In closing

 

This is really late; it should have been posted last Monday! But with a mission of a week, I’ve only just had a chance to do it. Please ignore the fact it’s almost completely irrelevant now the Games are well over, ta. :-)

Well it’s all over.

And what a Games it was. Mo Farah’s double, Usain Bolt’s treble – the two swapping poses on Saturday night – Jess Ennis, Chris Hoy, Bradley Wiggins, the equestrian haul, the first Saudi women allowed to compete… and more. The Torch relay, the volunteers, the police and organisers – everyone involved was friendly and cheerful and contributing to the magnificent atmosphere.

On the train on the way back from the dressage on Thursday, I was reading a Telegraph article by David Robson on the Olympics as a whole. It was comparing the mood of the country to that felt during the 1966 World Cup. It’s not just the home success, by a long shot, but the way that, despite the economic problems, the whole country got behind the Games. It’s been something everyone here will remember for ever.

The motto of the Games was “inspire a generation” and now, everyone is talking about the legacy of London 2012.

The week before last, at work, I got a phone call from a reader. We’d printed a story about end-of-year prizes at one of the secondary schools and the reporter thought, and I agreed, that it would be a nice boost for the winning kids to see their names in print. Everyone’s a winner, we thought.

But this woman, with an angry bloke in the background egging her on, was chewing my ear off for the piece, and the fact the headline writers had used the headteacher’s quote about the “brightest and best”. What damage were we doing to the others’ egos, the woman asked aggressively. By printing the winners’ names and using that quote, we were “making the others look thick”. Not making any assumptions about whether or not she had a child at the school and whether or not he’d won a prize, I pretended not to understand her point and eventually, she slammed the phone down on me.

This just goes to show what needs to change if this Olympic success is to be repeated. Everyone’s heard of this ridiculous “don’t have winners and losers”approach, as naming losers is supposedly bad for children. But if we carried on like that, there’d be no Olympic medals, no football leagues – no anything. Also, if children never fail or achieve in school sports, they’ll never be able to cope when success doesn’t come easily in real life.

The other thing about inspiration is that these athletes should be kids’ role models in future. Gymnast Beth Tweddle, for example, who won bronze on the uneven bars. At 27, she’s old for her sport. She’s had more operations than I’ve had hot dinners, including knee surgery in May and sleeping with an ice machine on it since, she’s eaten, slept and lived her sport for years – and she was rewarded with a medal that meant everything to her.

I think the “everything for nothing” culture, as demonstrated by so many of the “celebrities” we see at the moment, the widespread dependence on benefits, the “X Factor effect”, has a lot to answer for…

But if young people can be inspired by Tom Daley, who got straight As in his A levels this year as well, and Jess Ennis rather than those that are celebrities because they’ve been on Big Brother and slept with famous people, if they can aspire to be those who work hard for success rather than expecting it to fall into their laps, if they value true achievement over momentary fame…

Then that’s what the Olympics is all about.

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20 Responses to In closing

  1. Jess says:

    To borrow an American phrase, can we get a ‘Hell, yes!’

    I absolutely abhor this pathetic ‘oh, everyone’s a winner’ attitude. Newsflash: some people are better than others at sport, academics, life, whatever. It’s absolutely ludicrous to spare the feelings of those who don’t come out on top – where’s the incentive to improve if we do that? I was absolutely shite (pardon my French) at sport at school, I was made fun of, humiliated, picked on (and picked last) but would I ever suggest that the winners should not have received the level of adulation that they did, that I should have been congratulated for being mediocre? NO! Sorry, but sucking at something is called life. You work your arse off to improve at it, just like the Olympians do. People like that officious woman need to get over themselves and realise that sorry, but there are winners and losers at everything. And she needs to either put up or shut up: learn to live with being a loser, or bloody well do something to improve.

    Oh dear, can you tell this is one of ‘those’ issues for me? Thank you for bringing it up though: I hope those kids did get their names published!

    xxx

    • They did, in the end; I refuse to play any part in that way of thinking! I wish there was a “like” button for blog comments, as I’d have clicked it a good few times for this one because I completely agree and have ranted on the same lines many times.
      The key is what you say about either accepting you’re no good at something, we’re all rubbish at some things, and keeping quiet about it or going out and DOING something about it… aaarghhh! xx

  2. Jess says:

    Hmm, not sure where the first comment went, but can I add a ‘P.S’? Can you imagine this sort of stupidity in any other country? I can just imagine the US doing that…NOT; they’d probably print the kids who came last under the tagline ‘loser’ – that’s the Gold medal mentality (if a little cruel, lol) :P

  3. Crickey, I bet you had to keep your cool during that call. Its a difficult area to navigate – I think there’s a fine line between giving the right kids the praise they deserve and leaving others out or having a sense of ‘elitism’. With me working with Charities and young people its a complex issue because no one wants to dampen what young people achieve, however some young people just aren’t drawn to sports – this is where I think its key that every single young person is encouraged to explore their talents perhaps in other areas such as the arts. The underlying message, as you say, should be that hard work = achievements in what ever area you are looking to excel in. It is such a good job that young people do have a few more positive role models now!

    • I agree with you and one of the great things about these particular school awards was that they weren’t just for academic or sporting achievement but effort and improvement so it was really rewarding those that tried hard, I think that’s so good for kids to know – and yes, it was hard to keep cool but we get a lot of practice in that :-)

  4. I even find more inspiration from those athletes that are competing for the first time for their country and have no chance of winning. That is the truest form of the Olympic spirit ever. Great post!

  5. runningcupcake says:

    What I find interesting is that I was in Whistler the other day talking to some Canadian ladies about when Vancouver hosted the winter Olympics, and she said the same, that before the Olympics came it was all negative, people fussing about the cost and the traffic etc etc, but once they arrived the whole nation got behind it and supported every athlete and just loved it :) I am glad the same thing happened in England. When I went to see the marathon it was fab to see all the runners being cheered on, not just the GB ones (although they got bigger cheers!)- the whole atmosphere was fab :) I just hope it carries on for the paralympics too.

    • That’s interesting; I wouldn’t have thought it’d be the same there…. I suppose when you live wherever it is, you hear all the negativity beforehand – and maybe some people get sick of hearing about it – but when the Games actually come, all that’s forgotten…
      I bet the marathon was fab and it was the same for the dressage; every rider who did well got cheered, wherever they were from.
      Looking forward to the Paralympics too :-)

  6. cottercrunch says:

    oh tom daley, what a cutie. I loved seeing london light up during the olympics. What a summer! Just wish i could of been there to really experience it all!

  7. I have loved the atmosphere that the Olympics have bought to the country, it’s to have that sense of union in our country for once.

  8. Dannii says:

    I loved the Olympics. I was really not looking forward to it, and then I got sucked in and couldn’t stop watching.

  9. It is SO nice to see people that are on TV because they’ve DONE something with their lives, rather than just because they’re famous for being famous! The games were so inspiring!

  10. Brilliant. We AREN’T all winners, and I don’t understand why some parents think all kids should be. SO WHAT if you aren’t the best? Kids are learning they are precious balls of wonder, but you know what? You’re not. And I don’t mean that in a negative way. Why aren’t kids allowed to fail? You learn how to get back up, move forward, and realize just who you are and where your actual skills and talents lie.

    • That doesn’t sound negative, it’s exactly right. My mum used to say that as a teacher, she would never be disappointed by poor performance from someone who wasn’t bright but if a really intelligent child didn’t try, it really riled her and I agree. As you say, failing is part of learning and you’ll never get anywhere otherwise…

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