The Week: 15th – 21st August

Hotel Hotel Canberra Australia Foyer Entrance Sonya Heaney 17th August 2016

Award-winning foyer of award-winning(!) Hotel Hotel in Canberra for lunch with Ukrainian embassy friends on Wednesday.

Parliament House and Science Week Flags Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 17th August 2016

Science Week flags on the way to Australian Parliament on Wednesday afternoon.

Battle of Long Tan Fiftieth Anniversary Commemoration Christopher Heaney Sonya Heaney 18th August 2016 Canberra Australia Anzac ParadeDSCN8164Battle of Long Tan Fiftieth Anniversary Commemoration Christopher Heaney Sonya Heaney 18th August 2016 Canberra Australia Anzac ParadeDSCN8208

(My father’s view.)

Thursday was the fiftieth anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan. Here in Canberra we had the national ceremony, on Anzac Parade near the Australian War Memorial.

  canberralongtanflover

One of the military planes that came straight over our house. X

My father attended, and then when he was going out to lunch with another veteran afterwards, someone saw their medals and paid for their lunch without them knowing about it!

Australia didn’t win anywhere near as many medals as expected at the Rio Olympics (considering how much money we pour into sport), but we just won the women’s Modern Pentathlon.

Australia's Chloe Esposito wins shock gold at Rio Olympics in modern pentathlon

(Notice all the empty seats in the background.)

Chloe Esposito pictured after her swim.

I actually saw this event at the Sydney Games in 2000, and even though it gets NO attention, it’s pretty amazing. The athletes have to compete in fencing, swimming, horse jumping, shooting and running – that’s five sports, not just running or swimming in a line for a few seconds and then getting multi-million-dollar endorsements!

It’s sad nobody gives them any notice.

But what an odd Olympics in general. The cheating. The idiotic behaviour of some athletes. The locals moving non-Brazilian athletes to tears in many sports because they boo everyone like it’s all so much fun. Not exactly the Olympic spirit!

_90815521_lavllenie_nowwordstweetPole-vaulter Renaud Lavillenie consoled by Thiago Braz and Sergei Bubka after he was booed at medal ceremony.

The gymnastics equipment from Rio is being donated to Ukraine at the end of the event. Many of history’s most successful gymnasts – including the most successful woman in Olympic history, in any sport – have been Ukrainian or Belarusian (though the world refers to all people from the USSR as “the Russians”!), but now with the invasion Ukraine has NO money for the sport. They still managed a silver and a gold this time.

My review of Shelter Me: A Shelter Novel by Stephanie Tyler

Shelter Me A Shelter Novel by Stephanie Tyler

My review of Here Without You by Tammara Webber

here-without-you-by-tammara-webber

Newest by Tammara Webber

Brave (Contours of the Heart #4) by Tammara Webber

The Week: 8th – 14th August

Monday Winter Sunset Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 8th August 2016 Sky Garden Clouds Nature

Winter Sunset

And another one:

Winter Sunset Canberra Australia. 12th August 2016. Sonya Heaney. Sky Clouds Nature.

King Parrot Canberra Australia Sonya Oksana Heaney 9th August 2016 Winter Flowers Garden Nature 2

King Parrot Canberra Australia Sonya Oksana Heaney 9th August 2016 Winter Flowers Garden Nature 3

This week we discovered why all of the flowers out the back keep getting demolished! We’ve had petals everywhere for a few weeks!

And all our other birds have started turning up – it’s nearly spring, and they come to the door for snacks. On Wednesday we had magpie visitors for the first time this season.

It is very sunny here every day, and I’m starting to feel the allergies coming, but I can’t wait! 🙂

Because I’m often up really late at night, and because we are nearly a full day ahead of the Americas, I have been watching some of the Olympics live in the middle of the night. I can’t believe how many drug cheats there still are. While the US is at (verbal) war with Russia in the pool, we are being attacked by China (and hacked, and abused in their media) because one of our swimmers called a drug cheat… a drug cheat. Who says sport isn’t political!

“Medals over Morals” was what an official said about the Russian doping program. I like it. 🙂

Russian military convoy in Kerch yesterday evening http-liveuamap.com-en-2016-7-august-russian-military-convoy-in-kerch-yesterday-evening … via @HromadskeRadio

What has been happening while the world has been watching Rio. X

While everyone is watching the sport, and obsessing over Trump (WHAT a guy), Putin has been moving MASSIVE conveys of tanks and missiles to the Ukrainian border. He invaded Georgia after the Beijing Olympics. He first invaded Ukraine immediately after the Sochi Olympics. And he is about to invade other parts of Ukraine as soon as the Rio Olympics finish.

But – hey – sport!

World Cat Day

Jemima Cat

Rio’s most amazing athlete.

