Olympic grace, will and misdirection

The Olympics should be great to watch on TV, the draw of the medals giving significance to sports that are usually ignored.
The ethos should be great too – wars to be stopped to allow the games to take place, taking part doing your best, boosting public health.
Then the drama.
Three standout moments for me.

The British trampolinist who broke down when she knew she’d win a medal and she hadn’t expected it, and she’d been poorly in 2012.   The Chinese world champion trampolinist who came behind her and you could just see that she thought the scoring was wrong – and yet after that moment’s bewilderment, she regained her grace.  And the Chinese boxer’s scare stare into the camera – she was to lose to Adams, but what a look.
And of course you need good opponents – even when you were sick of that Argentinian who kept coming back against Murray even though he had a dead leg.
You might even need good losers – the grace with which the British epee finalist, invited to complain about some of the judging decisions against him, said, that’s the sport. Sports broadcasters across the developed world are praying that will not be picked up as a trend – just how would they fill their schedules?
The emphasis on the Olympics medal table by the BBC is getting tedious. Yes,we’re second but we are 65 million people and we’re the world’s fifth largest economy  – sorry, sixth, post Brexit.   There is though a bit of payback here – for years Team GB suffered when we obeyed the amateur code while others didn’t, and then there’s the doping – which we  British never do (er, I’m sure that’s right).
The coverage too is getting tedious too.  Failing to accurately describe what’s happening; or to properly develop our understanding of some of the sports covered.  (Yeah, sweeping.)   Wanting competitors’ emotions rather than understanding.
Repeating the myth that it’s about the will rather than ability, capability and knowledge – and training, investment and access to facilities.
The Guardian has an article suggesting that at the current rates, we’ve invested GBP5.5m per medal.

The article also explains that sports that could use investment are losing out.
And gives an honourable mention to Derby City Council for acting to keep facilities open to support the swimming club for the GB swimmer who won gold.
The Meadows has a swimming pool that Rebecca Adlington once used, and in fact was the base for the Rebecca Adlington of the 1920’s – Constance Jeans – who at one stage held 5 world record times in swimming. Yet, the pool was nearly closed cos of the cuts in public services expenditure.
Meanwhile, free sessions are being offered to kids, but the take up is not good – not clear why – have heard suggestions such as:
– kids suspect it can’t be free, or
– the emphasis on participation passes less well-off communities by,
– we don’t have the right kind of people trained to engage youngsters.
I don’t know.
But we know the spirit of the commitments made for London to win the right to host the 2012 Olympics has been lost and we could do better, especially if we did more to support councils in sports participation, for excellence, for recreation and for public health.


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