The beautiful Games
Every four years, the world’s elite athletes gather in one city and compete to demonstrate their sporting prowess. And every time, we are gripped.
Each Olympic Games is beautifully unique in that it offers the hosts an opportunity to showcase everything that is great about their patch as well as throwing up new sporting icons and legends through achievement.
What always grabs me however, is the way in which we are often drawn to sports that we so often ignore or are even unaware of the rest of the time.
Of the Olympic events, sports like football obviously dominate our screens every single day of the year, while athletics is often at the forefront of the nation’s mind when the Games come around, perhaps simply due to the fact that it is held in the showpiece venue.
The likes of cycling and rowing may not get the mass coverage that other sports get but as examples of areas in which Team GB are strong, many make a date to watch them with their feet up on the sofa.
And then something a little unexpected comes along.
To name but a few, last week saw Gemma Gibbons catch us by surprise in securing a silver medal in the judo, while canoe slalom pair Etienne Stott and Tim Baillie grabbed gold ahead of fellow Brits Richard Hounslow and David Florence who took silver.
It’s not to say these were unexpected or undeserved achievements at all, but how joyful it is too see a different sport getting the airtime.
The Games have a unifying power. Only a select few might have followed the progress of these athletes from their first taste of the action, but when there’s talk of a medal, the nation is hooked and these stars are suddenly the most important thing in the world to us.
What’s more, it doesn’t even have to be a podium finish. A clear example of that would be the British handball squads. Neither the men or women could record a win at the Games but will still consider the competition a success for the way in which the sport has been received by us watching on. It will be interesting to see just how many people now get involved in the sport going forward.
I am a big fan of sports like football and cricket, but isn’t it nice to see something else hogging the column inches in the back pages? With five days to run of London 2012 yet, maybe there’s time to crown a couple more heroes.