August 22nd, 2008

New Zealand

Ear infections and the Olympics

Well, so much for my optimism that I would be back "tomorrow" with another LJ entry ... a week ago. My health evidently just hates me. I've come down with a very unpleasant infection in both ears. When it struck on Sunday night, I very nearly called 000, the pain was that extreme for about three hours. Fortunately, it then went down slightly and I was able to get to sleep and see the doctor on Monday morning - who seemed rather surprised by just how bad and how quickly it came on. So now I'm on a stack of medication, antibiotics and painkillers, to control it and an associated fever. The worst part is the ringing in my ears, which is just about enough to send me insane. I now have the utmost sympathy for tinnitus sufferers. I just hope I'm well soon, as I'm sick of missing university, I'm sick of staring at the same four walls at home, and I'm sick of being almost unable to interact with anybody away from the Internet because I simply cannot hear them!

However, all this time at home has turned me into a complete Olympics junkie. Watching the US and China win everything has become tedious to the point that I support anybody against them, even Australians as a last resort, though Channel 7's over-hyping every Aussie medal is just about as bothersome. My personal favourite moments have been watching the lesser-known countries win medals, including the first medals ever to countries such as Bahrain and Togo, and Nick Willis's incredible resurgence to win bronze for New Zealand in the 1,500m run was nothing short of thrilling. Of course, there's also the amazing win in the 105+kg weightlifting by Matthias Steiner of Germany that he did in memory of his deceased wife. And Usain Bolt's staggering 100m and 200m world records can't go unmentioned; I just desperately hope that man is not on drugs, because if he's not, wow, what a freak. So much for Michael Phelps.

What I have found quite interesting is the debate over what sports should and shouldn't be included in the Olympics in the wake of the cut of baseball and softball after these Games. An interesting point I read a couple of days ago and find persuasive is that if an Olympic gold is not the highest achievement in a particular sport, its credentials for inclusion are questionable at best. In other words, golf should not be added since an Olympic gold won't ever match the Masters, and baseball's cut is fair since the best baseballers in the world are not even competing in the Olympics. Soccer would also be cut under this criteria, but given its overwhelming popularity as the "world game", it seems even more farcical to cut it than to keep it. Boxing's continued inclusion seems rather questionable, though.

As for those sports that should be added? Softball should return, since unlike baseball, an Olympic gold is the highest level of softball achievement. The moves by squash and rugby 7s to be added certainly have a lot of merit too - it'd pretty much straight away be the most high profile squash event, and after a couple of Olympics, I think winning the Olympic gold in rugby 7s would come to be more prestigious than the annual world championship circuit. I would also suggest Twenty20 cricket; cricket's omission until recently was understandable due to the absence of a sufficiently short form of the game, but the rise of Twenty20 makes it viable. Plus, as I like to say, one billion Indians can't be wrong! If hockey, volleyball, handball, and table tennis are Olympic sports, I certainly think rugby 7s and Twenty20 cricket have a very strong case for inclusion.