Cast your minds back four years to the Olympics in Beijing. The Great Britain team, along with their supporters, were actually stunned to note that they had started winning medals. Bronzes, Silvers and finally Golds were being marked up to the most unlikely victor on the Planet. Used to the news that we were coming a gallant fifth, or worse, in sports and activities which we had invented, suddenly we were actually winning; or at least in the medals! From being a perennial no-hoper, especially in the Medal tables, Great Britain actually came fourth.
So what happens then? Suddenly, the boasts, the predictions, the headlines, all commenced emerging, and it was just like we something we had all seen and heard before. A full Century ago, a British politician saw votes, and more, in allowing the Royal Navy to equip itself with the latest Dreadnought battlecruiser, so as to establish parity with the resurgent German Navy; just across the North Seas. You can check the headlines in the newspapers; “We want eight, and we won’t wait!” So fast forward to this week, and a Sport England headline stating that 85 (eighty-five) medals was a number the Team GB should easily make was fast becoming a nightmare for the officials who had poured over £300 million in to the various sports bodies.
Apart from the simple truth that the Olympics is now a hell of along way away from the principles supported by Baron De Coubertin, is anyone really envisaging the ‘nightmare’ scenario that we, as a Nation, aren’t all that good at sporting activities? Can we honestly state that the very sight of a marshalled and machine-stamped product such as that 16 year-old Chinese swimmer is something we would wish to see inflicted upon any British child?
It is a very, very rare time when I am more than in full agreement with any BBC broadcaster, but for my money, Lynne Truss had it just about right, the medal target should have been FOUR, and anything else is and should be, a bonus for the whole country, not a disaster. After all, it is only a game!