24 May 2012

From Land's End to Stadium

I haven’t included a predominantly sports-oriented blog entry in Pragmatism Refreshed since February.  And that was simply my brief reaction to the loss of the Patriots in the Super Bowl.

So now I break the sports drought with a few words about the upcoming Summer Olympics.

Last week the Olympic flame arrived in the United Kingdom, for an 8,000 mile relay that begins at Land’s End.

Land’s End, by the way, is what it sounds like. It is the bit of southwest England where the Channel meets the Atlantic at a point.

I remember reading a book about the Spanish Armada with the clever chapter title, “From Finisterre to Land’s End.”

Why is that clever?  Well, because “finisterre” rather transparently means “land’s end,” and because the pertinent Finisterre in this case is the headline of Galicia in northwest Spain. So the chapter in question described the pre-battle portion of the Armada’s travels, before they arrived close enough for Drake to challenge them.

Anyway, the torch began its relay in Land’s End, in the hands of Ben Ainslie, and before it reaches the stadium in London that will host the Games, it will have passed through 8,000 pairs of hands over a period of ten weeks.

Why Ben Ainslie?  He has been a standout athlete for the UK in each of the last four summer games in sailing events, wnning silver in 1996 and gold in 2000. In those first two games he sailed in what is known as the Laser class. Then he moved up to the Finn class (larger craft) and won gold both in 2004 and 2008.   

For those who are curious, Laser looks like this.

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