A Geography Lesson On The A To Z Of Nations

Hey everyone To me the highlight of any opening ceremony is the athletes parade. I must admit I felt genuinely sorry for the athletes who may only get the chance of competing at one Olympics who couldn’t join their team mates because they had events today. For some people the parade was a geography lesson as they found out the names of some countries they never knew existed.

This I have to say, included some of the commentators, however as Hazel Irvine said that’s the beauty of geography. Nice to see the subject I graduated in (BA Joint Honours with Politics) getting some well deserved & overdue recognition.

As tradition dictates, Greece the birthplace of the modern Olympic movement were first to enter the Stadium. They were followed by Albania & Afghanistan, you know, the countries which the unionists say Scotland will be like if we dare to become Independent & deprive them of their salaries & free ride on the gravy train. Angola Argentina & Australia were amongst other early arrivals & I thought it was very generous of the commentators not to mention the Falklands or in the case of Australia something dodgy like neighbours or home & away.

When Belarus entered the parade, we were reminded that some of the former Soviet Union’s greatest gymnasts hailed from that country including my first Olympic heroine, the brilliant Olga Korbut who mesmerised the world with her genius in the Munich games of 1972. Those Munich games were the first I can really remember watching, well having just turned 11 a few weeks before, it was the first time I really got hooked on a big sporting occasion. Yes I know it was 40 years ago & time waits for no girl but good memories last forever & seeing the genius that is forever Olga on last Sunday’s Olympic Dancing on Ice brought all those memories back.

Then came one of my favourite moments of any opening ceremony as the mighty samba stars of Brazil made the night a more colourful place by their presence. Predicted to do well in both men’s & women’s football & beach volleyball, there a joy to have at any sporting event. As hosts of the next games, I’m sure they will show the how to have a real carnival worthy of the name as they welcome Scotland to the party when Rio stages the games in 2016

The next nation to bring a smile to my face was Canada, who though probably more successful at the winter Olympics will be looking for. medals. This will be particularly true in the pool where along with Australia they will provide a serious medal threat to the aspirations of British swimmers & divers. We were told that Chile was one of the richest countries in South America, Croatia is a small but sports mad country & Chad was afflicted by that combination nobody wants debt & drought. However it was Colombia’s entrance which was the first to make me think of poetry, well I thought of my friend Kiran Singh’s poem There’s No Such Thing As Fair Trade Cocaine. No, I don’t know why, I just did. Believe me there are times when the imagination run riot, but I have to say whoever decided to let the Czech Republic wear wellies in their national colours was letting their imagination run a bit too far. Honestly I haven’t seen such a display of colour since Billy Connolly graced the stage in big banana boots when I was a girl in the 70’s

The team’s with the letters D & E passed by with no particular comments being made by any of the commentators except for Eithopia’s medal chances in the middle & long distance athletic events & Estonia’s date of Independence. I noticed Independence got a lot of mentions last night but in what has to be a quite devastating blow to the unionists there was no mention of separatism whatsoever. I think there are people I know of, but am far too nice to name who must have negatively foaming at the mouth. I say they’ll be doing it negatively as these are the kind of people who never do anything positive. I should perhaps say this statement does not apply to all unionists as believe it or not there are a number I actually like.

When France marched proudly to their place in the Olympic family it was great to see such a large contingent which reflected the cultural diversity of their nation. I say this, only because it shows the red card to the poisonous racism of the Le Pen family who certainly don’t embrace the Olympic idea of Multi-Cultural harmony

The next country to make an impact was Germany & there was controversy as to whether someone amongst their VIP’s gave their team a Nazi salute. As for the other teams in this part they took their place on the stage without much comment.

When it came to H the comments were mainly made in reference to Haiti & their recovery from the catastrophic earthquake. This at least to me, sounded just a wee bit patronising. You know in the kind of way that you’d congratulate someone you pity but don’t respect. Oh I don’t know maybe I’m being cynical, well its either that or its the hormones. When we came to I there big cheers for India, Israel & our celtic cousins from Ireland. However I have to admit in the middle of a global economic recession I did not take too kindly to Hazel Irvine informing the world that the Italians were kitted out in Georgio Armani. I mean come on I’m currently unemployed & I live in the East End of Glasgow. This is an area of such poverty it would compare unfavourably with parts of the developing world.

As Jamaica & Japan made their entries we were treated to the first sight at this Olympics of the sprinting phenomenon Usain Bolt who proudly carried the flag of an island which will celebrate its 50th year of Independence on Monday 6th August. Now win or lose at these Olympics they’ll still have something to celebrate in early August though I suspect the promise of their athletes returning with a few gold medals may just help the party spirit.

In any Olympic games that I can ever remember then K has to stand for Kenya. Along with their Eithopian rivals they’ll be competing for the honours in the middle & long distance athletic events & I’m sure they will provide us with many magical moments as they always seem to do.

