Jack Woolley, Bradly Sinden and Emmet Brennan.

And for every Naomi Carroll there’s a Naomi Campbell, as Ger Canning inadvertently dubbed Irish hockey’s Clare woman during that victory over South Africa.

A model performance, mind, and that was even before the game started. Their smiley-anthem singing? It’d top any nollie 270 noseslide. Frothy, gnarly, sick and rad.

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