The Olympics, for purists, has a full array of sporting action screening 24 hours a day.
For the curious it offers a chance to marvel at sports that rarely see the light of day, often involving countries you thought only existed in Sacha Baron Cohen mockumentaries.
Lastly, there are those of us who also enjoy the games for its unrivalled beauty.
To purists, ladies and those easily offended – this is probably time to stop reading. I’m not talking about the beauty displayed in the technically ornate execution of a skill honed through countless hours of hard work and rabid commitment to the pursuit of excellence.
No, I’m musing on the beauty of the human form, the visual symphony of the finely-tuned female physiques sculpted through athletic endeavour which grace the courts, fields, tracks and bodies of water in old London town.
Each and every Olympics the debate over which athlete, team, sport or country has the finest array of female competitors is fierce.
In 2000 it was the Italian volleyball team led by the now four-time Olympian Francesca Piccinini causing me to miss plenty of lectures. In 2004 the pool and the pitch captured the male gaze as French swimmer Laure Manaudou turned heads before the gold medal-winning US women’s soccer team and their frontline act, Sports Illustrated’s 2004 hottest female athlete of the year Heather Mitts, left jaws resting on the concrete. In 2008 it was the Australian swimmers who captivated performance wise while looking stunning – and the very promiscuous Stephanie Rice was never far from the camera.
So what of 2012? The blogs are running rife, there are countless ranking lists and web forums have seen some heated debate on the topic.
I have a few favourites. Finnish swimmer Hanna-Maria Seppala may not have got anywhere near the podium but tops many of the internet ranking lists for the hottest athlete of the games so can return home head held high. Czech pole-vaulter Jirina Ptacnikova caught my attention in qualifying and her beauty seems to be backed up with some deft ability on the pole.
It’s a veritable smorgasbord but if you’re looking to maximise your viewing enjoyment or happen to stumble across an accreditation pass to the athletes village these sports seem to be the way forward:
Heptathlon (Jessica Ennis) and pole-vault (Ptacnikova) are the pick of the track and field events due to the mix of speed, endurance and strength. Team sports, handball, soccer and volleyball seem to be rife with Scandinavian teams who always represent well, not to mention the US in the soccer and surprisingly the Turkish in the handball who have some real glamour.
Tennis ... well, what hasn’t already been said about women’s tennis.
Fencing is the dark horse – just Google Margherita Granbassi and you will be sure to agree.
The www.inappropriate.co.nz picks of the games are the US soccer team’s Alex Morgan for hottest female athlete, the Australian synchronised swimmers for hottest team and most of the handball players for hottest sport.
Mark Wilson is a Queenstown marketing consultant and unashamed supporter of the Buffalo Club’s raunchy bar-top ‘dance’ Olympics