Monday, 25 August 2008

The Return of our Olympians

Today we saw the return of our British Olympic Team which the BBC has christened 'Team GB' a term that many of us find derogatory. Generally we did very well but let's face it the blue riband events are the Track and Field athletes who with notable exceptions performed no better than average.

We have completely lost our way where the middle and long distance events can only be described as a national disgrace. For far too long the presence of Paula Radcliffe has disguised our weakness in this sphere. We have two middle distance athletes Andy Baddeley and Lisa Dobriskey who have the capability to challenge in the 1500 metres but when the chips were down they both failed to run up to their potential. Lisa in particular just didn't seem to believe that she could have won a medal as she consistently wandered to the inside where she could not cover the moves up front. I think that Brendan Foster's outburst on TV was necessary and well made.

Perhaps I am being unfair because when I was fourteen I trained regularly around the darkened streets expecting that I would be safe. Every week we ran cross country races at school and so potential long distance athletes could be discovered and encouraged. Today the average fourteen year old is probably too scared to leave his computer to train in the streets. Certainly I have never seen a school cross country take place in recent years and judging by the spindly little legs jutting out from beneath shorts this summer few are exposed to regular exercise.

Still athletics apart something works in Britain today because so many did achieve in their chosen sports and the potential is there for 2012. I did notice however that much of our success was in events which could be described as 'elitist'. You know not many inner city kids sail or row and I reckon there has to be some social advantage to pick up one of those special bikes that the cyclists use. I do know however that the poor girl who bashed herself to bits on the BMX cycling probably would not count herself as having a social advantage. There are always exceptions to the rule.

Their homecoming today appeared to be a joy. It was however, marred by one man. I nearly threw up when I saw that the PM who has recently sold off so many school sports fields had positioned himself at the entrance door so that nobody could avoid shaking his hand. Does it never occur to him that he is a deeply unpopular person and I am sure that many of the returning athletes would not want to be greeted by him. It was so creepy and so unnecessary.

I see that Guido Fawkes on his blog is seriously questioning the PM's sanity. The venomous comments he has attracted from people who agree with him indicates that he is not alone in this line of thinking. It is worth a visit.

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