Steve Titmus realises his daughter Ariarne didn’t win gold.
Steve Titmus realises his daughter Ariarne didn’t win gold.

MAFS guy recaps day one of the Commonwealth Games

NOW that Sally Pearson has ditched us, the heartbroken dad of a teen swimming sensation is the only recognisable person associated with the Australian Commonwealth Games team.

Our team was once star-studded. Ian Thorpe, Cathy Freeman, Geoff Huegill, Grant Hackett, Jana Pittman. Some moved on to have successful post-sport careers while others suffered dark setbacks that continue to provide fun narratives for New Idea.

But I don't want to read about any of our current athletes in New Idea. And now that Pearson has piked, I don't even know any of their names. It's like this current bunch aren't even trying to bring something to the table. No one's got a famous spouse sitting in the crowd. There hasn't even been a questionable slur made on social media that can be spun out of context and used to create an interesting media storm.

This lack of recognisable names and drama leaves the sporting world difficult to navigate for the everyday person.

As what can only be described as workplace bullying, my editor assigned me reporting duties for day one of the Commonwealth Games.

"But I'm gay," I replied, clutching my chest. The assignment was frightening but I like both a challenge and men in Lycra so I didn't argue. I promptly picked up my belongings and sauntered down to the other sport reporters who promptly sent me back to my own desk far away from them.

After recapping Wednesday night's opening ceremony, I was informed the observations made about both Camilla's clear boredom and her decision to read a magazine were not appreciated by event organisers.

I completely understand where they're coming from. Gross speculation and gossip does not fit in with the tone they've worked tirelessly to create for these fabulous games and I totally respect that. So I'll focus entirely on the sport.

Here's a bunch of hot guys I watched at the Men's Artistic Gymnastics:

I love sport.
I love sport.

The male gymnastics is transfixing. Lean, tanned men with ropy arms from around the world wear cute shorts with tucked-in singlets as they somersault around a mat and swing from various bars. And sometimes they all hug. It's during this broadcast I pledge to convert to Buddhism so I can be reincarnated as a gymnast beam in my next life.

Over at the swimming, the atmosphere is electric but apparently you had to be there. Seven thousand spectators piled into the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre to see Australia try and win our first golds for the year in the pool. I can't confirm if any of these seven thousand people present could match names to faces of local competitors.

Seven commentator Basil Zempilas pumped up the men's 400m freestyle and tried to get us interested.

"He was stung by a bee in the pre-training camp and fortunately the swelling went down fast," Basil informed us of Australian star swimmer Mack Horton. "His hand actually swelled up quite significantly. He was pretty happy that it came down just as quickly."

I don't doubt he was thrilled. But part of me secretly wishes Mack's significantly swollen hand hadn't shrunk back down. What a great Commonwealth Games moment we could've had if one of our star swimmers walked out to the blocks with a hand the size of an inflatable pool toy. He would've stared ahead, embarrassed, hoping no one noticed. But to his surprise, the Australian merchandise department had the foresight to produce big swollen inflatable hands and the arena is full of spectators wearing them in support. It would've been heartwarming.

But then disaster would've struck when, after diving in, his one freakishly large hand propelled him through the water lopsided which resulted in him just swimming around in really fast circles before getting tangled in the lane ropes.

Unfortunately his hand was normal-sized and he won gold..
Unfortunately his hand was normal-sized and he won gold..

But even with an unusually large hand, Mack wouldn't have been the talk of the night. He would've been overtaken by proud dad Steve Titmus, whose heartwarming manic cheering for daughter Ariarne in the 200m freestyle quickly turned into heartache when he realised she didn't actually win.

There's something about proud dads that is both sweet and mortifying. Basically their loud, unselfconscious screams of encouragement are totally sweet until you realise it's not someone else's dad but in fact your dad and he's in public and there's a camera crew and oh my god he's wearing his jandles.

I imagine this was the case for 17-year-old Ariarne when - after scoring silver in Thursday night's race - she realised the loud ringing in her ears wasn't caused by an infection from the Gold Coast pool but actually the deafening cries of her father Steve in the stands.

Anticipating the viral moment, producers on the Channel Seven broadcast pounced early and capitalised on dad's excitement - mic'ing him up just to make sure his screams were captured clearly for easy repetitive playback. Excited dads are easy targets and agree to most things.

Steve delivered from the moment his daughter dived into the chlorinated waters. He got louder with each splash and kick. And by the final 50 metres, he was having a conniption.

"Titmus lifting! Titmus goes hard! HITS THE WALL!" the commentator called.

It was all the confirmation Steve needed. His daughter had won. With his hands thrown into the air, he roared.

But there was a pause from the commentator. And, ever so casually, he added, " ... Juuusssst misses" - confirming 17-year-old Canadian Taylor Ruck had touched the wall just nanoseconds before Ariarne. It was the gold medal equivalent of yelling, "Psych!"

Steve couldn't believe it. His hands fell from the air onto his head in disappointment.

"Oh no," he gasped.

His wife held him by the belt loop, stopping her husband from marching over to the clumsy commentator and picking a fight. Proud dads are unpredictable when they're disappointed.

Steve looked at the ground. And then he looked to the pool to see his daughter who just scored silver.

If Ariarne was allowed out of the Athletes Village and able to eat junk food, he'd so take her to Maccas.

For more observations on comically large hands and men's artistic gymnastics, follow me on Twitter: @hellojamesweir



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