Saturday, 4 August 2012

The good, the bad and the Uglympics

You may or may not have noticed that the 2012 Olympics is taking place in London at the moment. John and I are keen sports fans and have been watching as much of the Games as possible, even to the extent of taking  my smartphone to a concert in our local castle last night and checking the tennis results while the band was warming up.  Such dedication, I hear you say!  Those of us who are over 60 may not be as athletic as we once were, but we can still enjoy watching sport and it may inspire us to great things in the Race for Life that takes place in November.

There are many good things about the Olympics and here are just a few of them:  
- watching personal striving by all the competitors to do their best and admiring their achievements, whether it is an Olympic medal or a new personal best; 
- team spirit, especially in those events when one member of the team is being supported by the others to win a gold medal while their own reward is only the satisfaction if they succeed; 
- patriotism (in a good way).  My fellow countrymen seem so proud to be British, which in itself isn't a very British characteristic;  
- showcasing the host nation's sights (London and the other venues have been looking amazing); 
- inspiration for future generations (I loved the fact that seven promising young athletes lit the Olympic cauldron rather than a "big" name);
- friendships being forged between the different nations.  If we can unite in sport, maybe we can learn to understand each other, to appreciate our differences and respect all the world's citizens.

Of course there are bad things too, particularly for the many athletes who have dedicated themselves to four years of hard work, making many sacrifices, in their quest to win a gold medal - only to fail at the last minute.  Or have they failed? Is succeeding in reaching an Olympic final in your sport considered a failure?  Is winning a silver or bronze medal actually a failure?  It all depends on your expectations.  
The GB men's gymnastics team was considered to have been very successful when the men unexpectedly reached the final, never mind when they actually won bronze medals. However look at the reaction of one member of the GB lightweight double sculls after winning silver and missing out on gold:
Mark Hunter: "We gave everything. We tried everything. We wanted to win so badly and sorry to everyone who we have let down."
Mark, you and Zac Purchase didn't let anyone down - you won silver medals for goodness sake!  We are all very proud of you.
However what about the eight badminton players who didn't give it their all?  That was bad, if not ugly, and they have justifiably been punished by the Badminton World Federation for "not using one's best efforts to win" and disqualified from the women's doubles.
While we are talking about cheating, let's not forget the negative effect drugs have had on the world of sport.  The authorities are cracking down, of course, and it looks as if they are winning the battle.  It's good to see how many athletes are being tested at the Olympics and I hope this means we can look forward to clean sports in future.
The GB football supporters were definitely ugly when they booed Luis Suarez during the match between GB and Uruguay. Luis isn't exactly squeaky clean, having been banned for racial abuse, but I was brought up to believe that two wrongs don't make a right.  To make it worse, they booed during the Uruguay anthem, which showed a total lack of respect towards guests in our country.
Have you been watching the Olympics?  What are your highlights so far?


  1. I have been peripherally watching-- hubby has them on, so I am exposed to it by association. I'm not really a big sports fan, even when it's the Olympics, but I can certainly admire the dedication that these athletes have displayed to reach this stage.

    And, I absolutely believe that making it to the Games is a huge success--advancing beyond that is icing on the cake. (Amazing icing, to be sure, but icing just the same.) It makes me sort of sad when these athletes feel so downtrodden and dejected just because they didn't "win".

  2. I guess it's the fact that many of these athletes have dedicated themselves over four long years to trying to win a medal. As you say, you have to admire their dedication including the sacrifices they have made. What I enjoy is seeing the happiness of the younger competitors when they reach their first Olympic final or even semi-final. Their excitement and enthusiasm in itself is inspiring.