It’s been my pleasure.
That’s kind of what I wanted to say after the women’s basketball team got finished with its rather impressive run Tuesday afternoon in the quarter-finals with the Yanks.
It was a predictable result – the Americans are head and shoulders better than anyone here – but that’s not what the story was.
The story was this very interesting group of young woman have now restored Canada to a level of prominence on the world stage they haven’t enjoyed in a decade or so.
I can remember many a night in the early 2000s when they’d be at some FIBA Americas qualifier for the worlds or the Olympics somewhere in South America and every night a couple of us would have conference call with Allison McNeill and maybe a player so we could write a little story about the drubbing they’d just taken.
They knew, and I knew, and everyone really knew that they weren’t ready to compete at that level in the post-Sydney era. They were young and, frankly, not skilled enough to compete with Brazil, Cuba, Argentina.
And after every tournament just about, I’d talked to Allison for a wrap up and she’d say something to the effect of “we’re going to get there but it’s going to take time. We just have to commit and keep going.”
It had to be hard, no one likes getting their brains beat in regularly with no real end in sight. They could have chucked it all, gone on with their lives and left the game.
But they didn’t. They got jobs in far flung places – Turkey, Lithuania, China, Greece – and played and worked on their games and got better. And every summer they’d come back to the program a little bit better, a bit closer as a team, a bit wiser about what the task was like.
And then they got to the worlds in 2006 and the worlds in 2010 and now the 2012 Olympics and the quarter-final.
It’s been a tremendous story that’s unfolded in basic anonymity for a decade, a story of athletes slogging it out with one goal in mind, to get here. Some women came and some women went, that’s always going to happen. But most bought in, stuck it out, got it done.
It’s not a big story, I guess, never was. But the totality of it, what they did, is an important story and should be told.
I’m glad it got told, I’m glad they got here, I’m glad they were rewarded.
So they put on these little concerts most nights in the courtyard area between the Main Press Centre and the International Broadcast Centre. Usually two or three acts a night and they’ve had a gospel choir, a barbershop quartet, some dancers.
Last night they had these guys, Gentlemen Duke doing something called Country Folk.
But any band with a fiddler and a bass player needs to be listened to.
Attention, world media:
I’ll say it again, especially to the guy who sat next to us in the press centre yesterday and particularly to the fellow sitting beside me on the bus home:
I beseech you in the name of all that’s good in the world.
No, it’s not all fun and games and The Ship here.
It’s work and as I recall, this is how the conversation went:
“What are you writing?”
So there you have it, he’s treacle, I’m tripe, or the other way around.
Seriously, it's not all fun and games and pubs over here; we do do some work.
In the whole brouhaha over the woman’s football and the officiating, the great Michael Farber had the best line.
It takes a bloke of a certain age to get it but when Mike tweeted this, I laughed out loud.
“For Canada. Soccer ref Christiana Pedersen = hockey ref Josef Kompalla. Discuss.”
Zaniest thing I saw yesterday?
Wandering down Southampton Row from the bus to the hotel just after 11 p.m. and there’s a Mexican TV crew walking the other way. Two hangers-on, a guy with a camera, and a fellow talking quite rapidly into a handheld microphone while other people on the sidewalk scattered.
Not sure what they were reporting on, there was nothing at all going on, but it sure sounded like an exciting story.
Hey, you Irregulars have to get up bright and early tomorrow.
Every great needs a caddie and, barring any zaniness like news happening today, I’m going to carry Cathal’s bag up to Coventry for the big football match and I’ll be joining him on what should be an epic IGBT.
Be there, or be square.
Quarter-final day in the men’s tournament and I cannot wait, to tell you the truth.
Going to go and sit through all four games – first men’s hoops I’ve seen since I got here – and the plan is for some kind of day-long diary here on the web later tonight or overnight or whenever I get it done.
Kind of looking forward to it.
And much looking forward to the games – Spain-France, Russia-Lithuania, Brazil-Argentina and USA-Australia.
As I mentioned, thanks to my new career as an archery-beach volleyball-swimming-cycling-athletics reporter I haven’t been to a game but I have watched some and talked to some people and I’m not going back on my original prediction.
I think Spain gets the USA in the end to win gold and Russia’s going to win bronze.
Trust me on that, would you?