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Here is my black outfit my wife has made for the upcoming Commonwealth Games.

The training is complete, the preparation is over and it is finally time to begin the 2010 Commonwealth Games. As you probably realise this is the pinnacle of my sporting career and I just can’t wait to get started. This will be my second real Commonwealth Games and I am hoping for an improved performance from my last effort when the games were held in Australia.

While technically these will be my 8th Commonwealth Games, it has only been in the last two years I have taken my involvement seriously. Many people just view the Commonwealth Games as a time to marvel at the athlete’s ability to perform super human feats under immense pressure. To them the Commonwealth Games is a time to sit on the couch, eat food and just watch. Not me.
The Com Games for me, is the chance to pit myself against the world’s best just to see if our New Zealand selectors were wrong in leaving me at home.

As I have already stated, I was extremely disappointed at my performance during the 2006 games. My preparation was poor and small issues such as living with the in-laws definitely had an adverse affect. Essentially it was an away game which meant I was unsure about basic issues which I had taken for granted. Issues such as the distance from the couch to the fridge and back via the toilet, the range of the remote and I had issues with the new volume control. All these factors played a part in my poor performance. Even having a TV in my bedroom didn’t seem to ease the problems as the time difference didn’t go down that well with my wife Rachel, elbowing her during the Rugby teams victory in the7’s competition.

For me there is a twofold aspect to this year’s Commonwealth Games. Firstly, there is the watching and viewing side of things. This involves sports that are a little difficult to replicate in my living room. Gymnastics is one. While I certainly don’t doubt my flexibility and my high bar routine is second to none, the fact that this sport requires judges precludes me from taking part. This has only been a last minute decision as during the 2006 games my floor exercise was up there with some of the best from the Indian orphans. Even Ray (my father in-law) was speechless as I rolled around effortlessly in his lounge in my lycra one piece to Lenard Cohen. I can still visualize the tears I saw welling up in his eyes.
Other sports such as horse riding and boxing fall into this category as they are just too difficult to run successfully in our 5m by 4m lounge. These are the sports I just sit back, watch and enjoy, knowing that the cards life has dealt me, mean that I am unable to prove myself in these disciplines.

However, there are a number of sports that you can actually join in during the Commonwealth Games and with the latest results online you can actually rank yourself.
For me the first week is going to be slightly easier than the second. Traditionally, I haven’t been strong in the Aquatic section but this year I have a slightly smaller bath, which I am hoping will help me make the top ten in most events. While I have had some doubters over the years I make sure that I keep to all international swimming rules except one. Firstly, I start in the water as diving into out 55cm deep bath could prove disastrous and secondly, I swim in the nick, none of the latest Addidas full length babies for me.
Just to give you an idea, about how things work, our bath is 1.8m long. Therefore, for a 100m swimming race I have to touch the each end a total of 56 times. The current world record for the 100m freestyle 47.50 and I am sure that by sitting in the middle of my bath I can touch each end 28 times in under 45 seconds. One of the drawbacks with the small bath is that we can’t get the entire Banbury Family in there at once so we have had to reluctantly, excuse the pun, ‘pull the plug’ on our involvement in the relays.
Also during the first week I have cycling which will involve the use of Asa’s small bike and my wind trainer. I have even bought a small water pistol with a range of 20m for the shooting events. Apart from those events the first week is about watching and becoming absorbed in the Commonwealth Games Spirit.

The second week will be physically draining and that will be when my training comes to fruition. Without boasting I am hoping to come away with about 7 medals. Our treadmill has already been positioned in the lounge and I have preset in the memory all of the distances from 100m all the way to the 50km walk. I have managed to rig up a very impressive high jump contraption and one of the rocks I dislodge while working on our garden will be used when I go head to head with Valerie Adams. While most athletes at the Commonwealth Games focus on one or two events I prefer to go with the blanket approach and enter them all.
While disappointed that my request for a black singlet and shorts was dismissed by the NZ Com Games Committee I have taken my own black ‘wifebeater’ and added a small silver fern with some double sided sticky tape. I have gone with the number 59-235-678 which is my IRD number.

