Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Olympian Effort


What’s all this then? Team GB winning a shed load of medals at the Olympic Games and finishing fourth in the medal table? Whatever next? What happened to the usual noble-in-defeat attitude and ‘I’m just pleased to be here’ platitudes? What has turned us into a nation of contenders? It could be the lottery money pumped into sports so that athletes can pay the bills whilst learning their trade or it could be the hiring of proper coaching and technical staff or it could even be the public school ethos of competition in sport (heaven forbid!) But I think it is more than that.

I reckon that the real reason for all this success is down to the weather! I’ve touched on this before in my previous Cricket post, but climate is so important to the Brits, after all, 50% of conversation in this country revolves around it. Without a bit of weather to contend with, we are nothing - look at the evidence. For once, a major sporting event has been held in a country where the climate suits the average Brit. We have won countless medals for sailing in atrocious conditions with howling winds and 2 metre swells – just like the Solent on an August Bank Holiday. The road cycling was conducted in stair-rodding rain, lethally slippery roads and less that brilliant visibility - ditto. Mercifully, the temperatures have been on the chilly side, the rain has fallen with not a swelteringly hot clear blue sky and lack-of-oxygen-due-to-altitude day in sight. Just how we like it.

I have always thought that the UK’s lack of sporting prowess has always been due to a lack of proper weather. Major sporting events are always held in countries where it is consistently hot, humid and windless. Where’s the fun in that? Where’s the challenge? Brits need to battle the elements more that they need to battle their opponents. It is why we are at heart an exploring, sea-faring nation.

Most of the UK’s premier sport, football, is played in freezing, rain-drenched conditions that are prevalent in our winter. If the Football World Cup was played at Scunthorpe on a miserably wet, muddy November day rather than a humid latin summer’s day when it’s 35C in the shade, we would win hands-down. I’d love to see the Brazilians play their silky skills game in those conditions.

So, an end to all boring hot, dry venues please. All international sporting events should now be held in countries where the weather is extreme and unpredictable. That would even up the chances a bit!

As a postscript, I note that some things never change. Post-event interviews with competitors from most of the major nations comprise a tediously well-rehearsed, almost robotic stream of PR speak. Brits on the other hand, waffle on about all sorts of things in a daze of ‘Gosh, have I really won something’ giddiness. Somehow, it is wonderfully reassuring that there’s a real person in there somewhere rather that a trained-to-the-point-of-oblivion android. You can’t have it both ways.

2 comments:

TR1-Guy said...

Well, it may be my American way of stating the bleeding obvious, but they are called the SUMMER games, and summer is, well, usualy hot and humid. Now, looking at a world map, you UK folks should get a bit of that I'd say! :) But I have to admit it seems to be more rainy than not. I'll have to Google that stat here soon...

Oh, as far as athletes being "trained" to give a standard speech after victory, I'm with you. Just once you'd like to see someone take a Gold and go "I can't freakin' believe I beat all of those people! I'M THE GREATEST!" Because, you know that's what they're thinking. I would! :)

musicobsessive said...

Hey TR1 Guy, you're right - they are summer games but your Illinois summers (mid-continental climate of cold winters and hot summers) are very different from ours in the UK. We have a coastal climate regulated by the Gulf Stream which despite our latitude, keeps us artificially warm in winter and artificially cool in summer, thus we have mild wet winters and , well, mild wet summers! Plus we get heaps of rain coming off the Atlantic. See - you've got me talking about the weather again!!:)

Anyway it still doesn't explain why world finals for winter games (football) are held in hot, dry countries...in the summer!

And yeah, I want to see more unrehearsed after event interviews and the more un-PC the better.