Saturday, August 20, 2016

On the breadth of team GB's success

It was pointed out last night that Team GB's 24 Gold Medals in Rio so far (that was the score at the time after the Ladies' Hockey win) have come in no fewer than fourteen different sports. as defined within the Olympics.

Six cycling Gold medals,
Three rowing
Two each Gymnastics, Equestrian and Sailing
One each in Athletics, Canoe, Diving, Golf, Hockey, Swimming, Taekwondo, Tennis, Triathlon.

That is a really extraordinary breadth of achievement and I am told that as of last night no other country had yet won gold medals in more than ten disciplines at Rio.

(Postscript 21/8/2016: after day 15 Britain had gold medals in fifteen categories, the USA in twelve,  China in ten, Russia in nine, Germany in nine and Japan in five categories. No other country had won more than ten Gold medals in total)

It is something which will make 99% of Britons very proud of the enormous effort put in by our athletes but of course you cannot please everyone.

This year's "Every century but this and every country but his own" award has to go to Simon Jenkins in the Guardian for complaining because Britain is celebrating Olympic success, which he calls "turning Soviet."

He specifically criticises the BBC coverage of the Rio Olympics, which he appears to think is letting down the principles of the Reith charter by openly being pleased when somebody from Britain does well.

If there is one national broadcaster in the world which has bent over so far backwards to avoid acting as a cheerleader for it's own government, and has if anything erred in the other direction, that they ought to be allowed to cheer on our own athletes in sporting events without being accused of being soviet style state propagandists, it is the BBC.

If Mr Jenkins wants to find a state propagandist to scrutinise I suggest he has a little look at the RT and Sputnik operations for Mr Putin which have a base in Edinburgh. I have my differences with the BBC but to compare them with Soviet-era Russian propagandists is just ridiculous.


Anonymous said...

What conclusion can be drawn from the Olympics - British athletes are world leaders in 'sitting down', as are the rest of the population by the obesity figures.

Chris Whiteside said...

Why do we have to draw any conclusions - it's a sporting competition for heaven's sake. But it's natural for anyone with a normal and healthy degree of patriotism to want to celebrate the successes of athletes from his or her country.

It's only a problem when you start wanting your own side to win so much that you cannot treat athletes from rival teams who have competed honestly and well with the respect that they deserve. I don't see any sign whatsoever of that kind of thing from the BBC or most other Britons - if there was, Jenkins would have a point.

You have a point about the rest of the population - and I'm not one to talk - but I don't think too many members of Team GB will be suffering from obesity any time soon.