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The Good And The Bad Of The Olympics From An Irish Perspective

The Good And The Bad Of The Olympics From An Irish Perspective
By Donny Mahoney Updated

Balls.ie Irish Olympic all-star: Zaur Antia Billy Walsh gets all of the plaudits, and rightly so, but I think Zaur deserves more praise than he receives. Here's a guy who didn't speak English when he moved to Ireland 9 years ago. I'm sure the Georgian knows his boxing, but Zaur - now the most important wingman in Irish sport - has assumed the importance of a supporting character in a Western or an 80's film - the Richard Pryor to Walsh's Gene Wilder, so to speak. It's unclear what does exactly, but it seems essential to the success of the whole operation. My favourite moment of the Olympics may have been watching Zaur and Billy casually chatting up on the mat after John Joe Nevin's first victory. They could have been talking about the weather or the RVP transder.

Good - Irish boxing team: Six athletes, four medals. Moylette and Joe Ward didn't even compete. Enough said.

Bad - All other Irish Olympics sports: Take away the incredible performance of our boxers and we're left a rerun of 2004 (let's just hope O'Connor's medal doesn't get taken off him again). Our up-and-comers in the pool were poor and our old regulars on the track were left behind (with no real sign of a generation to take their place). A few fourth places puts a shiny gloss on things, but New Zealand won 13 medals with a similar-sized population. The boxers should provide a blueprint for all future success across the Irish sporting landcape, not an excuse for the underperformance in other sports.

Good - Protestant women sports - Remember when Billo cued up some badminton coverage by referring to it as a 'protestant sport'. Turns out our women's protestant sports are pretty decent. Laser radials broke into the Irish sporting consciousness thanks to Annalise Murphy. But let's not forget women's boxing, anchored by arguably Ireland's most prominent Protestant athlete ever.

Bad- Women's 4X400 metre team After all that fuss, sixth place in their heat was pretty disappointing. A penny for Joanna Mills's thoughts.

Good: Rob Heffernan's race walk Most dignified fourth place ever? The time would have got him silver in Beijing.


Good - Irish athletes on Twitter and Facebook: The Olympics provided further proof that athletes do not simply need the mainstream media in the same way that they used to. We all heard RTE's complaints that the swimmers were going to Twitter instead of conducting live TV interviews, but see it from the athletes perspective: ignored for most of the four years between the Olypmics, TV channels suddenly demand priority when the athletes can as easily and directly interact with their fans and friends via social media. The Olympics also provided us with the emergence of Paddy Barnes as a bona fide Twitter star. His celeb stalking and Piers Morgan tweetdowns were two of the top social media moments of the Irish Olympics.

Bad - RTÉ's old guard. Be it Billo leaving 2004 well and truly in the past when dealing with Cian O'Connor's bronze or Jimmy Magee's droning commentary, it was hard to avoid the feeling that many of RTE's better-known personalities are past it and only remain in situ for sentimental reasons. Mick Dowling's 'thinker' clanger and John Kenny's foolish Twitter snipe at Melanie Nocher proves that many RTÉ personalities remain out of touch.

Good - honest Irish athletes Ciaran O Lionaird was underwhelming on the track, but his searing self-analysis after his second-last performance was one of the best interviews we've ever seen an athlete give.



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