Olympics

I caught more of this year’s Olympics on TV than I ever thought I would and maybe more than I’ve ever watched before.

These Tokyo Olympics have been the best Olympics yet for The Netherlands. “We” have won a staggering 36 medals (10 gold, 12 silver, 14 bronze) this time around, placing us at number 7 in the overall medals table, higher than ever before. There have been some great victories in cycling and sailing and hockey and rowing and riding but the ones I enjoyed most where the Dutch athletics medals. “We” have never been this good at athletics before and one woman was responsible for 3 (!) of those medals. I especially was fascinated by the amazing runner Sifan Hassan who won gold on the 5k and 10k runs and bronze on the 1500m run, which is a trifecta no one else has attempted before. This woman is so determined and so good, it is truly inspiring to see how she challenges herself (in sports and in life) and how it has paid off! She has truly been the superstar of the Olympics over here.

There have been disappointments too but especially lots of great moments for the Dutch at the Olympics…

I’ve been disappointed to not see the Dutch football and handball teams progress further and I have also missed a lot, like seeing any of the tennis tournament part of the Olympics. But then there were also some lovely, heartwarming unexpected moments I saw, like the Italian and Qatari high jumpers deciding to share their gold medal or Simone Biles bravely showing her humanity by admitting to mental health issues and how she dealt with that or British diver Tom Daley knitting away during breaks or last night when, just before the finish line, Dutch marathon runner Abdi Nageeye encouraged his Belgian running partner and friend to follow him so that he too could win a medal. I’ve seen sports I only watch once every four years (if that) and that’s been fun too.

It was nice getting up in the mornings and switching on the TV during breakfast to see what had happened at the Olympics overnight and then popping in now and again during the day to see what else was going on. I didn’t think I’d enjoy watching what I did as much as I did. And now, this coming morning (I’m typing this really late at night, it’s 2.45 am) there will be no more Olympics updates to watch. So, what do we do with ourselves now that it’s all over?

Of course, I can stop being like Lady Catherine de Bourgh in Pride and Prejudice now…

And I guess I can use the time tomorrow to sort through junk in the attic, something I’ve been putting off doing for a very long time, but I’ll miss the excitement of the Olympics…

Stirring news (good and bad)

My son is over the moon excited that his favourite basketball player, Giannis Antetokounmpo, won the NBA championships with his fave team, the Milwaukee Bucks. His instagram stories are filled with pictures celebrating that (I took screenshots)…

And also a little video of Giannis celebrating…

Junior has been walking around the house in his Giannis jersey, basking in the win even now, two days later. This is good excitement!

Less good is the news from a day or two ago that the Norwegian women’s beach handball team was fined for playing in shorts instead of bikini bottoms.

I hope other teams will join them in their protest and that the (misogynistic) rules will indeed change!

And then today I read some Eric Clapton news…

I had no idea he was in the covidiot category and I now find that he is a racist too. Apparently there was even a Rock Against Racism movement in the 1970s formed directly in opposition to what Clapton had said. I had somehow never heard of this before. Bowie in the seventies also made some controversial statements (I did know that) which also led to this anti racism movement but he retracted them vehemently later, something Clapton does not seem to have done. Not that I have ever been a huge Clapton fan but I do like some of the songs he made and reading this caught me by surprise (not in a good way) and made me cringe. I have never given Eric Clapton that much thought or have known that much about him but somehow I had never pictured him being someone with views such as these. Is it a coincidence that there seems to be a big overlap between covidiots and racists? Another example for me that these views aren’t only held by a few fringe lunatics but are more mainstream than many wish to believe. That is scary. So, yes, go ahead, cancel his concerts if he doesn’t want to abide by common sense Covid rules, I’d be fine with that.

Let me end on something more positive: a librarian from Northampshire got a Richard Armitage life-size cut out for her retirement! Lucky woman.

And ooh, I am just reading some more Armitage excitement: Guylty has received a package from the man himself that will go into the upcoming birthday auction that she is organizing! Pop over to her blog to see. The excitement builds! It looks like it may be an item related to this role… or not…

Isn’t it great that there is always some good news to balance the not so good?

