A couple of days ago the BBC broadcast a one-off ‘Olympic special’ version of Superstars, that hoary old TV standby that has been airing here and there since the early 1970s. It featured a medium-stellar cast of British Olympic medal winners prepared to look daft on television, and one of the biggest stars of the summer Games: Mo Farah. On the 4th August last year I was in a packed pub in Knightsbridge in London screaming ‘GO ON!’ at a TV screen as Mo held them all off to take gold in the 10,000 metres – one of the highlights of the Games for me and many others. Barely four days later, he won the 5000 metres as well. Just glorious.
Anyway, someone thought it would be a good idea to have archery in the mix for Superstars. However, ‘a good idea’ was about as far as they went, in terms of execution. You can watch the segment here – it’s around ten minutes.
It’s basically a straight up have-a-go-at-archery day, with Samick trainer bows (with the branding on the limbs covered up, naturally), Jazz arrows, full size target faces, and, egregiously, no distance specified. I mean, they don’t do that for the running events, do they? Imagine that: “Just sprint to about, ooh, there should do it.” It looks like about ten yards or so. The ‘oche’, the split screen, and the black cyclorama unfortunately gave proceedings just a hint of the much missed Bullseye. Speaking of ‘bullseye’, the commentator pulls at least one of them out of the bag [smacks wrist]. Still, at least no-one mentions Robin Ho… oh, Iwan Thomas. You did.
Given how seriously pisspoor a bunch of top Olympic athletes are at barebow shooting, I suspect none of them had more than half an hour’s training (as the commentary pretty much admits). If you’ve completed a archery beginners’ course, take comfort in the fact that you can most likely thrash an Olympic gold medallist at at least one sport.
Let’s have a look at a couple of people’s technique:
Here we see Nicola Adams (gold, boxing (flyweight)). Stance looks good, head a bit tilted though, and her bow arm needs to be straighter…
Mo Farah (gold, 5k and 10k). Bow arm looks better, but your rear elbow is too high, Mo, and your draw hand is crooked (like I can talk)…
Michael Jamieson (silver, 200m breaststroke). Much better. Head straight, mostly in line, but a four finger draw? Dear me. Still, he won, if you’re interested.
As for the bog-standard vapid commentary and talking-head links: least said the better. Although this is, of course, endemic to modern TV. Nothing can possibly be allowed to happen without cutting away to a couple of people who barely know anything more about the subject than you do filling in thirty seconds. What do you reckon? Well, Gabby… (or Gary, or Hazel, or John…)
I’m not expecting miracles from an entertainment programme, and I appreciate the limitations of time, but some of the other sports weren’t treated quite so casually. For the swimming round, they got (Beijing gold medallist) Rebecca Adlington in to train the competitors. (Did no one have Alison Williamson’s phone number?) The sprint races were timed and started professionally. They got Paul Dickenson in to do the commentary, just like a real major championships.
Archery? “Oh, just do whatever.” Must try harder.