Poor Jana Pittman.

The 400m hurdles champion has endured a lot recently -“ gruelling preparation, constant media attention and now, just days before the Olympics commence, her right knee goes bung.

I’ve been worried about Jana ever since she appeared on the cover of The Daily Telegraph a few weeks ago. Grimacing at the camera, contorted into a bodybuilder crab pose, Jana looked so highly strung that I suspect if you touched her in the wrong spot, she’d explode.

Fortunately, she flew to London for surgery and there’s been mention of a hyperbaric chamber, so Australia can relax. Our Jana’s a trooper. Okay, she might not win, but she’s having a go -“ it’s the Aussie way.
Besides, even if she has a meltdown in the final stretch, we’ll at least get a very special edition of Today Tonight. For all we know, Naomi Robson could be sticking pins into the leg of a little Jana doll right now.

I realise many readers of this paper wouldn’t have a clue who I’m talking about and don’t really care. Gay men have never been renowned for their sporting knowledge. Nevertheless, for the next couple of weeks, you will be immersed in the world of badminton statistics, blind jingoism and Bruce McAvaney.

Unappealing, perhaps, but there are other ways to enjoy the Olympics, even if your sporting interest is limited to Shane Webcke’s thighs. Personally, I’m on the edge of my couch wondering if Ian Thorpe will keep his stubble.

While every other male swimmer shaves everything off (a high price to pay for 0.05 seconds, don’t you reckon?) I imagine Ian will stick with the facial hair. Frankly, with that new hairdo, he’d look like a Princess Diana impersonator without it. Anyway, Ian has always dismissed convention -“ this is the man who introduced the nation to pearl fascinators, after all -“ and he strikes me as someone who would happily sacrifice a gold medal for the sake of good grooming.

Of course, Jana and Ian are hardly the only Olympic stories bound to rivet the public. Will our opening ceremony uniforms look like Club Med cast-offs? Who will collapse from heat exhaustion? And will commentator Cathy Freeman be able to string two sentences together?

Bottom line: there’s no escape. So sit back, relax and wish Jana the best. Just don’t touch her.

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