Wednesday 22 November 2017

Eamonn Sweeney: The good, the bad and the murky of a week in Brazil

'Murphy probably didn't get her fair share of the limelight.' Photo: PA
'Murphy probably didn't get her fair share of the limelight.' Photo: PA

Eamonn Sweeney

It's been a pretty uneventful Olympics for the Irish, hasn't it? You'd pity the poor journalists out there trying to cobble together a few stories to fill space. If only something utterly unexpected could have happened to add a bit of excitement. If only . . .

But before we get to the Bad and the Murky, let's not forget the Good. It's an awful shame to see Annalise Murphy being elbowed out of the headlines after a string of terrific displays, not least in the final medal race, saw her win the Olympic medal in the Laser Radial class she came so close to in London four years ago.

Read more: Annalise Murphy casts London 2012 heartbreak aside to claim Olympic silver

Olympic silver medals are not such common commodities in this country that we can be blasé about them but given the week that was in it, Murphy probably didn't get her fair share of the limelight. It's somewhat ironic that before the games participants in aquatic sports were warned to be careful of the shit in the Rio water. As it turned out it's been the shit happening on land which has almost swamped the Irish team. Even Thomas Barr's terrific fourth place in the 400m hurdles final, the best run by an Irish track athlete in the Olympics since the glory days of Sonia O'Sullivan, was overshadowed by a man in a dressing gown coming second to the Rio cops in his race for the bedroom door.

Read more: 'Hopefully I can inspire a new generation' - Annalise Murphy after securing historic silver medal

The Bad was the decision which denied Michael Conlan his second Olympic medal. But also the attempts to use this decision to pretend that the disastrous displays of the Irish boxers at the games have been the result of conspiracy rather than underachievement. That particular shit doesn't hold water and won't float for very long.

Read more: A Miserable year for Irish boxing

Which brings us to the Murky. A nation which likes to bang on incessantly about the sinister behaviour of foreign countries at the Olympics has come out of the games with the gold medal for looking like a banana republic. Ours is the most high profile doping offence of the Rio Olympics, ours is the Olympic scandal to beat them all.

Maybe this is ironic. Or maybe it's inevitable. We like to get on our high horse and wonder why the British media don't 'ask the hard questions' about their Olympic success. But Pat Hickey has not exactly been deluged with hard questions in the past, has he? In fact in the days before the OCI boss was arrested in Rio, the opposite was the case. Our media was full of tributes to the craftiness, the wiliness, the sheer Tefloniness of the man who represents the Irish Olympic movement on the world stage. The Brazilian police seem less impressed by these charming Hibernian qualities. The world at large is probably also withholding its admiration.

We seem to be the Olympic champions at noticing the mote in others' eyes while ignoring the beam in our own. Right now that Irish beam is big enough for Simone Biles and Aly Raisman to do routines on it at the same time.

Olympics bloody hell. Bloody, bloody, bloody hell.

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