How can I not resist this?

In fact instead of that boring long distance running film, I don’t know why they aren’t playing this one for the Olympic winners.

Cracking voice from Tony Hadley, and one of the few bands I saw – in Bradford, St George’s Hall. Just wow. Spectacular performance by British New Wave band Spandau Ballet (1983), and a spectacular performance so far by Team GB.

So – gold.

Well, what the hell is the UK doing third (standing so tall, according to SB words, and you’re indestructible) ?

China and America have most of the Olympic medals. Used to be Russia and America.

Either way, the UK was nowhere really. But third, seriously?

When was the UK ever third in the table behind big powers with money and people?

Because really we might as well discount the big hitters. Not in terms of individual sporting achievement but basically the poor pobres can’t compete.

[Although after a quick look at tables, it seems we were fourth in Beijing, behind – China, Russia, America – that’s what comes of not having a television. I had no idea we put in a good performance four years ago.]

Bit of history.

Britain has competed in all the games since they started back in 1896. One of 14 teams in the first games in Athens in 1896. [wiki]

In fact we are the only team to have won a gold at every single summer games. And there was me thinking we were useless at this sport thing.

What are we good at?

Top sports – historically – are:


I’ve taken the ones where we’ve got gold in double figures. Also, remember, this is over 100 years.

Sir Chris Hoy is the most successful cyclist in Olympic history with his tally of six golds (go Chris!!) and Ben Ainslie is the most successful Olympic sailor (four golds and a silver).

What about overall medals totals over the Olympics since 1896? Surprisingly (to me), Britain is up there too. Only four countries have won more than 200 gold medals. OK, so we are in fourth place on this one, but still not bad with 207 golds.

Next up is Germany – 247, then Russia ie the Soviet Union (USSR) with 395, but look at America – a whopping 929 golds. There’s no competing with that.

What about that new upstart China? A mere 163 golds. France and Italy can both manage 191. And Hungary comes close with 159.

Back to team GB. Who can represent GB? Well, anyone from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Plus Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey. And, yes, those little overseas territories can join in too. With the exception of Caymans, British Virgins and Bermuda (for some bizarre reason) as they have their own set-up.

Northern Ireland people, according to wiki, can elect for either Ireland or GB. Apparently the NI government has objected to the name Team GB as it excludes NI. They want it to be renamed Team UK. I think that is a totally valid point and I would support that claim.

Great Britain (for non-British readers and those who don’t know) is England, Scotland and Wales. The United Kingdom includes Northern Island. The British Isles is a geographical term that describes the islands. So that’s clear isn’t it? [I learned that one at school and have never forgotten it.]

Just for additional clarity, our passports say, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Mine happens to say Gibraltar underneath that.

The UK (rather than GB) has hosted the games three times. London is the only city to have held the Olympics three times, first in 1908, then in 1948, and now this year.

We were the fourth city to hold the games in 1908 after Athens, Paris and St Louis.
Paris (1900 and 1924), Los Angeles (1932 and 1984), and Athens (1896 and 2004) are the only other cities to have hosted Olympics more than once.

Our best performance ever was in 1908 (in London) when we collected 56 golds, 51 silver and 39 bronze. Wow! And we think we are doing well now. Following that we entered into an ever-declining spiral, with a mere three golds when we hosted the Olympics again in 1948.

Our worst years were St Louis (1904), Helsinki (1952), and Atlanta (1996) where we only achieved one gold. The haul from the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s was between three and five. I guess that’s where my view of British lack of success comes from.

But come the millennium and we jumped up a gear. On our bikes of course.

In Sydney (2000) 11 golds, dropped down to nine in Athens, but up to 19 in Beijing.

This is not the UK Olympic team I grew up with where gold medals were so few and far between. This is totally different. Someone, somewhere, has decided to invest in sport.

And it is amazingly technical too – here is a BBC article about performance analysis.

One of the Spaniards at work asked my partner why some of the British athletes winning gold didn’t sing the national anthem.

‘Well, that’s because it is an English anthem and we aren’t all English.’ Remember, my partner is Welsh. I asked him what he would want sung. ‘Land of my fathers,’ he said in his best South Wales accent.

I thought Scotland would have wanted Scotland the Brave, but it seems the Flower of Scotland is more popular. I couldn’t find anything for NI – either way, seems the Welsh have cornered the market on alternative anthems with a clear vote for Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau.

(How wonderful and emotive is that as an anthem?)

Which brings me onto Team Yorkshire. There has been much made of the fact that many of the successful British athletes at the Olympics come from Yorkshire.

Here’s a quote from the Globe and Mail, Canadian apparently.

So how good is Britain feeling about its team in the Olympics? So good the media has taken to reporting how many medals Yorkshire athletes alone have won. And they have done pretty well.
If it was a country, Yorkshire would rank close to top of the medal standings and far ahead of Canada, at least in terms of gold medals.

