Qualifying Standards

Well, the Olympics are finally over. I have to say I didn’t see much of the games themselves, although I did catch Mo Farah’s excellent run in the 5000m final and afterwards reminding us all that one can be a great athlete as well as humble and likeable individual. I see that Team GB (and NI) have done remarkably well in landing a haul of 29 gold medals, well up on Beijing 2008.

Many of these were in sports I know nothing about (such as Keirin and Dressage, both of which sound to me like items of IKEA furniture) but I’m perfectly happy to accept that winning any Olympic Gold medal is a remarkable achievement and requires not just talent but dedication and hard work. I hope the success of Team GB inspires others with the thought that succeeding in doing what’s difficult can be rewarding in itself, whether or not it leads to personal wealth.

I have just a couple more days here in Copenhagen, where the weather has been lovely throughout my visit. Here’s a gratuitous picture of one of the city’s lovely parks in the sunshine:

I’m feeling a lot better for having been here for the last week or so. The people here have been so very kind and understanding. I have to admit, though, I’m a bit nervous about going back because: (a) I have more medical tests to go through before I start on a proper programme; (b) quite a big backlog has built up of things I have to do; and (c) I have to face the colleagues and students I’ve let down so badly over the last few weeks and try to find a way of making up for my dereliction of duty.

The next big thing when I get back to work will be admissions. On Thursday (16th August) the A-level examination results will be officially announced and the clearing system opens for business. Only then will we find out how many students we’ll have entering the first year in October. We think things have gone pretty well on the recruitment front, but you never know until you see the final numbers. Fingers crossed.

Anyway, with the results having been published, there’ll no doubt be the usual discussion in the newspapers about whether the Olympic Games were easier this year than they were in our day….

6 Responses to “Qualifying Standards”

  1. “discussion in the newspapers about whether the Olympic Games were easier this year than they were in our day”

    Stephen Jay Gould often used sports (usually baseball) to illustrate scientific or mathematical points.

    • Anton Garrett Says:

      Which was not particularly wise of him given that English is pretty much the world language of science and baseball has never properly taken off anywhere outside North America.

      • Actually, to coin a phrase, it is quite big in Japan.

        I played baseball for a few years when I was young. It is probably the only team sport which appeals to me at all (as a player—except for gymnastics and figure skating, and those long ago, (both of which have an artistic component, of course) I’ve never been much for spectator sports). It is one of the few team sports where a) the two teams aren’t doing the same or similar things at the same time and b) the individual performance is quite quantifiable because almost all situations involve the direct interaction of very few people and are easily categorized. As such, it is probably similar to cricket, though I don’t know if cricket fans have the same obsession with statistics as do many baseball fans.

      • Assuming your definition of North America stretches down all the way to Brazil and jumps the ocean to Japan and Korea, yes, you’re right.

    • telescoper Says:

      Baseball (or “rounders” as it is called over here) is quite popular in the United Kingdom. It’s generally played by small children before they have developed the skills needed to tackle proper sports, such as cricket.

  2. Enjoyed the photograph of the Park. In Aotearoa we are just coming into Spring Tuis singing, Kowhai (beloved of Tui birds) blooming. In terms of Olympics our athlete who does train hard, live well and is a great role model, Val Adams, has been awarded the gold in her event after the person who’d thrown further (on the day)was revealed to be a cheat – had used performance-enhancing drugs. Val had the disadvantage of NZ officials not being supportive of her and getting admin details crucially erroneous. She’s a worthy medallist.
    To you -good luck ploughing back into academia.

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