Gelf Magazine - Looking over the overlooked


August 13, 2012

Zooming In: Cheerio 2012 Olympics

Bringing you the top Olympic stories that aren't covered in the USA! USA! USA!

Justin Adler

Zooming In London Olympics 2012

If hyperlocal was the journalism trend of 2011, then hyperinternational is today's hotness. (It's also possible we just made it up.) That's why Gelf Magazine and Deadspin have decided to showcase the best—or at least the most interesting—foreign-produced journalism with our new feature—Zooming In: The Olympic Edition.

In this oh-so bittersweet final edition of the Zooming In: London 2012, we check out Canadian and Malaysian disappointments, and learn that Aussies also partake in the great American pastime: bitching about TV coverage.

America’s Hat Is No Better Than Uganda, Uzbekistan or Grenada | Canada

“Congratulations, Canada’s Olympic team!” writes Dave Feschuk of the Toronto Star. “You just followed up your country’s greatest sporting moment, the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, by finishing tied with Uganda, Uzbekistan and Grenada in the gold-medal count at the 2012 London Games!”

Such was the response after Canada placed 13th in total medals, and took home just one gold medal (won by trampoline gymnast Rosie MacLennan) from London after winning a world-leading 14 gold medals in the 2012 winter Games.

There were numerous less-than-stellar performances from Canadian athletes. Shot putter Dylan Armstrong won silver at last year’s world championships but only managed to get fifth place in London due to an elbow injury. Paula Findlay, who was ranked as the world’s top triathlete in 2011, finished last in her race because of a hip injury. And let's pour some out for Hickstead, a horse from Canada’s 2008 gold medal equestrian team, who died last year and left the team without its most trusted steed.

Still there were some pleasant surprises, such as Derek Drouin’s high jump bronze, a remarkable feat for Droun who had missed significant training time after tearing three ligaments in his foot. Mark de Jonge, the canoer who retired after the 2008 Games, returned to win bronze this year, despite a broken finger which impeded his training right before qualification.

The Down-Under Equivalent of NBC: Channel 9 | Australia

Ranting about live television event coverage might feel like a uniquely American reaction to the Olympics. Not so: Australians, who watched the Olympics courtesy of Channel 9 (alternately known as Nine Network), felt the same way about the network which held the country's rights to the Olympics.

On Monday morning, ABC News (that's Australian Broadcast Corporation) asked its readers for their highlight of the 2012 Games: the response quickly turned sour, with a large portion of respondents choosing instead to vent about Channel 9. A representative comment, from Steve: "Channel 9's coverage was awful—commentators often inaccurate regarding world geography and culture; over-emphasis on 'Aussie' competitors (the rest of the world often ignored, or patronisingly included); microphones stuck into the faces of gasping, shocked and often emotionally overwhelmed competitors, etc … Of course Channel 9 won't care about this kind of justified criticism. After all, they will make buckets and buckets of money."

Sound familiar? That comment section is only the latest in a series of complaints against Channel 9 that started very early in the Olympics. Back on August 1st, mUmBRELLA had a post titled, "Nine in social media storm over Olympics coverage," which detailed the still emerging antipathy towards the network, and in particular, its obsessive focus on swimming. If you'd like to see a bit of that social media backlash, here's a Facebook group titled "Channel 9 Olympics Coverage sucks—the URL is, and it has 27,994 likes at the moment.

As a tech column from ABC News (Australia) put it, "Within hours of starting, the first rage at Channel 9's soul-crushingly diabolical coverage was hitting the interwebs. It was only matched by the noise coming out of America regarding NBC's horrendous coverage. Both networks seemed to be having a competition to see how much contempt they could generate from their captive audiences."

So there you go Americans—even in our deepest misery, we're not as alone as we think.

