The best thing about the Olympics can be viewed through Peter Collins late night on RTE.
Collins has been given presenting duties for the late-night show from the Rio Olympics, and he's having a feckin' great time.
He's been released from behind a desk, and freed from the rigid format of presenting live football, Collins has roamed the studio like a seanachai touring the west of Ireland, wandering from the desk to the sofa and back again, via the big TV screen and that fancy touchpad. He's used this new format to experiment with his words. Here's what his introduction to synchronised diving:
And now, a sport we only watch every four years, yet its precision never ceases to amaze.
Oh, and for the record, Cristiano Ronaldo is a big fan!
Collins on RTE after midnight is a little like when Andy leaves the room in Toy Story. You half-expect Collins to organise the production staff into some kind of civilised society and lead them on whimsical adventures while the live sport is being shown. But in a couple of weeks time, scheduling will return to normal, and all we will see of Collins is back in the Soccer Republic chair.
But this novelty is what is best about the Olympics. Just flick on the TV late at night, and dive into whatever sport happens to be on. Because you only have to think about the sport for whatever length of time it is on, it can be enjoyed purely for what is happening.
Because you only have to think about the sport for whatever length of time it is on, it can be enjoyed purely for what is happening. It's not like football, rugby or GAA, sports which keep on happening over and over again, requiring you to glean a certain depth of knowledge to maintain conversation with your friends.
But with Olympic sports, you just have to flick on and enjoy, freed from the tyranny of having to concentrate to analyse the nuances regarding the tightness of a gymnasts' Yamowakee for future conversations. (That's not rude. We think).
We in the Balls office have been having as good a time watching these obscure sports as Peter Collins has had presenting them, so some of us have decided to pick our favourite.
Mick McCarthy - Canoe Slalom
Mark Farrelly - Synchronised Diving
Have you found the edge of your seat? Because that's where you are right now.’ The funniest part of this piece of commentary from the BBC’s Bob Ballard during Monday’s synchronised diving was that he had hit the nail on the head.
Five minutes earlier I had never watched a second of the sport in my life, now I was a fully-fledged diehard. My housemate and I watched on with a mixture of confusion and suspense. All we had learned was that the less splash as you entered the water the better and being a ‘bicycle length’ apart from your partner was a disaster.
Then the moment of clarity arrived. The Chinese stepped up and unleashed a forward four and a half to die for. You didn’t need an ounce of diving knowledge to realise that what you had just witnessed was perfection. The very last dive saw the British secure bronze in the most dramatic fashion and, just like that, it was gone from our lives again. I for one cannot wait until Tokyo 2020.
Mikey Traynor - Table Tennis
Easily the best sport to watch at the Olympics is Table Tennis.
Gavin Cooney - Weightlifting
So, it turns out that weightlifting may be the greatest spectator sport on the planet. On a basic level, it is simply one extremely big man or woman lifting an extremely big thing before dropping it to allow another extremely big man or woman lift it. But it is so, so, so much more than that.
Without wishing to go too overboard, weightlifting probes to the very depths of the human condition.
Having ramped himself or herself up from behind the curtain the lifter (I don't know if that's the right word) emerges from backstage to confront the bar (I also don't know if that's the right word).
Yet the lifter confronts more than simply the bar. He/She is confronting the very limits of his strength. This is not just physical, but mentally also. How brave are you going to be?
The lifter squats down to grasp the bar. (Anyone who has been forced to undergo a torturous Health and Safety day at work will immediately pray he is lifting with his knees rather than hs back). He/She then pulls the bar beneath his chin as he rises; holding it there for a couple of seconds. But while he/she holds it beneath his chin - with veins popping out of his/her skin like rivets bursting out of a cartoonishly overflowing water tower and muscles now adamantine - he/she knows that they're only halfway through.
He/She must then hoist the bar above his head, sliding his legs apart to minimise the effort upon his arms, before slowly bringing his/her legs together to complete the routine. All the time the lifter's body quivers as if it is about to spontaneously combust, that the body would naturally reject this ludicrous undertaking.
Weightlifting tells us about ourselves, also. It is grimly compelling, as every second seems to be the natural prelude to some sickening injury. With every lift, we expect the lifter's knee to buckle and twist in the most hideous way imaginable, yet we keep on watching: it is the Olympic sport closest to the ancient games of the Colosseum.
It is a grotesque, yet satisfying spectacle.
Sorry, I got a bit carried away. But it's good, you should give it a go.
What are your favourites? Let us know.