It's been hard for me to grow up in a country where the national sport is rugby. Rugby is ridiculous, and our team, the All Blacks, are the most overpaid, over-marketed, and over-idolised "athletes" ever.
For one thing, they spend a large part of the time sucking. Losing games, losing entire tours, losing the World Cup. Not even making the final of the World Cup, actually. It's acceptable for All Blacks to be on the cover of the New Zealand Herald with beers in their hands. They're supposed to be fucking athletes. My most hated news "headlines"? When an All Black "hurts his ankle/shoulder/pinky finger" in TRAINING and might have to sit out the next training session. Yes, this has been HEADLINE news in New Zealand, when things like "bloodiest day in Israel's history" are relegated to later in the news. For crying out loud.
I was not at all shocked, then, this morning when I read "New Zealand's top ten sporting moments of the decade" and found "All Blacks 2005 season" in number six, surrounding by other stupid team sports like cricket, league, netball and... the... America's Cup?
The most notable omission from the "top ten" was Valerie Vili's dominance of the international shotput world. In 2006 she won the Commonwealth Games title, and since then she's gone on to become World Champion, Olympic Champion and again this year, repeat World Champion. Athletics is a truly global sport, unlike rugby which is only really celebrated in about five countries. Vili's monopoly on shotput is unparalleled by any other New Zealand sportsperson, and it's incredibly disappointing to see her left out of this countdown.
Especially when you consider Scott Dixon's Indy 500 victory is included. Of course, I love Scott, and I think it's exciting that he's become the most successful driver on the circuit, especially because it's held in the US, and traditonally dominated by people who get everything handed to them. But, driving cars is not a sport! It's just DRIVING CARS. I drive my car almost every day! I'm pretty good at it! But I haven't been included on this list.
I agree that Michael Campbell's US Open victory was pretty sweet. But was it really the sole greatest moment in sport this decade? I'm not so convinced.
Umm, another thing? Where is Sarah Ulmer's world record-breaking, beating-an-Australian, greatest moment of the 2004 Olympics cycling gold? She was our national darling, and she didn't even get a look in on this countdown! Pathetic. It's not "almost as bad as" our bronze medal-winning team pursuiters not getting mentioned on the "top ten cycling moments" countdown earlier this year, it's worse! Much, MUCH worse. Olympic GOLD, people! World record! Inspired a slew of female track cyclists who are now coming into their own (namely Alison Shanks, but we now also have a women's pursuit team. Unheard of!).
God, whoever wrote this countdown needs to get a clue. And the All Blacks need to fuck off and die.