Oksana_Chusovitina_(vault)_04-2011

Unleashing Mr Darcy

Unleashing Mr Darcy by Teri Wilson

My review of Wolf Creek Wife (Wolf Creek #5) by Penny Richards

Wolf Creek Wife (Wolf Creek #5) by Penny Richards

My review of Marriage Made in Hope (The Penniless Lords #4) by Sophia James

Marriage Made in Hope (The Penniless Lords #4) by Sophia James

 My review of The Inscription (The MacAlpins #1) by Pam Binder

The Inscription (The MacAlpins #1) by Pam Binder

The Week: 17th -23rd February

Ukrainian government attacks demonstrators in Kyiv night of 18th Februrary 2014

The Ukrainian government moved in to attack demonstrators in Kyiv on the night of the 18th.

What an awful week. Everybody in the world should be horrified by the large-scale slaughter of Ukrainian civilians by the Ukrainian authorities, but it’s pretty personal to me. #1 Because I come from a very patriotic Ukrainian family. #2 Because I know people protesting in the square (unarmed, against police with military-grade weapons) where most of the killings have occurred. #3 Because I’ve been to Kyiv mulitple times (and yes, the capital city’s official name is KYIV – KIEV is the Russian name!), and always stayed within a stone’s throw of the main square. #4 Because I’ve been watching it live online, and turning on your computer to see people administering CPR – and then seeing people being pronounced dead – really drives home how awful the situation is there.

It has made it very hard for me to enjoy the Olympics – especially considering Russia’s role in all of this. To make things worse, I’m very heavily invested in figure skating (and – coincidentally – share my name with one of the greatest skaters of all time), and none of the right skaters won!

Because of all of this, my reading and my blog really suffered this week. However, I did manage three of the four or so reviews I’d planned on posting!

My review of Dangerous in Diamonds by Madeline Hunter

 Dangerous in Diamonds by Madeline Hunter

My review of The Fall of a Saint by Christine Merrill

 The Fall of a Saint by Christine Merrill

My review of Never Have I Ever by Katie Heaney

 Never Have I Ever by Katie Heaney

The Week: 10th – 16th February

Gracie Gold USA Figure Skating Team Free Skate Sochi Winter Olympics 2014

Gracie Gold

It was a bit of an odd week as far as reading went. I finished a couple of Regency romances, read an excellent upcoming Sarah Mayberry book. I’m feeling a little restless – I keep browsing the review books on NetGalley, looking for whatever it is I’m in the mood for, but I haven’t figured it out yet!

Is this the first time the Winter Olympics turned into the Summer Olympics?

Sochi has been 18°C (64.4°F) for a few days now! What a strange mess of an Olympics this has been.

Here is a great series of images outlining why the Opening Ceremony was so incredibly offensive – particularly to Ukrainians. Even if The Huffington Post does call Kyiv by the Russian name, Kiev! I was also hugely annoyed that Sochi used so many Ukrainians past and present to represent “Russia”…

Sochi Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony 2014

My review of Her Rancher Rescuer by Donna Alward

Her Rancher Rescuer by Donna Alward

My review of The Bear by Claire Cameron

The Bear by Claire Cameron

My review of Sinful in Satin by Madeline Hunter

Sinful in Satin by Madeline Hunter

My review of A 1950s Housewife by Sheila Hardy

A 1950s Housewife by Sheila Hardy

US Gymnasts Everywhere

When an American girl wins an Olympic gymnastics medal, there’s an almighty rush to cash in on it!

Even here in Australia I’ve caught the “Fierce Five” (and let me go on record as saying that name is absolutely god-awful) on television multiple times (and the stupid idiot Channel Nine folks didn’t even show the team final on television here!).

McKayla Maroney’s “I lost the gold medal on vault” face now has its own segment on the David Letterman Show. The gang on TMZ were having a go at impersonating her. The gymnasts are all on the Cornflakes box. About two minutes after the competition in London ended, Entertainment Tonight was interviewing them on top of the Empire State Building in New York.

And – like with a manufactured boy band – the media has already attributed certain characteristics to each girl, presenting them as particular personality traits rather than real people who have achieved extraordinary things.

McKayla Maroney is well and truly more than a joke face!

Stupid media. Maybe they should pay more attention to everything these girls achieve in the years between Olympics. It would make their coverage so much more interesting!

Rhythmic Gymnastics at the Olympics

There are a lot of people who make a lot of fun of Rhythmic Gymnastics, but there’s no denying what those women do is nothing short of amazing.

I cringed at a few costumes, and wondered why the gymnast from Azerbaijan chose stripper music for one of her routines, but in the end, the main thing I took away from watching the London competition was that those women are incredible.

What I wouldn’t have given for a few of their coaches back when I did ballet. How in the world can they spin and jump like that?!

Also, epic fail Channel Nine. We asked for gymnastics, and you showed none of it. Then you showed us almost all of the rhythmic gymnastics instead – and it’s a completely different sport!

Picture Source

Who would have thought Aly Raisman would emerge an Olympic star?!

I kind of did, actually. I can’t believe nobody noticed she existed until she – you know – beat World Champions at every turn and became an Olympic Champion. I knew she had it in her!

