AFTER Team GB’s best medal haul at an overseas Olympic Games, that Olympic fever that swept the nation for two weeks is still very much palpable. We sent Quays News’ editor Nathan Salt and reporter Claire King to some of the events Manchester laid-on for the #IamTeamGB day…
First and foremost, neither of us are heading to Tokyo 2020 after three dismal sporting dress rehearsals on Saturday August 20.
Heading to the National Football Museum, just adjacent to Victoria station, where pop-up Olympic sports were being played, there was a sense that this Olympic Games had created a similar ‘legacy’ to that of London.
Admittedly, the Rio Games ended just days ago but whether it be Max Whitlock in gymnastics, Laura Trott on the bike or Adam Peaty in the pool, a nation were captivated on events in Brazil.
That is the power of an Olympics, one of the only occasions whereby people, who were previously disinterested by sport, watch on fixated as commentators scream ‘Gold for Team GB!’
Following on from the news that Manchester will hold Team GB’s welcoming celebratory parade, the two of us who took to the streets for #IamTeamGB day had great expectations…
The actual set-up outside the museum was arguably underwhelming – it had been dressed in rather glorified clothes in the build-up, one could argue.
But nonetheless the competitive edge between editor and reporter intensified with paddles in hand as the lightweight ball swirled and swayed with every shot due to the pick-up of wind.
Were either of us to be the next Paul Drinkhall, one of GB’s shining stars in the sport in Rio? We were less Paul Drinkhall and more Paul Daniels with the amount of times we made the ball disappear down the path…
Team GB failed to win a table tennis medal in Rio with China (6) and Japan (3) dominating proceedings.
It is safe to say, however, that neither of us will be at Tokyo 2020 with a paddle in hand!
Now we are talking.
How often do you get to pull on the fencing headgear, picture the arena and tactically battle? I’ll go with not very often.
This was undoubtedly the most popular sport those in attendance took part in and it certainly helped having two trained instructors on hand.
They explained the difference between the three disciplines, the epee, the sabre and the foil, all of which correspond with the weapon used in the contest.
“I’m quite aggressive so I think fencing could suit me,” my opposite number told me.
What instantly strikes you when fencing is the heat generated from wearing the safety head mask.
It soon became abundantly clear as to why the fencers in Rio continually lifted up their mask in between points – watching it in the moment it seemed an occurrence that happened once too often but, having tried it for myself, the empathy is there now.
Do note that those testing out fencing as part of the day were given plastic weapons – imagine being given a real sabre or foil!
Similarly to table tennis, Team GB failed to win a fencing medal in Rio but Richard Kruse was particularly unlucky in the men’s foil after his 15-13 defeat in the bronze medal match to Russian Timur Safin.
But, alas, our inner Olympian failed to dazzle in the fencing discipline.
The last sport on offer during our time at the museum was football – not even an Olympic sport no matter what others may argue.
Producing one of the standout moments for many when Neymar hit home the winning penalty to secure gold for Brazil, the mission for Claire was quite simple: score, in her unbelievably impractical shoes, one goal past me.
With a crowd watching, well a couple of mum’s watching their kids hammer goal after goal into the net, would there be a Neymar moment of brilliance?
Hardly filling the net the fly-away ball should have given Claire every chance but our sporting prowess had decided to have a day-off quite clearly.
To spare ourselves further embarrassment and no more sports left to try during our stay we called it a day.
Our dress rehearsal for Tokyo 2020 couldn’t have gone much worse after such a big build-up about our sporting talents over the other.
Manchester already has Laura Trott and Jason Kenny to bring home the gold medals – these two writers won’t be sorely missed in Japan…
By Nathan Salt