Home' The Wellingtonian : August 2nd 2012 Contents 19
THE WELLINGTONIAN, AUGUST 2, 2012
A hard day's night for London 2012
Not so fab: Sir Paul McCartney performs during the Opening Ceremony of
the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27.
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Two jarring moments detrac-
ted from an otherwise out-
standing London Olympics
Former Beatle Paul McCartney,
hair dyed, face lifted, really
struggled to belt out one of his
signature songs, Hey Jude,atthe
end of the show.
It was the sort of stage that in
years past McCartney would have
relished, with 80,000 spectators
inside the Olympic Stadium in a
party mood. But McCartney
looked like what he was: a
70-year-old rocker desperately
trying to cling to his youth.
He was a long way removed
from his Beatles days.
wasn't the saddest sight of the
That was Muhammad Ali, the
70-year-old former world heavy-
weight boxing champion.
I'm not quite sure why Ali was
even brought to London. He's an
It's not as if the English don't
have enough sports stars of their
own. Steve Ovett or Sally
Gunnell, both world champion
athletes, would have been more
Ali lit the Olympic flame in
Atlanta in 1996. He was 54 and
just managed to steady his
Parkinson's-ravaged body enough
to perform the task.
He was lauded at the time and
given the respect he had earned,
because of what he had done in
and out of the ring.
Sixteen years later it was dis-
tressing to see him so lifeless and
He stood shaking, wearing dark
glasses, hair dyed jet black,
propped up by his attentive wife
Lonnie. There was no suggestion
he might be able to wave, let alone
Those close to Ali say he is
totally aware of his surroundings,
but is simply unable to convey
that physically. I hope that's the
case, but it didn't look like it.
Ali is my all-time sports hero.
I consider myself fortunate to
have grown up in the era of Jack
Nicklaus, Rod Laver, Pele and
Peter Snell. But Ali is my per-
sonal No 1, as he is for many
sports fans of my generation.
I loved the way he boxed, and I
enjoyed the colour he brought to
the world of sport.
But that was a different Ali.
The ailing man who was on
show in London was a reminder of
how cruel his sport can be.
When he bounced into England
in the 1960s to take on "Our
'Enry" (Henry Cooper) twice, and
another Englishman, Brian Lon-
don, Ali was about the liveliest
sports star on the planet. He was
charismatic, always ready with a
quip and immensely likeable.
When he fought Cooper in 1966,
he stepped into the ring wearing a
huge crown. The English didn't
know what to make of the brash
and brazen American, but they
sure wanted to watch him.
Everything he did was outland-
ish and newsworthy.
It wasn't a shock to see him in
his current state, because he's
been suffering from Parkinson's
since the early 1980s and it has
been really debilitating for the
past 15 years.
Even so, it was immensely
Perhaps the 15,000 athletes
competing at the London
Olympics could take one lesson
from watching Ali.
They should train hard and
strive to win.
Maybe even more importantly,
they should enjoy their youth,
their time in the sun.
You never know what's around
Paddlers brave cold
for popular event
Wellington kayakers have been braving
the cold and Evans Bay will provide the
venue on August 4 for the fourth race in
their winter series.
Depending on the weather, the race will
begin at either Shelly Bay or Hataitai
The seven-race series, which began in
May, finishes on September 16.
The series has changed from previous
years, which were organised by Wellingto-
nian Chester Burt.
Jorn Scherzer, of the Mana Pasifika
Outrigger Canoe Club, has organised races
at Ngati Toa Domain and Turi Hodges, of
Porirua Canoe Kayak Club, has organised
races at Onepoto on the Porirua Harbour.
The series has attracted waka ama pad-
dlers, stand-up paddleboard riders, surf
skis and kayaks, producing fields of up to
Races start at 10am with distances from
4km to 10km.
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