F— yes! Crazy golden week where stars and also running made us blink, damn proud

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We will. What a week of Aussie Olympic glory, sports fans, with no less than fourteen (14!) gold medals, three silver medals and an array of glorious, bronze bullion draped around the necks of our bronzed Australian beauties, these folks are all champions.

Because whether they’re first, second, third or still active, they’ve done their very best in these trying and turbulent times, and they’ve made us citizens of the great belted nation-state of Australia blink their eyes damn proud.

And they seem like pretty nice people too.

What a week.

We started off as we always do with gold in the pool when “The Terminator”, mighty Ariarne “Arnie” Titmus twice defeated the “greatest swimmer in history”, the awesome Kathleen “Katie” Ledecky (who also seems kinda nice).

In the 200m and 400m freestyle, Ledecky and his company tried to burn Titmus early. But Titmus, patiently, came from behind and plowed over her rivals like a determined swimming robot; giving us a vision of her family and dear old Dawn Fraser, bouncing around Noosa, grandma in a cramped position, spilling bubbly wine at brunch as her coach Dean Boxall channeled The Ultimate Warrior and upset some of our American friends.

Good crazy times.

Success elsewhere in the group allowed a colleague in this sports gibber game to associate the words ‘gobbledegook’ with Zac Stubblety-Cook, surprising gold winner in the 200m breaststroke.

Kyle Chalmers proved he was a good egg at 0.06 seconds behind Caeleb Dressel of America (winner of five golds, it’s nice that America gets something) in the 100m freestyle.

And our Amazon Super Women burst onto the field in the 4 x 100m freestyle, setting a new world record. Fastest and best swimming squad ever. Go them.

Oh yeah. And Emma McKeon won gold in the 100-meter freestyle, 4 x 100-meter freestyle, 50-meter freestyle and 4 x 100-meter medley, and seven medals in total, the most a woman has won in a single game in the pool and the same for every woman, every sport, every Games ever.

And Kaylee McKeown (no relation, they have different surnames) won golds in the 100m and 200m backstroke and 4 x 100m medley, while dropping an F-bomb on TV.

So yes, the swimmers had a fair meeting as befits the citizens of the world’s largest island.

Meanwhile, in the frothy white water of Kasai Canoe Slalom Center, Jess Fox bumped one of those dangling pole things into her kayak, costing herself two seconds and a gold medal in the K1 women’s slalom.

Two days later she was back in the number 1 bib, waiting, the last canoe in the field (sitting not kneeling, two-finned paddle not one) and we rode her down the river as so many gigaliter of frothy, swirling white water threatened her boat out of the banks as much wreckage and/or jetsam.

Yet she went on, flawlessly. And won by three seconds. And up we shot from our couches as her father was edged dumb with emotion in the commentary. And here we found perspective, a take-out of this Games of the XXXII Olympiad: For every athlete on a four-year journey, their fellow travelers are people, family, love. Now, now – don’t get in tears.

It was hard not to when The Matildas defeated Great Britain 4-3 in an absolute ball-tearer of a quarter-final football match. On the way to the Games, these people were in worse shape than Covid protesters. Maybe not bad. But pretty bad.

And yet there they were ripping and tearing, equalizing 2-2 in the 89th minute before saving a penalty and scoring two more goals in extra time. And when they reached the semi-finals – the furthest from Australia ever in Olympic competition – they looked happier than happy clappers in rapture.

Big rap for skateboarding coming to the Olympics after so many decades as an outlier and outlaw. The average age of the athletes seems to be 13 and they are on a much cooler and indifferent wavelength than most people.

I like them, those funny little furry skate rats with their piercings. unkempt melons and cool, dangerous stunts best personified by Peruvian Angelo Caro Narvaez’s backward-arsed-bollocks-bollard-stopper you’ve probably seen on the internet.

And while Australia didn’t win a medal in the street version (a kid looks good for the antennas), Japan won two golds and one bronze, and if an Aussie can’t win, support the locals who love the meek have it for a while had.

Like their skateboarding cousins, the freestyle BMX squad has had a blast convincing people that their sport is one, let alone that it should be in the Olympics. Y
and watch the two gold medal-winning sixty-second expression sessions of Logan’s Logan Martin swinging his bike and himself over the jumps and bumps of Ariake Sports Park, and you’ll agree: It’s gymnastics on two wheels. It should be at Cirque Du Soleil. And Logan’s run earned Australia’s only land-based gold medal to date.

The fastest man on land is Lamont Marcell Jacob from Italy (Italy!) who seared into history with 9.80 in the final of the 100m. Our Rohan Browning won his heat in 10.01 seconds and finished fifth in the semi-final with 10.09.

Brandon Starc jumped higher than any Australian in the 2:35m, but finished fifth behind Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar (Qatar!).

Back in the natural element of Australia and Matt Wearn from Fremantle, a southerly wind town so famous it has a name (“The Doctor”), all it took was to stay afloat and the final race of the one-person Dinghy Laser for men to finish for gold at the Enoshima Yachting Harbor in Fujisawa City. He did it and he did it. And Australia had its most golden day with a daily medal of four.

And we looked at our flag, the fourth on the gold list, above Britain, France, Germany and the Russians representing their Olympic committee, and thought, Well. What about us.

How about when we won two gold medals at the trot on Wednesday when the latest incarnation of the ‘Oarsome Foursome’, the four of our men, went gold half an hour after our four women did the same? Rowing, sorry rowing, could be – that is – the world’s most boring sport to watch live, a race lasts two kilometers and lasts six minutes and sitting by the river you look at water for all but ten seconds of that .

You would rather stare blankly into space. But on the TV when you’re dragging guys backwards on their way to eternal glory, obviously incredibly rooted, it’s… it’s good. Top stuff, rowing.

Top stuff also includes 48-year-old table tennis lady Jian Fang Lay who is in her sixth Olympics after representing Australia in Sydney, Athens, Beijing, London and Rio. She grips the racket as if she were holding a pen (a grip known as a “pen holder”, which is unusual) and swaps the bat during points to knock it off both slippery and dimples (which is considered more unusual than skateboarding at the Olympics).

Lay would lose in the fourth round of singles and the team’s round of 16 event, but won many fans for the fast-twitching wrist sport of table tennis. Good luck to her.

And good luck to us, Australia. One more week of this and lockdowns are bugged, we’ll be jumping through our living rooms with Dawn Fraser in a headlock.

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