Saturday 5 May 2012

James Bond's Olympics

There has been much speculation in the press and on the web about James Bond's role in the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics. The latest rumour is that Bond will receive a knighthood from the Queen (we'll ignore the fact that Bond turns down a knighthood in The Man with the Golden Gun; it's not that he's averse to the idea of a knighthood, just that he'd refuse to call himself Sir James Bond). Assuming that Bond is present at the opening of the games, what events would he stick around to watch?

We know from Bond's obituary in Ian Fleming's You Only Live Twice that Bond, while at school at Fettes, formed friendships among the athletic circles, boxed for the school as a light-weight, and founded a judo class. The judo events begin on the 28th July, while the first round of boxing (light division) takes place the day after. (Incidentally, the regulation weight for the light division is 60kg; Bond's weight in From Russia, with Love is given as 76kg, so by the time Bond was engaged on his adventure in Turkey, he had put on enough weight to box at middle weight.)

As for the athletics, I suspect that Bond would be keen to follow the track events. Given that Bond shares many interests with Fleming, it is reasonable to suggest that Bond, like Fleming, was runner at school (Fleming had particular success at Eton with the mile, half-mile, quarter-mile and steeplechase). Round 1 of the 3000m steeplechase takes place on Friday 3rd August, and no doubt Bond will be watching this with interest. Fleming's other running events are now roughly equivalent to the 1500m, the 800m and the 400m. Bond's in for a long busy weekend of Olympic viewing: the first round of the 1500m begins on the 3rd August, Saturday 4th sees the start of the 400m contest, and the 800m competition starts on Monday 6th August.

The long jump was another event at which Fleming excelled while at Eton. If Fleming gave Bond his interest in the discipline, then Bond should note that the qualifiers start on the 3rd August. As Fleming was something of an all-rounder, then Bond might also be interested in the decathlon, which includes the long jump, 400m and 1500m.

Being a crack shot and, as we learn in 'The Living Daylights', good enough to have a fair chance of winning the Queen's Prize for shooting, James Bond would no doubt be keen to follow the shooting events. In particular, Bond is likely to appreciate the skills demanded in the 50m rifle prone (qualification begins on the 3rd August), the 50m rifle 3 positions (commencing on the 6th August), the 50m pistol (beginning on the 5th August), and the 25m rapid fire pistol (beginning on the 2nd August). 

As well as an athlete and marksman, James Bond is also a swimmer, as revealed in Live and Let Die and Thunderball. The long-distance swimming events (such as the 1500m freestyle or the 10km marathon) might be of interest to Bond, although, reminiscing about his adventures, he might wonder how the swimmers would manage with a barracuda or two snapping at their toes. However, Bond would probably give the equestrian events a miss. Fleming had a life-long dislike of riding after bad experiences on horses during his youth and at Sandhurst. It is an antipathy that Bond is likely to share.

The film Bond has slightly divergent interests. We know from Die Another Day that Bond is handy with the sword, and so might watch some of the fencing events. In Moonraker, Bond takes part in a pheasant shoot, while in Thunderball Largo invites him to shoot a clay pigeon, and Bond might retain enough interest in the pastime to watch the trap shooting in London.

Lycett, A, 1995 Ian Fleming: the man behind James Bond, Turner

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