Posted August 13th, 2012
At the time of writing, it’s currently day 11 of the Olympic Games. I am a sports fan. Has to be said though that I didn’t really picture myself being too interested in the Games in London. It just felt a bit…….far away. Being the fan of the beautiful game that I am, I can point out how international tournaments are given country (rather than city) designation when it comes to selecting (I use the term very loosely!) hosts. Not only that, but us Brits are eternal self-deprecating pessimists when it comes to sport these days. Well having found myself slowly but surely drawn to all that is team GB I think it’s high time we left that cynicism on the football pitch.
GB football, drawing mainly on English talent, managed to do what England mainly do. Quarter final exit on penalties. YAWN! But what bothered me most is that I missed Jess Ennis striding to Gold in the 800m, the last event of the heptathlon to watch the football! More fool me right? It’s really starting to register that in actual fact, when it comes to sport, as a nation we do ok. Whether it’s as England/Scotland/Wales/Northern Ireland or Great Britain, we do have much to be proud of. We do well in the Rugby, the cricket team is neatly brushing aside all comers (let’s face it, as long as we beat the Aussies that’s all that really matters right…….if only Germany had a cricket team of worth), and our young Athletes, and not so young Sailors, Cyclists, Horse Riders etc…..well they really are doing us proud.
At the moment we are only one Gold medal behind what we achieved in Beijing. And there are still 6 days to go! It isn’t just about the competition though. The whole event has been a marked success so far. Right from the opening ceremony – wonderfully directed by Danny Boyle whose commentary on the covert dismantling of the NHS by the current administration raised many eyebrows – full of humour and artistic endeavour, to last night’s victory at the Velodrome, it has been fantastic. There was much scepticism and criticism before the games began but it’s always been this way in Blighty. The negative talk almost seems to part of the ceremonial build up to events of this sort held on our shores. Ultimately, barring major disasters, it just serves to make the ensuing festivities all the more magnificent. It’s a far cry from the almost shy, awkward and “don’t expect too much from us” handover in Beijing four years ago.
We should start believing in our nation again. The bids and organisation for these events can sometimes leave one feeling a bit detached. It almost initially seems little more than a jumped up PR exercise. However, once talented, creative, committed and gifted people get hold of these things and truly start to pull it together it’s hard to imagine how it can be surpassed. That’ll be the task for the organisers in Rio. And I say good luck to them….on current evidence they are really going to have to pull out all the stops to top what is shaping up to be the best Olympic Games of modern times. It’s a shame there isn’t something that Britain can do more regularly that would enable us to invite the world over for the summer. Maybe not annually, but these events come around so seldom. Perhaps that’s what makes them so special, but it’s a shame that we won’t get to see such an event on this Isle again for many years. Perhaps not even in mine or your life time.
The organisation has been tremendous from what I can see. The stadium looks to be constantly at capacity and the Olympic park looks very modern and also very jovial at the same time. All that was left was the question of whether our Athletes could step up and to be frank, even if not another medal was won between now and the end of the tournament they have done the nation proud.
Sitting very nicely in 3rd on the medal table with the USA and China ahead. And although an obvious point, it is always worth underlining that both the a fore mentioned super powers have populations that dwarf our own considerably. It isn’t as if we are flooking the triumphs either. There has been many assured and dominant performances in quite a few disciplines. Particularly in the cycling and sailing.
There is no shame in jumping on the Olympic Bandwagon. It’s our tournament for the world and it is there for us all to enjoy. Why pretend to be disenchanted when it’s all so much fun?
Hundreds of years ago there was a breed of chemists that believed you could forge Gold by mixing elements and by weaving magic in to chemical compounds. Perhaps if they were alive today they may realise that determination, belief, talent and dedication are the main ingredients in forging precious metals where there were none before.
Image Credit : flickr.com/ianpatterson