Golf’s not the big­gest Olympic prob­lem

Kapi-Mana News - - CLASSIFIEDS - JOSEPH RO­MANOS Sports talk

‘‘There are sports that should be elim­i­nated from the Olympics be­fore ten­nis and golf. ’’

Golf is in the gun be­cause lead­ing male play­ers are start­ing to with­draw from the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in Au­gust. Aus­tralians Adam Scott and Marc Leish­man, Fi­jian Vi­jay Singh and South Africans Charl Schwartzel and Louis Ooster­huizen have an­nounced they won’t be go­ing to Rio. A cou­ple have cited con­cerns about the zika virus, but the sus­pi­cion is the Olympics doesn’t re­ally grab them.

Top golfers point their sea­sons around the Ma­jors, the lit­mus test of great­ness in their sport.

So far no top fe­male golfers have with­drawn, though they would have more rea­son to – cur­rent med­i­cal un­der­stand­ing is that the virus, de­rived pri­mar­ily from mos­quito bites, has more se­ri­ous con­se­quences for women.

Golf’s ex­pe­ri­ence mir­rors what ten­nis went through af­ter it was rein­tro­duced to the Olympics in 1988.

Nearly all the lead­ing women played and sin­gles gold medal­lists have in­cluded Jen­nifer Capriati, Lind­say Daven­port, Venus and Ser­ena Wil­liams and Jus­tine Henin. Other medals have gone to St­effi Graf, Maria Shara­pova, Mon­ica Se­les and Amelie Mau­resmo.

That’s a who’s who of women’s ten­nis over the past cou­ple of decades.

On the men’s side, the likes of Ivan Lendl, Jim Courier, Boris Becker, Pete Sam­pras and Ste­fan Ed­berg ei­ther never played at the Olympics, or turned in sub­stan­dard sin­gles per­for­mances. As late as 2004, the sin­gles medal­lists were Ni­co­las Massu, Mardy Fish and Fer­nando Gon­za­lez, none ex­actly hall of fame con­tenders.

Roger Fed­erer has al­ways sup­ported the Olympics and more re­cently Rafael Nadal, No­vak Djokovic and Andy Murray have clearly en­joyed their Olympic ex­pe­ri­ences.

Ten­nis is now on board the Olympic train.

There are sports that should be elim­i­nated from the Olympics be­fore ten­nis and golf.

Men’s foot­ball, largely re­stricted to un­der-23 level, has no place at the Olympics. It’s there be­cause of foot­ball’s clout and draw­ing power.

Box­ing and wrestling, which at the Olympics are re­stricted to am­a­teur com­peti­tors, should also be re­moved.

The mod­ern Olympics is sup­posed to be about the best, with­out age or am­a­teur re­stric­tions.

Just be­cause sports have been in the Olympics doesn’t mean they should still be there. Oth­er­wise cricket, lacrosse, cro­quet, polo, tug of war and mo­tor boat­ing would be on the sched­ule for Rio.

I’d dis­pense with tram­polin­ing, rhyth­mic gym­nas­tics, syn­chro­nised swim­ming (rel­a­tively re­cent ad­di­tions with­out wide­spread ap­peal). The bizarrely named mod­ern pen­tathlon, on the Olympic cal­en­dar since 1912, should go and weightlift­ing, so fraught with drugs prob­lems, should be looked at closely.

I like some of the re­cent ad­di­tions, in­clud­ing beach vol­ley­ball and moun­tain bik­ing (1996), triathlon (2000), BMX(2008) and sev­ens rugby (2016). They prob­a­bly bet­ter re­flect the youth of to­day than the likes mod­ern pen­tathlon and freestyle wrestling.

And golf? Iron­i­cally in 2009, when it was added to the Olympic pro­gramme, Tiger Woods was the com­pelling draw­card.

He won’t be in Rio, hav­ing tum­bled out of the top 500 in the world rank­ings, and a woman we know well, Ly­dia Ko, will in­stead be one of golf’s ma­jor draw­cards.

I don’t mind golf be­ing at the Olympics. The four-day event, con­fined to one course, fits the sched­ule well.

It may take a while for some golfers to come round to it, but I’m sure the top play­ers will learn to cher­ish their Olympic op­por­tu­ni­ties.

PHOTO: USA TO­DAY SPORTS

Ly­dia Ko, who will be one of the big golf draw­cards at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

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