Victories, tennis discoveries, and holidays

Last week’s victories

One: On Sunday I got my second Covid vaccination and it feels like such a relief!

Two: My sister in law (well, not officially, but she is my younger sister’s awesome partner) has an autoimmune disease and it was uncertain whether she could even develop Covid-19 antibodies. She’s had two vaccinations and was tested earlier this week and it turns out the vaccination has indeed worked for her and she does have the antibodies now. Yay!

Three: after broad consideration and lengthy discussions my son has decided on a gap year once he receives his diploma in September and we fully support it. He is proactive about it too, has made an initial plan, and we are proud of his ability to follow his gut and do what’s right for him. It was a really hard sell for my mother and aunt, who had all sorts of opinions on it, and then it also became a whole big thing with my mother on other fronts not to do with my son. This has cost me an inordinate amount of energy last week, on top of being ill with the flu, but after a lot of reassurance and explaining, all is right with the world again and I am feeling better (flu-wise and mother-wise). Most importantly, though, my son’s choices have been accepted, which I hope will counteract any possible negative family gossip.


Tennis discoveries

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been following what I could of Wimbledon these past few weeks and there is some really exciting new young tennis talent coming up! I was especially struck by the 18 year old English player Emma Raducanu, who made an impressive Wimbledon debut but had to pull out.

I also loved the 17 year old American quarter finalist Coco Gauff, who had aleady impressed at age 15 two years ago (so, technically not a new discovery for me) and who is only two days younger than my niece in London…

The 25 year old Australian Ashleigh Barty, who won the women’s singles title this year, has also wormed herself into my heart. I probably should know her as she’s the number 1 female tennis player, but I’ve been out of it with the tennis for a long time and didn’t know her before Wimbledon. Now I do and I hope she’ll win more as well.

With the men, the new ones (to me) were the 25 year old Italian Wimbledon runner up Matteo Berrettini who was impressive…

… as was 20 year old Canadian Felix Auger Aliassime (who lost to Berrettini in the quarter final).

And 24 year old Polish player Hubert Hurkacz impressed by beating Roger Federer in the quarter final in three sets, winning the last set 6-0!

I think it’s time to dip back into following tennis more again (a long time ago I used to do so avidly). Now that these awesome young players are coming in, I feel a sense of excitement coming back into the sport for me and it will hopefully not only be the same ones winning all the matches anymore (although, don’t get me wrong, I love Roger Federer and I always root for him). They could all theoretically be my children, especially the younger players (Raducanu, Gauff and Auger Aliassime) who are the age of my own kids. Yikes, I’m really old.


Holidays

As I mentioned in a post a few weeks ago, we have plans to go to France for our summer holidays in a month. We were doing really well here with our Covid numbers and then our government let go of many restrictions, and WHAM! Covid infections are on a steep rise again!

Source

65% of the Dutch population has received one dose of vaccination and about 39% is fully vaccinated but by far not enough people are protected yet. So, the infection numbers are sky-rocketing, especially amongst younger people who have been going out en-masse to discos and nightclubs where most of the infections have been happening. Last Friday during an emergency press conference some restrictions have been put back into place. This sky-rocketing of cases means that our country may become ‘red’ in Europe, which in turn means that travel restrictions for the Dutch may be tightened and this whole France holiday we have planned may have to be canceled. I really hope not, I really hope infections will drastically fall again, and I really hope we can still go on our socially distanced holiday as planned… I love my house, am comfortable in it, but I so need that break abroad. Fingers crossed.

Italy’s having a good year

Earlier this year, the Italian group Maneskin won Eurovision

… and there’s more high profile Italian success to be celebrated.

I’ve been following Wimbledon this year (I love Wimbledon!) and an Italian player I didn’t know called Matteo Berrettini made it to the finals. I’d seen him in the semi-finals as well where he had been impressive but yesterday in the final he lost to Novak Djokovic in 4 sets (Djokovic held on to his nerves better and won deservedly). Still, he won second place at Wimbledon which is impressive and he sure is easy on the eyes as well. I’m sure I’ll be hearing more of this Italian in the future.

