Sceptic, at 7:00 I was trying to get Mrs. R. out the door. Typically, she was running late.
And Epykat, your family's generosity knows no bounds, but a whip round will not be necessary. Again, in typical Mrs. R. fashion she did not want me hanging around "making her nervous", so it was a case of just dropping her off. I am now under strict instructions to get the shed fixed before she comes back. (Some of its timbers are badly warped after a summer of alternate soaking and baking.)
Anyway, back to the important stuff:
Little did I think when I was writing in June about the Mutoid Waste Company making a come-back that just a couple of months later their work would form such a prominent part of the Paralympic closing ceremony. Wasn’t that fish with the hub-cap scales something else?
And now the parade has passed by I’m already suffering from withdrawal symptoms. I have never seen so much great sport as I have over the last month and a half. And probably won’t again. (It’s unlikely that we’ll get the same in depth coverage next time round either.) I’m sure that everybody will have different high spots, but for me, in no particular order, it was:
Mo Farah, what more is there to say?
For the Rathbone family, the only event we (well, the eldest Rathbonette and her partner) were at was the Archery. The Mexicans who turned up in full national dress and had a fiesta were brilliant.
Ellie Simmonds winning the 400m freestyle with a world record. Over those last 50m she was like a little torpedo streaking away from the rest of the field. To use a very over-used word at these games, it was awesome.
The Wheel Chair rugby match between USA and Canada. Talk about a needle match. Enough to make the murder ball epithet stick.
Tom Daley jumping in the pool after his last dive. That was a smile of pure joy, beaten only by that of Sophie Christiansen’s after winning the gold at the paralympic dressage.
Alex Zanardi sitting laughing and legless on the racetrack, one arm punching the sky and the other holding up his racing bike.
Greg Rutherford’s long jump gold. As he had already won it, it meant Rutherford's final jump was effectively a leap of honour and he was roared down the runway by an emotional crowd. He did not make the jump, running through the pit. In a funny way it was more fitting than jumping and possibly coming short.
Which one of the wheelchair races to choose? 800 m, 1,500 m, 5,000m or marathon? They were all great races and David Weir won them all. Oh, go on then, the 800m final.
Richard Whitehead’s storming through the field from the back with that astonishingly ungainly style on his prosthetics to win the 200 M gold, just so that he could tell us: “I am living proof, that with enough desire and determination, any obstacle can be overcome,"
However, if I have to choose my top three they are:
Anthony Ogogo beating world number one Ievgen Khytrov - much more impressive than his bronze medal fight. The British boxer was under pressure from the start of the fight but he defended well and, after landing some good combinations on the No1 seed, he found himself 5-3 ahead at the end of the first round. In the second round, Khytrov came out strong and landed some heavy punches. Once again, Ogogo defended well but a late onslaught from Khytrov saw the Ukraine fighter win the second round 7-6. Ogogo still had the overall lead, however. The final round saw more of the same from Khytrov, who kept Ogogo close to the ropes for much of the three minutes.The final score was level on 18 points each and when the final scores of the five judges was added up, both boxers were level on 52 each. It really was a cliff hanger. When the five judges then pressed the button to decide who won and it was Ogogo, I actually punched the air. I haven’t done that for years.
If something epitomised the olympic and paralympic spirit, it was Houssein Omar Hassan completing the 1500m seven minutes after everyone else, to a standing ovation. Finishing in 11 minutes 23 seconds, Hassan may have recorded the slowest 1,500m run ever witnessed at a major championship and yet 80,000 people recognised his courage and were on their feet cheering him to the end. This was nothing to do with incompetence but everything to do with pride, courage and determination. To fight through the pain barrier just to complete the course as the only representative of his country, Djibouti, sums up what the Games are all about.
And David Rudisha’s 800 m race was probably the best race I have seen in my life and I have been watching and taking part in athletics for over fifty years. He destroyed that field. He challenged the rest of the runners so much that Andrew Osagie, who came in last, ran a time that would have won him the gold medal in Beijing. Rudisha’s kick on the back straight was nothing short of phenomenal. To be able to do that at the speed the pack was going is amazing and the fact that he just went faster and faster was more amazing still.
It was touching that afterwards he dedicated his race to Seb Coe, who held the 800 m world record for longer than any one else (16 years) and it is perhaps fitting that he became only the second man to run faster than Seb Coe at the games for which Coe was responsible.
At 23 Rudisha is still at the start of his career. I know the area of Kenya that he comes from quite well and have been running myself on the dirt tracks round Kilgoris. Who knows, perhaps one of the young lads who passed me on those morning jogs on the Mara seven years ago was Rudisha. I’d like to think so. I look forward to watching him run in Rio.
I have nothing to say and I'm going to say it.