Aussie whingeing the biggest disgrace in swimsuit row
Want to know the biggest disgrace about the FINA world swimming championships to date?
It’s not swimsuits. It’s Aussie bloody whingeing.
Look, no one denies swimming’s governing body FINA could scramble an egg just by looking at it. No one’s saying we don’t need clarity in this swimsuit shemozzle, and no one is claiming that swimmers are breaking world records on talent alone this week.
But I’ll tell you who’s complaining the loudest. Us.
When other swimmers smash records in the new breed of super suits, it’s a blight on the sport. But when our girls and guys strike gold, as Jess Schipper did overnight Thursday, out comes the old line about “it’s the swimmer, not the suit”.
Aussie Aussie Aussie. Whinge whinge whinge.
The problem here is that we’ve got priors. Remember Ian Thorpe’s “seal suit”? What about the sleek hoodie Cathy Freeman wore in the 400m final at Sydney? Winged keel, anyone?
I’m not saying any of these innovations were illegal. They weren’t. But neither, according to the letter of the law, are the current crop of polyurethane fast suits. And they won’t be until January 1, 2010 at the very earliest.
I know, I know, Michael Phelps has complained too, mostly through his mouthpiece Bob Bowman, who apparently doubles as his coach.
What Phelps/Bowman and everyone else seem to be missing here is that technology is always evolving in every sport.
No one’s telling Tour de France riders to ditch their 6.8kg bikes for the 16 kilo beast I ride to work.
I haven’t heard too many people saying Ricky Ponting should abandon his Kookaburra bat for the virtual fence paling Bradman used.
What, should we take away Steve Hooker’s super-bendy titanium pole vault pole and lend him the behind post Leigh Matthews once snapped?
Fact is, the only reason anyone’s jumping up and down about swimsuits is the speed of the technological arms race. In most sports, technology evolves year on year, Olympiad on Olympiad, giving everyone a chance to catch up – provided of course they’re from an affluent nation.
In this case, the technology has advanced so fast that manufacturers literally can’t cope with demand from spoilt athletes from developed nations. Which means anyone who doesn’t have the latest suit to roll off the production line has as much chance of winning gold as Eric the Eel Moussambani. Take it away, Roy and HG.
So yes, it’s up to those guardians of morality and goodness FINA – they of the morning swimming finals in Beijing – to sort out this mess, which in their inimitable way they more or less have done, maybe, starting soonish, we hope.
But in the meantime, Australia would do well to drop down the whingeing table a few rungs and concentrate on improving our woeful position of seventh on the official medal table.
I mean, really. Since when is the headline Technology Creates Uneven Playing Field a fair dinkum news story?
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