And then last night Italy thankfully won the UEFA 2020 European football championships…

I won’t go into it again why I supported Italy, already did so in my previous post with lots of discussion to boot, but suffice it to say I felt more than justified in supporting Italy. Not only did English football fans prove yet again how awful they are (again starting to boo the opponents’ national anthem and I think the TV broadcast then switched off microphones so that it wouldn’t be heard and then later in the game booing when Italy was at the ball) but the Italian play (apart from maybe the first 20 or so minutes) was better too, as confirmed in match statistics. It’s a pity the winner had to be determined by a penalty shoot out.

In the aftermath, the three young Englishmen who missed scoring during the penalties are now receiving a whole load of extremely ugly racist abuse. Thankfully that is condemned but wow, something needs to be done about these so-called ‘fans’. How about banning England fans from stadiums (and social media) altogether until they can behave themselves?

Anyway, back to Italy – I’m very pleased with the Italian win, they deserved it. Richard Armitage has been gracious about the Italy win too…

Congratulations, Italy! 🇮🇹

My goodness, I never knew I could ever get so invested in football. It must be my daughter’s fault. Now that she’s been playing herself for these past two years, we watch it on TV far more. For now, it’s back to normal life and lower heartbeat rates.

It’s Coming to Rome

This past month we have watched virtually all the football matches in the European Football Championships. Well, the kids and husband have in any case, I sit there and watch it half while doing other things. This coming Sunday the final will be upon us and it will be England versus Italy and I fervently hope for this outcome…

(I’ve been seeing this all over Twitter, can’t figure out the souce but I think it’s quite funny!)

I don’t think I’ve ever felt as big of an antipathy towards the English as I do right now, and in this instance most particularly towards the English football fans. The English have always had this island-superiority complex but in recent years (I think I can pinpoint it to the Brexit vote five years ago) the English have felt more and more myopic and arrogant, in the ugliest of ways. I know there are so very many decent English people out there but these past few years mostly the ugly English underbelly has been increasingly showing and that includes current British leadership. Now, with the football, my annoyance with the English is coming to a new boil.

The England fans booed the German and Danish national anthems before those matches started and then booed when the opposing team was at the ball. And just a few hours ago I read that during the penalty shot, during extra time play in the Denmark vs England match, someone shone a laser into goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel’s eye! He went on to do a wonderful save only to have the winning goal pass him on the rebound, but what the….? Is this really the way a host country treats their guests? This is so unsportsmanlike and so arrogant! Where is English politeness and decency?

In addition, there’s also this hysterical “It’s coming home” nonsense. The English have never won the European championships before and just because football was invented in England, it doesn’t mean that is the only true home of football. The aforementioned quite awesome Danish goalie Schmeichel had a nice answer to one such a nationlistic bullshit question an English reporter had…

I was watching some BBC morning TV before the match against Denmark and I got very tired very quickly of this whole “Coming home” business, making England seem like the centre of the universe. I’m boycotting BBC news and sports coverage until after this is all over.

Of course, every country displays pride in their country at events such as these but English nationalistic pride and arrogance are at such a high point in such a disrespectful way that it has just become insufferable to me. I don’t know how it is in other countries but on Dutch Twitter the annoyance with the English is apparent as well and I even hear it in some of the commentaries on TV even though they don’t actually say it (or if they do, I’m not around long enough to hear it).

It’s not so much that we are pro Italy winning this championship, it is much more that we are anti the English winning and it’s all about their arrogance. We were sad the Danes didn’t beat them (they were my faves for the title, although that never was realistic) and I so hope the English will get their butts kicked by Italy in the finals on Sunday and maybe find some humility again. No, I have no sympathy for English football fans, on the stands or at home, right now, they feel alien to me and I am feeling very disappointed that such attitudes can so easily thrive. So, go Italy! I secretly think most of Europe will be cheering for Italy. Brexit all over again.

(Little disclaimer: the English football team itself and their head coach, Gareth Southgate, do seem decent.)