Saturday, 4 August 2012

London 2012: Week One

A week into the London Olympics and I think it’s all going rather well. Lots of medals for team GB, none of the predicted travel chaos, and best of all, half the world now think James Bond is a real person who spends his time between films accompanying the Queen on parachuting jollies.

And now the athletics has got under way, it feels like we’re in full swing.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed the rowers’ shoulders, the gymnasts’ legs and the beach volleyballers’ butts as much as the next female muscle lover, but when Jessica Ennis and her fellow heptathletes were stripping off before their first event yesterday, my enjoyment went to a whole new level.

But week one has not just been about me bemoaning modern swimming attire (too much coverage!), or wondering what those judo ladies would look like if they weren’t wearing several duvets.

Female Muscle Slave’s team of the week has been the Dutch women’s hockey team. Not very patriotic, I know, but there’s something about those lithe, athletic bodies in the oranje uniforms…

I have been travelling a lot this week for work, so I haven’t been able to watch as much of the Olympics as I normally would, but thanks to the BBC’s superlative coverage, I haven’t had to miss a single one of their games.

I’m almost ashamed to say that while waiting for connections, there’s been a lot of day-dreaming about canal boat holidays, cycling expeditions and coffee shop lock-ins with the team for company.

They’re favourites for the gold medal and play the game with a thrilling attacking style. Their short corner routines are imaginative, and their stick work is probably the best in the competition. Seriously! It’s not just about their looks! Really!

Well I don't care if you believe me, but I shall be munching my eggs and bacon today and cheering on the Oranjettes as they go up against the South Koreans, looking for their fourth win in four matches. Hup hup Holland!

My athlete of the week got nowhere near a medal. But she did break her own British record, and then very publicly made a stand against those who like to abuse athletic, muscular women, and those who have abused her personally through social media. In the process she showed herself to be among the coolest, most well-adjusted young women in the world according to one journalist who picked up on the story. And she’s only eighteen.

Zoe Smith, who represented Britain in the women’s 58kg event, was the victim of much Twitter abuse following a BBC documentary earlier in the year that followed her and other British female weightlifters during their preparation for the London games. It was the usual name-calling stuff that we female muscle fans are depressingly familiar with, and what a joy it was when, after her event, Zoe decided that the media attention she was receiving provided the perfect platform to launch a counter-attack. And what a counter-attack!

Just for starters she pointed out her critics were ignorant twerps who had never done a day of exercise in their life. Furthermore, they are chauvinistic and pig-headed, and feel the need to voice their unwanted opinions because they feel emasculated by the fact that we three small, fairly feminine girls [Zoe and her female weightlifting colleagues] are stronger than them. Nice!

But Zoe’s not finished, not by a long shot: We don’t lift weights in order to look hot, especially for the likes of men like that. What makes them think that we even WANT them to find us attractive? If you do, thanks very much, we’re flattered. But if you don’t, why do you really need to voice this opinion in the first place, and what makes you think we actually give a toss that you, personally, do not find us attractive? What do you want us to do? Shall we stop weightlifting, amend our diet in order to completely get rid of our ‘manly’ muscles, and become housewives in the sheer hope that one day you will look more favourably upon us and we might actually have a shot with you?!

And now for the big finish…

We, as any women with an ounce of self-confidence would, prefer our men to be confident enough in themselves to not feel emasculated by the fact that we aren’t weak and feeble. And here’s some food for thought – maybe you should broaden your criteria for what you consider ‘attractive’ anyway, because these perfect, feminine women you speak of probably have no interest in you either.

You can’t see me now but I am jumping up and down with one fist in the air shouting ‘Zo-e! Zo-e! Zo-e!’

She even dedicated her performance in London to her detractors. Well, perhaps ‘dedicated’ is not quite the correct word. Her new British record was, she said, two fingers up to them. What are you doing with your life? I’ve just competed at the Olympics! Have some of that, trolls!

A woman definitely not to be messed with, but also definitely a woman to follow on Twitter. A woman who deserves our applause not only for her achievements, but also for her contribution to the cause.

Not all winners gets golds. This will not be last we hear of Zoe, I'm sure.