Thursday, 10 September 2015

Fun and (School) Games

Hi everyone. Since I last posted, I've had a rich and varied week or so: volunteering at the School Games in Manchester and Bolton, attending a full-on Communist funeral (the Internationale, Bandiera Rossa, Party banners, the lot) and participating in a twilight slow bike ride around Stoke festooned with fairy lights and soundtracked by ambient music. As I said, an eclectic set of experiences.

I only have pictorial evidence of the School Games, so those of you allergic to young people and/or sport might wish to view something else. It was an interesting Games. Sainsbury's has pulled out of its sponsorship of UK Athletics activity ahead of schedule, which is pretty churlish: this includes the Games, so while the branding continued to infest the event, budgets were clearly very, very tight.

I wasn't particularly impressed with the Opening Ceremony either, though four of my fencers were picked to take the oath on behalf of the athletes. The D-list presenters engaged in the most painful and rehearsed banter, interspersed by off-the-cuff sexist comments, while the entertainment was almost entirely female dancers dressed in skimpy sequinned costumes (or 'showgirls' as the compere called them). Very good at their job, but in front of several hundred sporty teenagers, perhaps the organisers should have considered whether it's appropriate to present women solely as decorative objects. Maybe including some male dancers would have helped. Anyway, there were some sports stars present: Ellie Simmonds was very good, while a male athlete helpfully and repeatedly explained that success is achieved by 'staying positive' and 'giving it 110%', which I personally found inspirational. He also confessed that the high point of the School Games in his day was when he put a frog in a microwave. Vile, yes, but I enjoyed the almost audible quality of the spanner dropping into the banter works.

The rest of the games passed in a haze of exhaustion punctuated by admiration and jealousy of the young fencers, any one of whom could thrash me without breaking into a sweat. It was also lovely seeing fencers I knew as tiny scared creatures reappearing as hulking great winners, and to catch up with all my friends from the fencing world.

Here are some of my favourite shots (click to enlarge) and you can see the rest here. Fencing photos are tough: the lighting's terrible, you can't use flash, my equipment is ageing, and everyone looks the same once the mask is on. So I tried to capture personality as best I could: victory, defeat, battered fencing shoes, team hugs and so on.

The Toast Rack - near my room on Manchester University's Fallowfield Campus. Formerly part of Manchester Metropolitan University


Scotland's women sabreurs console each other after defeat

Searchlights on the roof of the Opening Ceremony venue

Soundcheck for the opening ceremony

Jess Corby reads the oath with George Morris behind her

Volunteers at the opening ceremony

The aforesaid 'showgirls'. 

Generations of Adidas fencing shoes

A fistful of foils

About to be interviewed on camera

Corby under the Klieg lights

Kamal Minot taking media duties in his stride

Ken Rose (Scotland coach) discussing the fight with referee Sean Grundy

Celyn Lewis takes off

…as does Kamal Minott

The referee awards the hit and the Welsh women's epeeists celebrate

Simultaneous hit by the two Scottish women foilists Morrison and Black

Multiple exposure…very tricky without a tripod. 

Battered old Adidas fencing shoe

Charlotte Slater lands a foot hit on Scotland's Paisley.

Jovial ref explains a decision to Gibbon

The referees about to launch into a ballad

The Leon Paul technical staff applaud the medallists

Sabre Selfie!

Schneider and Slater at a tense moment

Moody shot of a Scottish sabreur warming up backstage

Philip Slater celebrates with his coach

Slater, defeated in the team event.

Taylor takes off.

The selfie

Welsh women's epee team celebrates

Edwards and the Welsh coaches celebrate

Yellow card for Dolan

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