A Senior Moment: Games put the ‘great’ back into Britain

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Phew! What an outstanding Olympics. Spectacular from start to finish.

Step aside the critics, the sceptics, the doubters, the deliberately destructive and disruptive. Stand up and take a bow everyone involved. From Team GB, mentors and trainers to Lord Coe and his team, from the armed services, police and security, to the army of unpaid volunteers. Didn’t we do well? Not bad at all I’d say for an itty-bitty little island the size of a postage stamp. And what huge public support we have witnessed. Unprecedented crowds of cheering flag waving onlookers encouraging our sporting heroes to put the Great back into Britain. And they certainly have.

But have you noticed? Already the moan and groan merchants are cranking up the debate on separatism and elitism, trying to create the impression you have to be posh and privileged to be on the podium – or even the starting line, instead of the humble beginnings divulged by so many of our sporting superstars.

These holier than thou harbingers seem to think every Tom, Dick and Harry should somehow be shoehorned into sporting supremacy at birth. It is right and proper the inspirational legacy of the Games should be supported by better facilities and greater opportunities for youngsters who want and deserve them. Let’s hope this doesn’t turn out to be yet another idle political promise that never sees light of day.

But let’s also not kid ourselves the yobs who ran riot last year did so because of lack of opportunity. They had opportunity all right – to nick every thing in sight. And judging by the statistics released last week, with nearly half of them re-arrested within 12 months, surprise, surprise they’re at it again. In no way interested in anything remotely athletic except legging it with an armful of spoils! And what the do good brigade appear to overlook is that not everyone wants to be an athlete, so let’s not overdo the compulsory curriculum route – we could put off more youngsters than we attract.

Leading the charge for medals at team gloom doom and despondency is of course Auntie Beeb’s Newsnight. Who else? If ever there are medals given for aggressive interviewing and dogmatic dialogue they’d take gold silver and bronze! And as for BBC brass reportedly instructing their TV and radio presenters to dumb down the successes of Team GB – well, how utterly preposterous can you get? Why on earth shouldn’t we blow our own trumpet for once? Let’s stop the traditional British modesty lark and give ourselves a big pat on the back. We deserve it. This old sceptic for one has found the whole event thoroughly stimulating. I’ve even been motivated to break my own personal best – cutting the grass in one hour and 20 minutes. How inspired can you get?

PS. Did you hear the one about the 78 year old who complained to the BBC she wasn’t interested in sport and wanted her licence money back!