Ronan's Rant

Ronan McSherry

Good riddance to the Olympics

2016 Rio Olympics - Boxing - Preliminary - Men's Bantam (56kg) Round of 16 Bout 177 - Riocentro - Pavilion 6 - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 14/08/2016. Michael Conlan (IRL) of Ireland reacts after his bout. REUTERS/Peter Cziborra FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS.

Michael Conlan a victim of cheats at the Olympics.

I’m was glad to see the back of the Olympic games. Good riddance! 

Four years ago when I penned a scathing Rant as the torch was about to be lit in London messages were winged my way from starry-eyed folk deriding my ‘cynicism.’ The feelgood factor well trumpeted by the Beeb had blinded many to what is a convention for corruption, cheating and shysters in suits.

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No sooner had the referee raised the battered Russian’s arm in the air to emotionally crush Michael Conlan, my television went out through the front window. The west Belfast lad who gave his life and soul in preparation let loose a tirade of on-air expletives. He did well not to empty one of the judges on his way to the RTE microphone.

A poor referee is one thing but a ref who blatantly cheats is devastating. Myself and Minty encountered one during our coaching days but that’s a whole other story.

Consider this devastation as described by his brother Jamie, “We were underneath waiting on Michael to come through. When he came out and seen us for the first time, he broke down and was distraught, he was in a bad way, but literally five minutes after he had a smile on his face, chasing his daughter around the stadium.”

If he didn’t laugh, Michael Conlan would cry and cry and cry…  it was time to extinguish the flame, pull out the pegs and collapse the tent. The show was over.

My mother is a wise woman. “We don’t know the half of it,” she used to say. We go to sport as a release from the duplicity of politics, the fat cats, injustice and exploitation.

The Olympic Charter states that among its fundamental principles Olympism “seeks to create a way of life based on the joy of effort, the educational value of good example, social responsibility and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles” …bla bla bullsh*t.

In 1972 when I was but a boy, Flying Finn Lasse Viren was setting world records at middle distance running. It emerged years later he was a running chemist shop, aided by the dubious practice of “blood doping.” 

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In 1980 apparently the Russians opened giant doors in the stadium to allow a back wind to aid their javelin throwers while they were firmly shut tight for other competitors. You’re right Mum, we don’t know the half of it.  

Ben Johnston famously crossed the line in Seoul in 1988, the eyes standing in his head like a myxomatosis rabbit. ‘What have the fastest man and the fastest animal got in common?’ was the quip doing the rounds. They are both cheetahs.

Then our own Michelle Smyth ran in the shallow end and Cian O’Connor’s horse was on the waccy baccy. The spoil-sports are what it says on the tin. They hang suspicion over many wonderful honest athletes who are upholding what was vaulted as the Olympic spirit of ‘fair play’.

There was concern that Mo Farah would not hear the bell during his race as he had failed to hear it when the drug testers called to his home.

At least 120 athletes at the Rio Olympics were previously suspended for doping. A stagggering 25 of them won medals at the games. The biggest race for many athletes takes place in the laboratories as they try to stay ahead of the drug testers.

But sure around these parts, there are folk telling us, you do whatever you have to do to win and if that means taking a dive, telling his opponent his sister is a dog or feigning injury so be it. Who knows where or what the cut-off line is.

Meanwhile the President of the Olympic Council of Ireland, Pat Hickey was hiding out in his dressing gown as the police battered on the apartment door investigating a ticket scam. Considering most of the venues were half empty it was a clever operator who managed to sell-off tickets at exorbitant prices.

The Olympic Council of Ireland says it will defend itself “to the hilt” after Hickey’s arrest.  The most oft-times used words in Ireland these days, “(Add name) denies any wrongdoing.”

The antics of the US gold medal swimmers were a laugh all the same, after they claimed they were robbed in Rio. CCTV later contradicted their story and showed they had vandalised a petrol station. It has been suggested the signs on the swimming pools in Tokyo 2020 will read, “No running – No bombing – No heavy petting – No lying about being robbed.” My mother also used say, “You can watch a thief but you can’t watch a liar.” That was before the era of mobile phones and CCTV.

However it would be churlish not to acknowledge there are true Olympians who embody the spirit of honesty and are not driven to win at any cost, fair or foul.

They included the wonderful O’Donovan brothers from Skibbereen whose interviews were the highlightof the entire games. “Close your eyes and pull like a dog,” was their credo as they rowed to glory.
Paul mischievously ended their first interview after they clinched silver medals with “Tiocfaidh ár lá.”

There is now huge interest in Michael Conlon among the professional ranks. His day will come.

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