Fri, September 20, 2013

Tilleyvision: Crying over tweeting towel

By STEVE TILLEY, QMI Agency


Pictures like this one shot from the bottom of the pool have become all the range at these Olympics.


In these so-called Twitter Olympics, it’s not just athletes who are interacting with fans in 140-character bursts. So are a whole bunch of inanimate objects.

Want to know what it’s like to look at swimmers from below instead of above, or to follow the intense action of a table tennis match? Then follow one of the official London 2012 camera Twitter accounts. (Seriously, these are official accounts.) @L2012PoolCam keeps a watery eye on swimming action, @L2012TableCam watches as balls ping and pong, and so on. There’s also @L2012BbalCam, @L2012GymCam and @L2012MatCam. What’s sad is most of these cameras have more Twitter followers than I do.

While Olympic organizers have done their best to fill unused VIP seats in the venues with soldiers, schoolchildren and teachers, poor @OlympicSeat still tweets about its lack of companionship, e.g. “Day 5: Still empty. Maybe tomorrow will be the day my Olympic destiny is finally fulfilled. Maybe...” Keep a stiff upper armrest, buddy.

Heck, even pieces of athletes’ equipment have their own Twitter accounts. Like U.S. gymnast Danell Leyva’s signature lucky towel, which you can follow at @LeyvasTowel as it tweets stuff like, “OMG! It’s a fluff piece all about meeeee!” Oh, and the towel has more than 10,000 followers.

OK, this is going a bit too far. How long before we see @UsainBoltsJockstrap tweeting?

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A decade or two ago when people watched the Olympics on TV, they had to be satisfied with static, boring camera angles. How did they cope? It seems almost barbaric.

Luckily, here in the enlightened 2010s, some sports literally have more cameras in the venue than athletes on the field of competition. Here are my favourites.

— Road cycling follow-cam – With camera crews in vehicles tailing cyclists by only a few metres, the shots are outstanding. I don’t think any other sport lets you feel the point of view of the competitor quite like this, and the images of London’s picturesque streets whizzing by adds to the experience

— Overhead rowing cam – The Eton Dorney Olympic rowing venue has an overhead cable-mounted camera running the entire two-kilometre length of the course, and somehow the view of the rowers from above does a better job of communicating just how hard these men and women work with each stroke.

— Plunging dive cam – Unless you’re very familiar with the sport, it’s hard to get a sense of a diver’s technique with a static profile or overhead view. The cameras that follow the divers downward at the same rate of the dive itself really give spectators a sense of what an inward three-and-a-half somersault looks like.

— Slo-mo bar cam – Missing a catch in an uneven bars or high bar competition can end an athlete’s medal prospects, which is why having a super slo-mo camera trained on the top bar is so dramatic. We get to watch as the grimacing gymnast either nails the catch or their fingertips slip at that crucial millisecond.

— Pool bottom cam – Some of the most dramatic shots from the swimming events come from the underwater cameras in the pool itself (and as I mentioned above, the pool camera even has its own Twitter account.) It gives a much better idea of just how much power is in each stroke and kick. And it just looks cool.

— Beach volleyball butt cam – The cameras at the end of the beach volleyball court are mounted on booms to give them an elevated view of the action. But this also allows the camera to dip really low, putting us eye-level with the athletes’ taut, spandex-clad bums. Surely it’s just because the angle is dramatic, and not sexual. Surely.

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Embarrassing mom quote of the day: “He goes out on one-night stands. He’s not able to give fully to a relationship because he’s always on the go.” – U.S. swimming superstar Ryan Lochte’s mom, Ike, explaining to Today.com that her boy isn’t just a player in the pool.