I know a few people will be turned off by the subject, but for those that are living on another planet, the Olympics are in full swing.
The UK has an interesting recent history when it comes to the Olympics. Who can forget the golden days of middle distance running, when Seb Coe, Steve Ovett and Steve Cram would each win gold, only for their counterpart to win it in another event a day later. Sir Steve Redgrave dragged me out of bed in the early hours in 2000, just so I could watch him win his fifth gold medal. And yet, as a nation, we're really screwed up when it comes to supporting our sportsmen and women.
Yesterday saw us get our first gold, in women's cycling. This is truly a mean feat when you consider that the UK has no national team. The last time we had a team in the UK was in 1990, with Team Raleigh Banana. We have always had some mean cyclists, and it is at this point that the minister for sport, Gerry Sutcliffe, should be sitting up. After an eventful Tour de France, where the fastest cyclist in the world, the great Mark 'Cav' Cavendish took 4 stage wins, proving that without any help we can nurture world class. And yet, money is piled into the national sports of football, rugby and cricket, the mainstay of Sky Sports. As long as Sky have the coverage, and the money to pay for the coverage, the government's opinion of that sport will continue to be paramount. Meanwhile, the coverage of the tour was on ITV4, a channel a large chunk of the population cannot receive.
Back in 1996, in Atlanta, we came home with bugger all. Mr Redgrave had got us a gold, but that was about it. The then minister, Iain Sproat, decreed that we'd work harder to get more medals. And then did bugger all about it.
We need to sort out our priorities. This country needs to realise there is more sport then the three shown on our TVs day in, day out. The argument that it's popular doesn't wash, because it is force fed to us from day one. When was the last time a school encouraged a boy to take part in the "50m Rifle prone men" event, or helped set up a team of handball players.
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