We’ve all just had a thrilling 2 weeks of Olympic sport. In Beijing in 2008, Team GB finished fourth in the medal table with 19 golds and with Russia ahead of us in 3rd place. In London, Team GB finished third in the medal table with 29 golds, ahead of Russia this time, although they pushed us hard towards the end finishing with 24 golds and more medals overall.
I’m old enough to remember great Olympic performances in the past from the likes of Mark Spitz and Carl Lewis, and even further back to David Hemery in Mexico and Ann Packer in Tokyo 1964, but for me, London 2012 has really been the most memorable Olympics of them all, probably thanks to a fantastic all-round performance from Team GB and of course to the great sportsmanship and grace of all the participants, barring just a couple. Humility in winning (for example, Sir Chris Hoy), grace in accepting silver or bronze (Tom Daley), respect for their rivals, all after 4 years of supreme dedication and sacrifice to their sport, is what makes the Olympics a really special sporting event. There were a few ‘on the day’ performances when someone can just have a blinder and take gold beating the favourites for the title, as opposed to the ‘inevitable gold’ where heroes like Usain Bolt easily triumph. I think if the 100 metres had been run again the next day, there would still only have been one winner. It’s difficult to pick out special performances, but three stand out for me – Sir Chris Hoy in the keirin and Mo Farah in the 5000 m, both showing terrific determination to successfully hold off the opposition on the final lap to claim well deserved victories. And a supreme performance from Andy Murray in the tennis.
We’re now faced with ‘Olympics withdrawal’, and returning to the inevitable humdrum daily sporting fixtures that the media think we want to see and hear. In the UK and especially Scotland where football (soccer to some of you) is king, we’ll be smothered with previews, live commentaries and radio phone-ins from now through until next May. Wouldn’t it be nice to have more regular coverage of the Olympic sports we rarely see here like, say, Taekwondo and handball. To finish, I thought I’d pull out a couple of aspects of sport post-Olympics that could do with an Olympic facelift.
Football – From players feigning injury, play acting and arguing with the referee, to managers trying to argue that black is white, or that grey is black or white, to radio commentators and spectators moaning about referees’ decisions, we could all learn a lot from the Olympic ethos. Guys, incorrect or marginal refereeing decisions will probably even out over the season, just accept them with grace and get on with it. Wouldn’t it be nice to see some of the Olympic sportsmanship in football, particularly grace in defeat. But then perhaps football has a different audience from an Olympic audience. Joey Barton has written a post on what the London Olympics might teach football in the UK, echoing some of my sentiments.
Boxing – So why do all boxers have to perform that mean stereotypical face-off at weigh-ins? Wouldn’t it be so refreshing if they were friendly and polite with each other at the weigh-in. Keep your aggression for the ring.
So time now to unplug post-London 2012, get my old bike out of the shed, and wait patiently for Rio 2016. How are you going to get through the next 4 years? Are you taking up a new sport? Are you in training for competition? What puts you off or annoys you in sport post-Olympics? Drop a comment below.
Image credit: Olympic Athletics 2012