MATT BUCHANAN August 11, 2012
Playful ... Jamaica's Usain Bolt. Photo: AFP
The Olympics, though never quite off the news podium, could also never be assured of the top spot this week. Except, perhaps, when Usain Bolt did it again in the 100 metres. And again in the 200m (and doubtless again in the 4x100m relay, tomorrow morning Australian time). He achieved it all with thrilling power, but it was his playful antics afterwards (push-ups on the track, horsing around with the photographers) and his easy joy that was truly winning. Has there been a champion since Muhammed Ali with such evident good nature? Sally Pearson did a Cathy Freeman, winning a gold medal we all expected but were also desperately anxious about. A 16-year-old diver from the Gold Coast, Brittany Broben, scored a surprise silver. And the Aussies on the water (sailing, kayak) grabbed the gold eluding those in it - the three golds hoisting us up the medal table to 10th - still a long way from Yorkshire, whose athletes in Team GB had by midweek won 22 gold medals, placing them third overall.
This week was also about what we lost. Our greatest art critic Robert Hughes died aged 74. He was best known for his 30 years as art critic for Time and for the TV series The Shock of the New - but, like Bolt, perhaps, it was his style that gripped us. His friend Adam Gopnik wrote: ''As with all first-rate writers, the bite, and even occasional bluster, was covering up something, and in Bob's case this was an enormous vulnerability: to experience, to people, to art … one of the indispensable mavericks of modern humanism.''
In miserable juxtaposition, his namesake, the former star of the sitcom Hey Dad..! was arrested in London and charged with several sexual assaults on five girls, among them former cast members, between 1985 and 1990. He was released on bail, awaiting a hearing on extradition.
On a lighter note, police were busy here, too, chasing down Kings Cross identity John Ibrahim's escaped parrot. Two police cars and four officers succeeded in recovering the birdie. Ibrahim, appropriately enough, was soon tweeting, letting us know his canary didn't sing: ''Lucky the bird kept its mouth shut to police … ''
The big story locally was the announcement of an ICAC inquiry in November into allegations of corruption involving the former Labor minister Eddie Obeid, the former treasurer Eric Roozendaal, and the disgraced former mining minister Ian MacDonald. Under the spotlight will be the granting of coal exploration licences and allegations that Obeid gave confidential information about the tender process. State Labor's pain just won't stop.
In Moscow the trial of Russian punk trio Pussy Riot ended on Thursday, with the verdict to come next week. The three women are accused of being rude to Vladimir Putin (they performed a so-called ''punk prayer'' satirising him at a gig in February). The prosecutor's call for three years in prison seemed satirically excessive, but then if you're representing the unsatirisable Putin it probably seemed a bit light-on. Also in court: Gu Kailai, the wife of former politician Bo Xilai went on trial behind close doors in Beijing for the poisoning murder of British businessman Neil Heywood. Gu and her co-accused Zhang Xaiojun raised no objection to the charge of intentional homicide.