An International Olympics

This is a huge week. Huge. NASA landed a moving laboratory on Mars. MARS. And suddenly scientists became cool with this guy (not that I’m complaining – he just set the bar kind of high). Curiosity landed at about 3:30 PM Tuesday, we gathered in the staff room and streamed NASA TV.

Fish-eye view of Mars. From Mars. We went there yesterday. (via NASA)

Oh yeah, and the Olympics are going on. They are being aired live here in Australia. I have heard more than a few complaints about the time-delay of NBC’s coverage, but I’m not in the States, so let me tell you about Australian coverage. They start here around 5PM, with a break at 6 for the news. Then they run until about 9AM. The women’s 400m was at 6AM local time. I missed it. I did see the men’s 100m at 6:50, dragging myself out of bed after staying up until 2AM to watch diving.

Let the games begin! (via

I don’t really want to complain about the time-difference issues. I am 9 hours ahead of London, and that’s just the way it is. I think I’ve only been in the same time zone as the Olympics twice – Atlanta and Vancouver. I do think it’s worth noting the terribleness of Channel 9’s coverage.

Channel 9 is the only free channel with Olympics with the rest of the coverage on Foxtel (cable). We tried to get Foxtel, but our house was ineligible. All of the coverage is online, but only for Foxtel customers. So I am stuck with Channel 9. They have three free channels, but two show the same exact broadcast and the other plays reruns of the Big Bang Theory and bad movies.

It stands to reason that Australian TV would show Australian athletes, but do we really need to watch over an hour watching field hockey? Luckily there are a lot of sports that both Australian and Americans are good at, so I got to see a fair amount of swimming (the races I was up for) and didn’t have to watch badminton. I sat through a bunch of rowing (if the commentator said “this is the race of their lives” one more time, I was going to fly to London and take the microphone from him), and more canoe slalom events than I knew existed two weeks ago (I have found my new sport, watch for me in Rio!), but there was no coverage of the gymnastics until this week.

Go Sally, Go! Sally Pearson competes in the hurdles. (via

Because they only have one channel to play with and there are so many sports and athletes they want to cover, they bounce around a lot. On the one hand, it’s great to be able to see so many sports (and all of the Australian teams have great names – the Kookaburras, the Opals, the Boomers, and the Hockeyroos), on the other, it’s hard to build (or keep) suspense in an event when they don’t show most of the competitors. Or have any idea of what’s going on if it’s dressage. That looked like a great discus throw, Mr. Australian Olympian, but I have no idea if you are going to qualify or not, because I don’t know how far other people can throw a discus.

If I’m not sure how I feel about the ADD nature of the coverage (I saw it described as watching TV with a person who can’t keep their hands off the remote control. Having watched TV with my sister, it suddenly occurred to me why the format seemed so familiar), I can definitively saw that the interviews have been unequivocally terrible. That’s right – I just used definitively and unequivocal to describe the same thing. Deal with it. Since Australia hasn’t been doing so well with the gold, but pretty well with the silver, bronze and 4th, these interviews are bound to be awkward. There have been tears, there have been self-recriminations, there have been genuinely joyful statements about just being at the games. But the questions always start with “We thought you were going to win, how does it feel to get second?” It’s awful.

There were no Australian competitors in the 100m men’s final, and they couldn’t get Usain Bolt for a while, so the anchor of channel 9 interviewed – wait for it – the OTHER REPORTERS. I kid you not, he asked the other talking heads “how does it feel to have WATCHED Usain Bolt?” From the studio. Not even in the stadium. (Full disclosure: I don’t actually know where the studio is, but I don’t think it looks out on the track). I had woken up a little after 6 to watch the event. When I heard that question it was a little after 7AM and I went back to bed.

Even the mascot got facetime with Bolt before the Australian media (via USA Today)

They did have a great interview with Michael Johnson, Daley Thompson, and Linford Christie, but I can’t seem to find a video. It didn’t make up for the other one. Even if they have re-aired it twice (at least) since Sunday.

Australia has been underperforming expectations. They have a long standing competition with Great Britain. There have been two main reactions to this: either they say “Australasia is doing really well” (combining medals with New Zealand moves them up to ninth) or just setting their sights at New Zealand and forgetting GB altogether.

A conversation on tonight’s broadcast:
“We just have to beat New Zealand”
“We’ve forgotten about Great Britain”
“We can let them have their day in the sun”
“It’s raining”

Time differences aside, I’m looking forward to waking up at 4 on Thursday morning to watch my friend Stacie Powell in the 10m platform diving prelims. As an astrophysicist and an Olympian, this is an even bigger week for her. Go Stacie!

P.S. With only one channel to watch, there are only a few commercials that show. They mostly suck, but this one is great. Go Australia! (especially the girl at 0:40)


~ by Genevieve on August 8, 2012.

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