I bloomin’ love the Olympics I do. Every time I get sucked right in, spending hours watching sports that don’t normally get any airtime, gasping at these amazing athletes who quietly dedicate their lives to judo and and cycling and rowing. It’s apparently something of an in-joke that as a nation we’re dead good at the sports that involve sitting down or standing still, but it seems that we could produce amazing athletes and swimmers if only we looked a bit harder.
Perhaps some of football’s money ought to get channelled into swimming and running…
The Guardian ran an article today about the disproportionate level of competitors who come from public schools, which says a lot for the underfunding of sports in our education system, and the lack of opportunity if you don’t have the money to go to archery club, or ride a horse, or even go swimming more than once a week. At my school they brought out the interesting sports about once a year (trampolining, basketball) and instead forced us to play endless netball or hockey. Kids need access to find out what they’re good at, and what they like, and sports have a positive role in boosting self respect and confidence that can impact academic achievement as well, so it’s not a case of sacrificing one thing for another.
Rowing is interesting in this respect. They launched an initiative to find people who had the right physique and went into state schools to hunt out talent, with the result that 50% of their team is now from state education, and one of our gold medallists first went rowing after Beijing 2008. Some way to go admittedly, but it’s in the right direction. I hope the Games motto of ‘inspire a generation’ is backed up with some positive action.
That wasn’t at all what I wanted to say when I set out to write this post. What I wanted to tell you is that I have cried every day during this Olympiad. I wanted to tell you that when we are out and about in London everyone is smiling, and strangers are talking to each other. I wanted to tell you that it is going so well, and we are really enjoying being part of it.
I wanted to tell you that, national boundaries aside, we are all part of the same tribe, and it’s wonderful to celebrate our potential together.