She’s baaaaaaaack

Jana Pittman has been unusually restrained in the publicity stakes in Sochi Picture: John Ferguson
Jana Pittman has been unusually restrained in the publicity department
Picture by John Ferguson

 Ten years ago, the unfolding Athens Olympics drama of Jana Pittman’s Knee provided some fantastic sport for these pages (or the emailed missives that preceded them). There were daily knee updates, media pursuits on crutches, odd Greek-inspired fashion statements, Princess Leia side buns, whale music and meditation rituals. 

Plus a world-class repertoire of blub — the face-crumbling I’m-out-the-Games blub; the manic-grin-from-ear-to-ear I’m-back-in-the Games blub; the whimpering I’m-scared-and-knackered-and-hope-I-don’t-embarrass-myself blub; the dying swan it’s-all-over blub.  

Jana, or Wa-Wa Knee as we took to calling her, set new standards in Olympic headline hogging. It was a privilege to watch and we have never seen her like again. Tamsyn Lewis has tried and come up short. So has John Steffensen. Their failures highlight just how difficult it is to garner sustained media attention. For that, Jana has been in a class of her own.

So when we heard she was fronting up for the Winter Olympics, we thought: Ripper, and primed ourselves for a daily menu of media theatrics.

And what has she given us? Absolutely nothin’. Winter Jana is a very different beast to Summer Jana. She smiles, looks relaxed, quietly goes about her business and has got through these Games without a single controversy.

Until now. In the last 24 hours, it’s been revealed she’s put on too much weight. Not just the 11 kegs she stacked on to power the bobsleigh. More. How much more we’re not sure. But enough to keep their sled from hitting top speed.

Turns out Jana and her partner Astrid Radjenovic have been hitting the Olympic Village buffet hard. “We ate for Australia,” Jana confesses without even a hint of a blub, while Astrid confirms: “(We) didn’t realise we had gone that heavy.”

Hours before their final run, they were desperately trying to lose the extra weight. Visions of limb removal and prune juice colonics came to mind. Fortunately, it didn’t come to that and the sled went on the crash diet instead.

Jana and Astrid finished 14th, our best result in this event. They were also the highest placed southern hemisphere team. OK, the only southern hemisphere team.

But we haven’t seen the last of Jana. She’s got her sights set on Rio in 2016, as well as the 2018 Winter Games. I reckon she’s got another 20 Olympic campaigns left in her.

There will be plenty of these lying around Russia today Picture by Edinburgh Green
There will be plenty of these lying around Russia today
Picture by Edinburgh Green

Meanwhile, the hosts are hitting the vodka after Team Russia was bundled out of the ice hockey by Finland. If only Vladimir Putin had been playing instead of swanning around on the Olympic diplomatic circuit.

Finally, here’s a good reason not to become a Winter Olympian. We give you the Litany of Ouches,  with thanks to our readers for providing. I had never heard of an ‘orbital wall blowout’.

They said it 

“The entire country will be looking at you. In our time, we did everything for the victory. We glorified the USSR, our people and our sports. Don’t let Russia down, guys!” Former Russian gold medal ice hockey stars write an open letter to the current team heading into the competition. Pressure much?

“It’s called ice hockey, not nice hockey.” Some ice hockey player, I’m not sure who

“Now it’s up to the judges to make their decision.” A figure skating commentator states the bleeding obvious

“The overall picture is that we see ourselves still as a developing winter sports nation.” Sorry, Aussie chef de mission Ian Chesterman, what????

“My wife and I won medals. You can’t ask for more. It’s the craziest day of my life.” Russian husband and wife Vic Wild and Alena Zavarzina win separate individual snowboarding slalom medals. Bless.


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