Rudisha's Victory Helps Unite Nation Plagued By Ethnic Violence | Kenya

What started out as a bitter Olympics for Kenya—its highly-touted athletes failed to medal in the 1500m event—turned sweet when David Rudisha earned a gold medal in the 800m while setting a new world record. According to Kenya's IPS News, Rudisha's victory was more than an individual accomplishment, as it united Kenya's warring ethnic groups in celebration and joy.

In 2007, Kenya was ravaged by post-election ethnic violence. Following a poorly handled general election, ethnic tensions swelled as Kenyans turned against each other and nearly 1,200 people were killed while another 600,000 were displaced from their homes. Since those mass killings, violence and tension has persisted between the Kalenjin and Kikuyu ethnic groups.

That anger and aggression was put aside, though, when both groups came together to watch Rudisha run his way to gold. IPS News writes: "On the night of Rudisha's win ethnic rifts melted, and it was not uncommon to see men and women from the Kalenjin and Kikuyu ethnic groups, the two main rival groups in the country's 2007 post-election violence, dancing together in jubilation."

Of course, it's hard to imagine that Rudisha's victory alone will permanently heal Kenya's wounds, but many in the country are hopeful that this moment of unity can be built upon. IPS News spoke to a sociology lecturer from the University of Nairobi about the possibility of capturing and maintaining this moment of goodwill: "In the case of Kenyan athletes, if this power of sport can be prioritised and tapped, Kenya would be able to bridge these ethnic divisions which in any case are equally triggered by minor differences," he said.

Extreme Makeover: Olympic Stadium Edition | England

What happens after you’ve had the world’s greatest athletes inside you for two straight weeks? The UK’s Independent lets us know as they interview men's basketball groupies break down the future of every Olympic stadium.

Many facilities will be re-purposed for public or municipal use that will range from exhibitions to training for future Olympic hopefuls, while other facilities will have much more narrowly defined roles.

The Copper Box, which was home to handball, the pentathlon, (and will be used for the Paralympic goalball matches), is the only indoor arena that will not be overhauled or relocated, as it will be used as a multi-sport arena, fitness club and home for the London Lions basketball club.

As part of a £3 billion effort to revitalize east London, the 2.5-square-kilometer Olympic Park will reopen in the summer of 2013 as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

The £486 million Olympic Stadium is still yet to find a permanent tenant, as initial bids at the property resulted in a legal dispute between West Ham United, Tottenham Hotspur and Leyton Orient. While West Ham remains the most probable future tenant, there are still possibilities that the property could go to Formula 1 or a sports business university.

Stratford’s Basketball Arena is one of the largest temporary structures ever built for the Olympics, and it was built with 20,000 square meters of recycled plastic (fitting as the gold-medal-winning US men’s squad wore uniforms that were each made of 22 recycled water bottles). Yet the stadium's future is uncertain as plans to reuse the structure at the 2014 Commonwealth Games or 2016 Olympics have both been shelved. Perhaps the stadium will be recycled again and one day you'll be sipping water from a bottle that was once an Olympic arena.

We'll Get 'Em Next Time | Malaysia

In a nice wrap-up of Malaysia's Olympic outing this year, Malaysian news source Bernama says that the country has high hopes for its first gold ever at the 2016 Olympic games in Brazil, after its athletes walked away with one silver and one bronze from London. "Although gold remain elusive for the Malaysian contingent, Chef-de-Mission Tun Ahmad Sarji said Malaysian athletes were in the frontiers of getting the gold and no longer at the periphery stage anymore," they write optimistically.

The breakout star for the Malaysian contingent was flag-bearer Pandelela Rinong, who won the country's first non-badminton medal ever when she took bronze in the 10m platform diving event. The 19-year-old is also the first Malaysian woman to ever medal in the Olympics.

Kate Bennert, Isaac Rauch, Dan Gartland, Justin Adler and Tom Ley contributed to this article.

Justin Adler

Justin Adler is a graduate of the University of Arizona. He blogs here.

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Article by Justin Adler

Justin Adler is a graduate of the University of Arizona. He blogs here.

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