The Olympic L words included countries such as Latvia & Liberia & when it came to M we were told that Mexico had a footballer named Hulk in their team & he was incredible. The really incredible fact is that the normally reliable Hazel Irvine got it wrong. Hulk actually plays for Brazil.
The Netherlands& Nigeria were amongst the most colourful entrants in the parade. Though I must admit at this time in the proceedings I reserve my biggest cheer for New Zealand. Well there are probably more participants from the Scottish diaspora representing this small country than there are Scots competing in the games.

After New Zealand it was the turn of oil rich Oman followed by Paraguay Peru Poland & Portugal before another nation of opulence & oil wealth Quatar took their place in the global village. The parade was moving at a rapid rate & had now reached R so Romania Russia & Rwanda were next to receive their welcomes. Whilst Romania & in particular Russia will be thinking of medals, one suspects that Rwanda’s athletes will simply be pleased to be attending the games. Indeed the commentary team informed us that the flag bearer lost 6 of his brothers in the genocide that tore his country apart in the mid 1990’s.

Next it was those countries beginning with S. The headlines in this group belonged to Saudi Arabia who made history by allowing women to compete in the Olympics for the first time. As for the rest of the nations in this group, Both Spain & Switzerland had large squads & will be confident of medal success. As world & european champions Spain will trying to add the Olympic football title & compete a historic treble. Switzerland, on the other hand will be hopeful of a golden day on the tennis court. Well they do have a certain Mr Fedderer representing their country in the Men’s Singles & the fact that the tennis will be played at Wimbledon where he has won so many times before will I think only heighten his determination to do a unique double at that very venue by adding an Olympic title to the Wimbledon crown he won for the 7th time just a few short weeks ago.

In contrast to these stories of expected success & potential glory we were told that Somalia is just beginning to recover from the negative image it has had in recent years. The reason for this recovery we were told, was the fact that there been a dramatic reduction in the robbery & piracy which was a common occurance in recent years. Honestly, there are sometimes you have to be polite, especially when your hosting a party.
With that controversy out of the way, the parade moved on & it wasn’t long before my one of favourite teams arrived to show the world their presence at the festival. It was as it always is when Scotland aren’t competing, & I was really cheered up by the entrance of the Swedes. I don’t know why but I’ve always liked them since the days of Bjorn Borg & Abba. Yes I know its got nothing to do with the Olympics but at least it proves that this Celtic fan had a soft spot for Sweden even before Henrik Larsson came to paradise. Maybe its because I like the colour combination they wear. Well the fashion conscious amongst us know that yellow works really well with blue, green, or black. The fact yellow is combined with one or more of these colours by Sweden, Brazil, Jamaica & The Scottish National Party proves if proof were needed that yellow is the colour of sunshine & success.

As we reached the final few nations it was time at last for our uncle to pay us a visit. Sam’s the name & he’s brought a lot of our cousins over to see us. However he told me this is no sightseeing tour & he expects them to have colours to accessorise their Ralph Lauren outfits. I’m told he favours gold though he does admit that silver & bronze look good.

After the Americans Uruguay were the next country to be given a significant mention by the commentators. I think this may be due to the fact that their football team have been drawn in the same group as the British men. However one interesting fact about Uruguay & it needs noting not by only by Stuart Pearce but by the coaches of Spain & Brazil is that Uruguay have twice won gold in Olympic football. Granted they won their titles in their first appearance in 1924 & their last in 1928 giving them a 100% success rate in the competition.

As the parade neared its end teams from Zambia & Zimbabwe were the last to enter the stadium before the arrival of the hosts who were greeted with rapturous applause from the cheering crowds. As they took their place with the other nations of these games I thought of the Scots amongst them & hoped they might perform to the highest level possible & leave London 2012 with more than just memories.

So since my country does not compete at these games but is part of another land’s team the question is who will I support at these games? Well every Scot can be guaranteed my support. There are also certain other competitors in the British team who I will be rooting for, & even as a battle hardened SNP member I will cheering like crazy for my golden girls Victoria Pendleton & the lovely Jess Ennis who every time I see her makes me cry. I would love Mo Farrah & Dai Green to do well & of course Rhys Williams. As for other countries I have a soft spot for let’s say the commonwealth giants Australia, Canada, & particularly New Zealand. Sweden Brazil & Jamaica for reasons explained earlier. Also I would like to include Ireland for ancestral reasons The Netherlands because I’ve been there & enjoyed a fantastic time. Indonesia for my friend Jess who had the good sense to marry in to a fine Scottish Family. Zimbabwe for my friends Tawona & Ernest & last but not least Italy for great food & good looking men. So you know what, I think I’m going to enjoy these Olympics far better than I thought I would.

Love & Best Wishes
Gayle X

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