(Completely irrelevant, but is she getting prettier every day, or am I imagining things?!)

A big yay to USA’s Aly Raisman for going home from the Olympics with two gold medals and a bronze. Raisman, the gymnast people have been writing off for a couple of years, and who apparently “stole” a spot from a teammate. Good thing, that, as it turns out she’s better at winning medals than the others!

I do prefer more balletic gymnastics, but Aly’s Floor routine was unbelievable, and you could see her pushing herself to complete those split leaps, and grab every last execution point. So happy for her, and also for Cătălina Ponor and Aliya Mustafina. Not everything went the way I wanted, but I’m pretty satisfied.

Floor Medallists

However.

If last night’s Uneven Bars final was the best ever, tonight’s Beam had to be the worst.

Poor Deng Linlin pulled out a fantastic routine, only to have it overshadowed by her teammate’s temper tantrum over winning silver. The (Chinese) telecast I saw showed her pulling off her silver medal no less than three times from the medal podium through the photo shoots, and then trying her best to run away from reporters.

She put her teammate – who did outperform her – in a position where she felt like she couldn’t celebrate.

Beam Medallists

And then there was the fact another score was contested, taking the bronze medal off Cătălina Ponor and handing it to Aly Raisman. I’m not going to get into whether or not that should have happened, as I’ve been a Ponor fan since back in 2003, and so probably biased. But I’m happy for Aly.

The rest of the beam final was characterised by crash and fall and fall and wobble. Not a very solid final for most! Viktoria Komova just gave up. You get to the Olympics and you give up, fall, then give up and fall again? I know this wasn’t the Olympic experience she wanted, but two silver medals is nothing to be ashamed of.

And poor two-time gold medallist Gabby Douglas seemed to just run out of steam over the last two days. Oh well. Two golds? Not too shabby!

And congratulations to the men. Couldn’t be happier with the results from their two finals tonight!

A special mention has to go to Channel Nine, for the worst Olympic coverage ever. Australian gymnast Lauren Mitchell has been hyped and hyped, and then they didn’t even show her final – choosing instead to show us Australia losing a water polo semi-final. They then showed us Lauren’s routine, and only Lauren’s, later and pretended it was live.

But as I’d already seen it on Chinese television I knew better. Hell, they couldn’t even bother showing their beloved (and boring) cycling live. Yet they pretended that was too.

The commentary is stellar too. The dickhead here said American Aly was Romanian, and that the Chinese gymnasts won all the floor medals (there weren’t even any Chinese gymnasts there!).

Aliya Mustafina wins, and Ukraine finally gets a medal in gymnastics

Pretty much everyone wrote off 2010 World Champion Aliya Mustafina of Russia after she destroyed her knee last year. Her comeback was slow, and she certainly wasn’t the star of Russia at the European Championships only weeks ago.

And then she turned up in London looking fantastic, and now has gold, silver and bronze, with one final still to go.

The Uneven Bars final last night was incredible. Almost anybody who competed deserved a medal, they were that good.

I’m also thrilled Ukraine finally got a medal (in Men’s Vault) after coming fourth in everything so far. In the Rings final, I was overjoyed for Brazilian Arthur Nabarrete Zanetti’s shock win.

What a great night at the Artistic Gymnastics, and only one more to go!

Farewell to Oksana Chusovitina

Medallists McKayla Maroney, Sandra Izbaşa and Maria Paseka

The gymnastics last night was heartbreaking. Seeing McKayla Maroney – far and away the best vaulter in the history of women’s gymnastics – fall for only the second time in her entire career, is the worst thing I’ve ever seen in Olympic gymnastics. What a time she picked to screw up and go home with silver!

Seeing Sandra Izbașa take the gold was great though.

But then we had Germany’s Janine Berger – who spent so much time sobbing about not getting a medal on vault that she stole all the camera time from her incredible teammate Oksana Chusovitina: the woman everyone should have been talking about.

Oksana Chusovitina

In what was her last competiton ever, the former Soviet star of gymnastics didn’t quite manage to make the podium last night.

Chusovitina is a six-time Olympian, has been a World Champion for the USSR, an Olympic Champion for the Unified Team, a World silver medallist for Uzbekistan, an Olympic silver medallist for Germany. She’s the mother of a twelve-year-old son who has overcome leukaemia. She’s a wife. A coach of other Olympic gymnasts. She’s thirty-seven years old, has survived the collapse of the communist training system, and her body has somehow survived decades in the world’s most difficult sport.

Chusovitina in the past

After her second vault last night she waved to the crowd in a farewell to the greatest gymnastics career there has ever been.

So congratulations to all the medallists last night, even if nobody went home with the colour they were expecting.

To McKayla Maroney: please stick around until 2016 and win the gold medal you should have won last night.

To Oksana Chusovitina: thank you for the most incredible career in the most incredible sport.

Waving goodbye