Monday, 30 July 2012
Faster, higher, stronger
We witnessed two women’s basketball games – Turkey winning comfortably against Angola and then the USA overcoming an excellent Croatian team in the final quarter after an incredibly entertaining and competitive match. And it was certainly the place to be if you’re into tall women!
The atmosphere inside and outside the arena was fantastic, the Olympic Park was stunning, the weather was kind and the transport to and from the park was completely hassle-free. We spent over 8 hours in the park and it’s safe to say that we were firmly gripped by Olympic fever – can’t wait to return in a couple of weeks for athletics and volleyball.
Although missing from these games, rugby (in the form of Sevens) will return to the Olympics in 2016 in Brazil. I must say that I’m somewhat ambivalent about the introduction of Sevens to the Games. It’s a form of the game I never enjoyed playing and – although admittedly attending a Sevens event is always a cracking day out socially – from a spectating point of view it’s a game I always find somewhat unsatisfying, lacking the structure, rhythm and momentum of the 15-man game.
That said, there’s no doubt that Sevens is already on the rise across the world and the prospect of an Olympic medal is likely to accelerate interest in rugby globally as well as prompting serious interest in Sevens from the Olympic superpowers – I can't imagine that it will be long before the the likes of the USA, Russia and China start to produce medal-winning teams.
The impact on the 15-a-side game remains to be seen. Whilst interest in rugby as a whole will undoubtedly increase, so far the world’s star rugby union players have focused on the longer form of the game. With Olympic glory at stake, however, and – perhaps more pertinently – the commercial opportunities that Olympic success can bring – how long will it be before the 4 year Olympic cycle becomes more attractive to players than the current 4 year RWC equivalent?