If I asked you ‘which Olympics’ we’re about to have, you’d probably say the Rio ones of course. They’re going to be massive and they’re about to hit our TV screens. They’ll show just under a month of world class sport, interesting and entertaining a lot of people. 10,000 athletes from 200 countries are taking part in 42 sports. And everyone will have their favourite. Personally I’m looking forward to the rugby 7’s, and if I’m patient enough I’m promised competition climbing at the next Olympics in 4 years time.
Of course, the Olympics regularly manage to avoid controversy. The politics have been particularly strained this year – and the issues surrounding drug use are regular threats to the games continued existence. But the games have got some serious backers and always seem to be able to continue their long and proud history. We probably all know that they started in the ancient world; and the modern games began in 1896. A sign of this resilience, the media onslaught has already begun. For instance, as part of the advance publicity we were even told, as a matter of importance, when Usain Bolt – one of the undoubted stars – merely arrived in Brazil. So fasten your seat belts for when the competition really starts and get ready to enjoy this sport extravaganza.
But why this level of interest in sport at all? Of course there is the fun and the competition; the learning of skills and the teamwork where that happens. ‘Sport England’ have some ideas. They suggest that taking up a sport is a sure-fire way of avoiding many illnesses and they cite lots of studies to reinforce their case. They calculate that in this country 15.8 million people over the age of 16 engage in a sporting activity at least once a week.
But are these the only athletic international games? We know there are the Paralympics and the Commonwealth Games. However, there is also an increasing interest in other, more endangered sports. At the World Indigenous Games (above) you get tugs of war, spear throwing, log carrying and apparently football played on all fours with the head, amongst other things.
And if you want a really wacky approach to the whole idea of coming together to have fun in a vaguely ‘sporting way’ there are always the Alternative Olympics held in Wales. Here you get bog snorkeling ( really!), underwater hockey, wife carrying ( everyone can take part), and sprinting in high heels.
Whatever your tastes and wherever your curiosity takes you, there’s something for everyone out there. All you have to do is go and enjoy it.
I'm semi-retired after a successful and much enjoyed career in education. Funnily enough, my last job was as a tutor for OOL. I taught on courses providing professional training for school support staff, as well as A level English Literature and English Literature GCSE. I've had an interesting career, in schools, colleges, adult education, the Arts and a few other bits and bobs. At one stage I was also a local authority inspector. Now I'm a school governor, and am enjoying watching my young grandchildren go through their own first experiences of school. Through these articles I hope to keep you up to date with different aspects of education news – and also to keep you interested!