of hammer and ‘ouse
Even though I desperately want to be European, I am British. However, as the Winter Olympics have clearly demonstrated to me, I have precious little patriotic spirit and even less national pride. The highlight of the last couple of weeks was undoubtedly Elise Christie crashing-out with nothing to show for her lifetime’s ‘sacrifice’ (and immediately committing to do the same for another four years until Beijing 2022 (go girl and that’s sooo British!)), quickly followed by the plucky Japanese curling underdogs who consigned po-faced Eve Muirhead to sport an even longer-face than the one she wore for the eleven day-duration of her tournament. It’s called ‘a game’ for good reason, Eve, and sure beats working!
Having said that, I did feel a rare swelling of the chest during Team GB’s skeleton success, and there’s no denying that when it comes to scooting head-first down an ice-track on an improvised sliver of metal we are a match for anyone. Notwithstanding the six-and-a-half million pounds investment over the last four years, the skeleton provided the majority of our medals and it was great to see Lizzy Yarnold enjoying a back-to-back victory, and doing so…wait for it, whilst competing with a cold! Hard-core or what. Mind, her celebrations did remind me of a yummy-mummy enjoying her victory in the egg-and-spoon race of her daughter’s prep school sports day and all this without a mention that her own competition tea-tray was actually a 1904 Edwardian silver-gilt example acquired from Phillip Serrell’s Antiques Emporium during an early episode of Bargain Hunt.
The other thing I couldn’t quite get my head around was the overly jingoistic manner of the BBC’s coverage. As has become the case with all grand PR choreographed and glossily portrayed sporting charades, the event has been conveyed as a matter of vital national importance and represented, not that we’re a tiny island with neither the climate nor facilities for winter sports, but a blatant indication of our true standing on the international stage. Forget any post-Brexit success, our world-recognition and status will be determined by our superbly mediocre nineteenth place in the medal table. Clare Balding you have a great deal to answer for. Our medal-hunting-at-all-cost nature, brought into question by the likes of the Sky-sponsored British Cycling, appears to have continued and even Team GB have admitted that their revolutionary aerodynamic skinsuits ‘remain within the confines of the sport’s rules, it’s just that the rulebook leaves a fair bit of room for interpretation’. Whatever.
Attention must also surely be drawn to the fact that, whilst £6m was devoted to the largely underperforming ‘sport’ of bobsleigh, schools throughout the UK struggle to provide basic PE, and basketball, played by a huge number of young urban participants the nation over, gets nothing, zilch, nada. The obscene £30m spend for five medals within a handful of niche sports highlights nothing more than the influence of the privileged elite for a sporting elite. Mind, the ultimate irony is that as I gaze lovingly through my cell-window, believe it or not, it’s actually snowing and we don’t even need the fake stuff they had to use in South Korea!