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    In defence of the most misunderstood Olympic sport: dressage

Following on from the idea that you have to be rich is the idea that you need no talent, that the horse does all the work and that consequently, riders don’t need athleticism. This is nonsense. Watch a horse and rider perform dressage from a distance, and the rider looks as if they are hardly moving. Then watch the close-ups of passage, that strange slow motion trot that was originally used in military parades. There is a tremendous amount of movement in passage (take it from me as a rider, the thought of dressage without a sports bra is too painful for words) and so for the rider to create the illusion of sitting still, they must move in synchronicity with the horse. The difference between each movement lies mainly in the use of your hips, legs and core muscles. Even at my low riding level, I have a nicely defined set of abs and the cardiovascular fitness of someone 15 years my junior.

 Photograph: Markus Schreiber/AP

    In defence of the most misunderstood Olympic sport: dressage

    Following on from the idea that you have to be rich is the idea that you need no talent, that the horse does all the work and that consequently, riders don’t need athleticism. This is nonsense. Watch a horse and rider perform dressage from a distance, and the rider looks as if they are hardly moving. Then watch the close-ups of passage, that strange slow motion trot that was originally used in military parades. There is a tremendous amount of movement in passage (take it from me as a rider, the thought of dressage without a sports bra is too painful for words) and so for the rider to create the illusion of sitting still, they must move in synchronicity with the horse. The difference between each movement lies mainly in the use of your hips, legs and core muscles. Even at my low riding level, I have a nicely defined set of abs and the cardiovascular fitness of someone 15 years my junior.

    Photograph: Markus Schreiber/AP

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    The Olympics is making professional footballers look like the nasty, egotistical bankers of sport, for here instead are glowing people full of dreams and spirit. Yes, it is a collective dream, and one from which we will come to – but it is significant none the less. Suzanne Moore on the London Olympics
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    The happiest-Olympic-worker-gone-viral (above) wrote a lovely piece for us:

    It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me to work at the Games. I’m a natural people pleaser, and enjoy making people laugh. When I saw that chair it was like it had a shining light around it, and I thought: this is the perfect opportunity. This is my chair. It was the first time I had a platform to speak to people, and once I was sat up there with the megaphone I just said what came to mind.

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    We don’t lift weights in order to look hot, especially for the likes of men like that. What makes them think that we even WANT them to find us attractive? If you do, thanks very much, we’re flattered. But if you don’t, why do you really need to voice this opinion in the first place, and what makes you think we actually give a toss that you, personally, do not find us attractive? What do you want us to do? Shall we stop weightlifting, amend our diet in order to completely get rid of our ‘manly’ muscles, and become housewives in the sheer hope that one day you will look more favourably upon us and we might actually have a shot with you?! Cause you are clearly the kindest, most attractive type of man to grace the earth with your presence.

    Oh but wait, you aren’t. This may be shocking to you, but we actually would rather be attractive to people who aren’t closed-minded and ignorant. Crazy, eh?! We, as any women with an ounce of self-confidence would, prefer our men to be confident enough in themselves to not feel emasculated by the fact that we aren’t weak and feeble.

    How could we have missed that? Olympic weightlifter Zoe Smith responds to sexist tweets on her blog
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    If there is anyone who embodies the spirit of the Olympic Games on its opening day today, it is Guor Marial, the South Sudanese refugee marathon runner who won his right to compete in London at the 11th hour. Marial lives in the US, but is a man without a passport or a country. He was born in what is now South Sudan, at a time when it was ruled by Sudan. He learned to run fleeing for his life from a Sudanese labour camp in a conflict that claimed the lives of 28 of his relatives. He survived by hiding in a cave, his jaw broken by soldiers. So when the International Olympic Committee offered him the chance to run for Sudan, he declined. Last week, Marial was one of four competitors the IOC cleared to run under the Olympic flag as an independent, but he is in no doubt that he is running for his fledgling country. By Ros Wynne-Jones
    Read about other amazing athletes who have defied the odds here.
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    Too good for us not to make a gif: This morning, Jeremy Hunt, secretary of state for culture, Olympics, media and sport, could have killed an innocent onlooker with his bell end as he rang it with too much gusto to celebrate the Games starting in London.

    Too good for us not to make a gif: This morning, Jeremy Hunt, secretary of state for culture, Olympics, media and sport, could have killed an innocent onlooker with his bell end as he rang it with too much gusto to celebrate the Games starting in London.

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    London 2012: what do you think of the Olympic kits?

    The Spanish are really upset about their kits - and with that … thing they have to wear, we can understand them. Are you happy about your nation’s sartorial choice? Do you think it represent your country well?

    [Above: Kits for Russia, USA, UK, Brazil, France]

    Photographs: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images for adidas; Ralph Lauren/AP; Misha Japaridze/AP; Cameron Spencer/Getty Images; Sergio Moraes/Reuters; Charles Platiau/Reuters

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    On paper it’s virtually illegal to be anything other than thrilled to self-pissing point at the prospect of hours of running, jumping, swimming etc filling our minds and airwaves for several weeks, but in reality, the majority of Britons appear to be acknowledging the forthcoming games with little more than an offhand shrug. We’re just not that arsed – not right now, anyway. Charlie Brooker, in ‘Not excited by the Olympics? Then thank God for the sponsors.’ Read more here.
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In Reema Abdullah we already have a Saudi woman who is unhesitating and proud to be an athletic role model for Saudi women. Abdullah, unlike the ministry, is very open about her participation in the London Olympics. It’s no surprise she’s taking the lead in her capacity as Saudi Arabia’s first female sports radio host, and as captain and one of the founding members of Jeddah United, the first public Saudi women’s football team.

Following the news that Saudi Arabia could send female athletes to this year’s Games, Eman Al Nafjan praises Reema Abdullah, who is set to be the first Saudi woman to carry the Olympic torch, and has been campaigning for women to have the chance to take part in the games and sport internationally.
Photograph: AP

    In Reema Abdullah we already have a Saudi woman who is unhesitating and proud to be an athletic role model for Saudi women. Abdullah, unlike the ministry, is very open about her participation in the London Olympics. It’s no surprise she’s taking the lead in her capacity as Saudi Arabia’s first female sports radio host, and as captain and one of the founding members of Jeddah United, the first public Saudi women’s football team.

    Following the news that Saudi Arabia could send female athletes to this year’s Games, Eman Al Nafjan praises Reema Abdullah, who is set to be the first Saudi woman to carry the Olympic torch, and has been campaigning for women to have the chance to take part in the games and sport internationally.

    Photograph: AP

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