Just quietly I am really focussing on the 800m and 1500m events. Traditionally these have been New Zealand’s events and hopefully I will be able to restore some pride. My main secret weapon for both these races is my finishing kick. During my training I found the 12km/ph speed limit on my treadmill concerning and a quick look at the fastest times highlight that about 15 runners have already run faster than me this season. Therefore, I have taken the drastic step of hooking up the lawnmower to the treadmill and I believe the extra 4.5hp will ensure victory for the black singlet. As a by product the petrol fumes and black smoke that bellows from the engine creates an authentic Delhi climate in our own lounge.

I also challenge you to take part in the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Like me you are probably frustrated at New Zealand’s tough selection criteria and this could be your chance to put forward your case for the next Olympics.
If not and you prefer to sit and cheer on our New Zealand athletes, just remember that while there may be no New Zealand athletes in the 100m final, there is one die hard New Zealand runner recreating our famous history in his lounge while choking on his lawnmower fumes.


Ozy's redesigned New Zealand flag

With all the media hype about a new flag for New Zealand I thought I would get involved in designing something that is a little more representative of who we are as people. Incidently, life would be more rewarding if the media were so excited about true journalism, the injustices of the world and my blog as they are about a silly new flag.

Anyway as I have said I wanted something that would represent us as New Zealanders. We have a British history so I have therfore kept the Union Jack in the corner. This also reminds us how far we have come as a nation.  However, our summer has been so poor I have yet to see the southern cross so I have got photoshop that out of the new design. In its place are pictures of the four pillars of New Zealand society – Beer, Sport, Beach and Sheep. To ensure that the Treay of Waitangi is acknowledge in my flag, my picture of a beach doubles as a seabed and foreshore.

While these four pictures represent our pillars, what draws all New Zealanders together is our dislike of Australia and Australian. Therefore, I have put a statement from one of our previous Prime Ministers that will certainly draw all New Zealanders together.  As a sportsman I could think of nothing more inspiring than reading those words before an important sporting contest.

Hedge trimming New Zealand style

Here we have the first attempt at mowing the hedge with the ride on mower.

A New Zealand hedge trimming company has struck a gold mine by diversifying their product into what they call ‘extreme clipping’. Usually just resorting to trimming hedges with a hedge trimmer the company was forced into desperate measures earlier this year when their only trimmer broke down. Their solution was to use a lawn mower on a crane to complete the hedge trimming. This become national news in New Zealand and quickly the company started offering a number of different services under the catch phrase ‘ extreme clippings’. While other companies have struggle through the economic downturn this company has tripled their turnover and reduced their lawnmower petrol bill by half.

The owners believe it is the adventurous nature of the new projects that get people excited. “People seems to live such mundane lives that this can give many people the thrill they require” John Smith the owner quoted (name changed due to impending law suit for failed job). After their first job they were then asked to trim a large oak tree with a helicopter and then a small garden hedge with motorbike.

Opposition to this new fad is obviously high. The Salvation Army have reported an increase in calls from people who have become addicted to ‘extreme clipping’ and many have invested their life savings into some crazy stunt. In one case a Chinese man attempted to shave his beard using blades attached to a ceiling fan, fortunately police arrived on the scene before he managed to flick the on switch.

Despite calls of disgust from a large number of organisations many people seem drawn to ‘extreme clipping’. One lady we talk to has already had her front hedge done with the ride on mower and next week is planning to have her legs shaved with her own lawnmower suspended from her caravan roof. She then wants her armpit hair removed using a 6 foot lathe and her ultimate goal is to have her nose hair removed with the propeller of a cesna plane.

So far the New Zealand company can offer a range of impressive options to suit whatever their client wants. It is a real case of the company meeting the consumer. The two most popular services the company offers are the ‘Van Gogh’ where your ear hair is removed using an orbital sander and the ‘stevie wonder’ where your eye lashes are trimmed using an electric bread knife ( incidentally it was this procedure that has bought about the impending lawsuit).

All in all this is one of the real success stories of the economic downturn and really we should all take our hats off to this company. While many have just stood by and watched their company’s collapse this group has found a niche market and look set to make their millions.