|English: Mo Farah at the 2010 European Athletics Championships in Barcelona (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
The Games were fantastic though, the ceremonies breathtaking and tongue-in-cheek charming and our athletes responded to the home advantage by returning a glimmering haul of gold, silver and bronze. Some athletes ended their careers on a high note, while others thrust themselves into the public conciousness and made themselves into brand new household names.
The spirit of the games is the thing that has really impressed me, almost without exception the thousands of competitors behaved impeccably, happy and gracious when winning, stoic and accepting in defeat. Particularly impressive is the attitude of defeated Olympians, I have lost track of the amount of times I have heard sentiments like "I did my best, I gave my all, but on the day 'X' was just a better / faster / stronger athlete." Some athletes even openly admit to their own shortcomings, telling the world when they have made mistakes in events or used the wrong tactics.
This display of honesty and soul-baring, all consuming effort and absolute joy in winning anything is about to be eclipsed though, for while our sports media has been consumed the the Olympics for the past two weeks, the dark cloud of a new football season is about to cast its malignant shadow over us. Usher out the bright smiling, tearful young things, and usher in the cheats, the injury feigners, the divers, the 13 stone men who inexplicably fall over at the contact of shirt on shirt, the wavers of imaginary cards who wish to see their fellow athletes dismissed from the field of play, the managers who see every opposing infraction with the eyes of an eagle but who are blind to their own misdemeanors, the grown men who accept every decision against them with the foul petulance of a spoiled child.
Every year I view the approaching football season with decreasing enthusiasm, this year, following the brilliance of the last two weeks, I actually find it a little depressing. Is there any chance, just a glimmer of hope, that our footballers might have watched the Olympics and been similarly inspired ? That they might wish to emulate the behaviour in both glory and disappointment of the heroes of track, pool, court and velodrome ? I hope so, I really do. Football might be the most popular of all sports, and its bloated cash rich backers and media constantly tell us it is, but is is a sport desperately in need of a behavioural overhaul, a sport that could really benefit from an infusion of real glory and honest to goodness heroes.
And if that doesn't happen, it is only 16 days until the start of the Paralympics.
London 2012 Paralympics