The Olympics downunder, a Kiwi ex-pat perspective

I asked a fellow Kiwi writer and best-seller author, Grant Leisham, to leave his perspective of this Rio 2016 Olympics, as a Kiwi ex-pat living abroad.

olympics new zealand, kiwi rowers 1972, Kiwi ex-pat

You know I have a soft sport for the New Zealand. I simply love this country. If you know that, you may also know that I have a lot of kiwi friends.

I asked one of them, best-seller author Grant Leisham, to tell me about how he lives the Olympic as a Kiwi ex-pat living in Thailand, a country that’s not really into the Olympics. Something that’s unusual for a Kiwi. Grant is an excellent writer, so you’re going to enjoy his story. Here it is!

Well, the Rio 2016, Summer Olympics are happening and I’m truly into the spirit of it all.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been an absolutely committed Olympiophile (Don’t you just love it when I invent new words). I’ve loved the Olympics for years, ever since I fondly remember watching coverage of our New Zealand Rowing Eight winning Gold at Munich in 1972.

Prior to that and television coverage, we pretty had to make do with live radio broadcasts, which were exciting enough in their own right, but couldn’t convey the action in quite the same way as the new medium (for us anyway), television could.

Remembering the Olympics in New Zealand

I well recall watching those proud, young men in Black, the epitome of Kiwi manhood and staunchness, standing atop the podium, the New Zealand flag fluttering on the pole and the tears pouring down their cheeks. It was at that point I think I fully grasped the enormity of what the New Zealand Rowing Eight had achieved that day.

You see, Kiwi men in the 1970’s simply didn’t cry and certainly not on worldwide television. For that to have happened, my thirteen-year-old mind suddenly realised I must have been watching something very special unfold, that day.

I’ve religiously followed every Olympics since, winter games included and seen my fair share of joys, triumphs, disappointments and failures, but I doubt I’ve ever felt the immense surge of pride those victorious rowers gave an impressionable, young adolescent in 1972.

Watching the Olympics as a Kiwi ex-pat in Thailand

So onto Rio 2016 and funnily enough, as a Kiwi, albeit an expatriate Kiwi these days, it is the rowers again who will dominate the hopes and dreams of Olympic glory among fanatical, New Zealand Olympic fans.

The resurgence in New Zealand rowing has been phenomenal over the past ten years. We are back to and passing the glory days of rowing in New Zealand, the 70’s & the 80’s. New Zealander’s will look hopefully toward the waters of Rio for more Olympic glory this time around – and with good reason.

Domiciled now, in a country that has no real Olympic tradition, who’s Olympic team is probably no bigger than ten athletes and who’s free-to-air television coverage of the Olympics, is limited, to say the least, I will struggle to follow these games, as I did to follow the London Games in 2012 and Sochi in 2014.

Still, thank God for the internet! For us true Olympiophile’s there is always a way to get your fix and I will be getting mine every day for the next two weeks. Roll on the rowing finals and roll on Kiwi Gold! 

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