Silver-tongued commentators get gold for putting their foot in it

Major sporting moments tend to result in historic commentary that echoes through the ages. Even when we don’t really want it to.

While Italia ’90 gave us Eamon Dunphy’s shame and George Hamilton’s breath-holding, this week’s Katie Taylor-inspired Olympics heroics have led to a different type of classic quote collection.

Jimmy Magee, Bill O’Herlihy, Gaby Logan, Michael Johnson and Colin Jackson have all tip-toed along the line between comedy and controversy.

And while the record-smashing glory in different sports may be what the stats will note, their own brand of commentary is what most people will remember about London 2012:

* “A huge Irish contingent here in the ExCeL, where do they all come from?”

No answering that question from Mr Magee.

* “Look at what’s his name! Here he comes, here he comes!! Here he comes!!! The BIG MAN!!! THE BIG MAN!!! AAAAGGHH!!

Slightly overexcited former 110m hurdles star Colin Jackson loses the run of himself off-screen during last Sunday’s 100m final, which the BBC was only too happy to later show. We think he meant Usain Bolt.

* “Well, it’s a bit more difficult than sitting on a horse.”

200m and 400m world and Olympic record holder Michael Johnson, after a BBC co-analyst put 37-year-old German gymnast and mother Oksana Chusovitina’s exploits in the same age-defying league as those of 71-year-old dressage horse rider Hiroshi Hoketsu.

* “They’re little men and I don’t think they’d mind me saying that. If this doesn’t work out for them they could be jockeys.”

Jimmy Magee explains the weight categories of men’s amateur boxing.

* “She’s listening to her father, as she has done since she was a little baby. But this time it’s for something more than ‘eat up your dinner’.”

While Katie was hungry for gold medal success,Jimmy already had one eye on the post-fight meal.

* “Have you ever lifted anything that big? And I’m not talking about the weights.”

The BBC again, as presenter Gaby Logan — to stunned silence — gives an alternative view of the size of a champion female weightlifter.

* When Bill O’Herlihy was growing up, badminton was “a mainly Protestant sport”.

RTÉ’s anchor inadvertently sets cross-community relations back a generation during coverage of Irish player Chloe Magee’s quest for success. He later apologised.

* “He’s beautiful, beautiful, what a beautiful boy!”

Who needs Bolt, Taylor, Rudisha, Nevin, Phelps, Farah, Ennis et al when you have Bert, the proud, blubbering, heavily accented father of South African swimmer Chad le Clos? Bert’s post-race 200mbutterfly final interview was as golden a moment as his son’s gripping success.

Read more:

Referee: Gender shouldn’t be issue

Expats celebrate despite the time differences

All-Ireland invite for Jonas

More than 1m people tune in to watch fight

‘She seems everyone’s sister, daughter, friend’

Champion urged to leave ring — for soccer pitch

Publicists urge Taylor to quickly cash in on win

Katie faces tough slog if she wants to go pro

Olympians decline formal civic reception in Dublin


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