So far, the white rose county, famous for terriers, pudding and the Bronte sisters, has won five gold, two silver and three bronze. That’s more gold medals than Canada, which has one; Australia, four; Japan, two; South Africa, three; and Poland, two. In fact, on gold medals alone Yorkshire would rank 11th at the Games.
Overall, Yorkshire’s 11 medals puts it 13th among all nations at the Olympics, only slightly behind Canada, which has 13, and ahead of Hungary which has 10.
Yorkshire has won almost one-quarter of Britain’s 48 medals thanks to stars such as heptathlete Jessica Ennis, who won gold, and the Brownlee brothers Alistair and Jonathan, who took gold and bronze in the triathlon.

Alistair noted that that Yorkshire is the largest county in Britain and so it is only natural that it would lead the way.
But he said the county is blessed with strong sports programs.
“There’s a massive sporting heritage in Yorkshire that we use, great swiming clubs, lots and lots of cycling,” he said Tuesday after the triathlon. “Just loads of sports. It’s a fantastic place to be an athlete and do sports. I think it must be that.”

Now, much as I would like to claim as much glory as possible for my home county, I do not think it is fair to claim that people born outside Yorkshire eg Kat Copeland and Tom Clancy, are winning gold medals for Yorkshire. Yet more boring inaccurate journalism.

Tha needs to be born there to come from there. Or something like that.

But, on the subject of anthems, the thought of “On Ilkla Moor baht ‘at” being blasted out all over the Olympic stadium is superb. [Note to non Brits (and Brits) Yorkshire post to follow about general Yorkshire eccentricities]

So a reasonable solution for the anthems to me would be one, the national one, followed by a local/regional one if people so chose.

In fact I watched an English gold medal winner the other day who didn’t sing either. I’m not surpised. What an emotional moment. Representing your country, winning a gold medal, can you imagine being able to sing without turning into a deluge of tears? i couldn’t do it.

So to Team GB incl NI, well done. Doubt you will beat the 56 golds of 1908, but you have done spectacularly well so far. And in two of my favourite sports, cycling and watersports, you have been superb. Seven out of ten track cycling golds is brilliant.

Some other links about the cycling and Britain’s domination of the track. If I was into conspiracy theory I might question why we seemed to accumulate faults. It’s hardly as though we needed to cheat is it?

How about this quote from the second BBC link (below) regarding Beijing?

The sport’s international governing body had not enjoyed the sight of one nation riding off with all the accolades last time, so scrapped the individual pursuit. In 2008, Britain won gold and bronze in the men’s and gold and silver in the women’s.

What’s going to get scrapped the next time so we can’t take the medals? The keirin? The omnium? They’ve only just been introduced.

With which I shall congratulate 20-year-old Laura Trott for her superb performance in the omnium and her two gold medals. Wishing her all the best for a brilliant cycling future.


About roughseasinthemed

I write about my life as an English person living in Spain and Gibraltar, on Roughseas, subjects range from politics and current developments in Gib to book reviews, cooking and getting on with life. My views and thoughts on a variety of topics - depending on my mood of the day - can be found over on Clouds. A few pix are over on Everypic - although it is not a photoblog. And of course my dog had his own blog, but most of you knew that anyway. Pippadogblog etc
This entry was posted in cycling, news, thoughts and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to Gold!

  1. A really good post – I love all of those pointless facts! I did spot Andy Murray starting to sing along to the National Anthem and then he suddenly stopped – I bet he thought ‘Oh No – I hope Alex Salmond isn’t watching!’ But then again, he wouldn’t be would he. There is a story that in 1966 rather than watch the World Cup Final Denis Law (famous Scottish footballer) went out to play golf rather than watch. When he finished, enquired the result and was told the score the only thing he could say was ‘ “Bastards!”.


  2. Thanks. But they are not pointless!! Not even the fact I saw Spandau Ballet in Bradford 😉

    I wanted to do a post about how well we were doing and how amazing the cycling team was, and couldn’t resist getting sucked into the history. haha! Plus I think the nationality aspect is interesting. Seriously if that was me, there was no way I could sing, whether it was Ilkla Moor or the national anthem, so I can see why others don’t.

    I remember Denis Law. Man U wasn’t he? In the glory days. Good story. Anecdotal or true? Who knows.

    Still Team GB and NI has put on a cracking performance as hosts even if they have fluffed a few. And it takes the plebs minds off the odd economic/political problem.


  3. free penny press says:

    Wow..this is a great recap.. I have been watching a bit this year (it airs very late on US TV) and must admit I am very proud of the UK’s medal wins this time. I especially was thrilled to see the young lady win the Decathalon (sorry, forgot her name). how awesome is she!! Overall, I think it’s time for the UK to stand tall!!!
    well done here!


    • Thanks. While there has been a lot of hype about the Olympics, when it comes down to the performances, I think it is especially interesting for us Brits with it being on home territory. I’m sure you can understand my comments about the two horse race between USA and China (and the previous ones between USA and USSR) so for us to be third is like winning, if that makes any sense 😀 The USA tally of more than 900 is just amazing. In fact, a USA analysis would have been quite interesting. Maybe for later when the games are over. Jessica Ennis – heptathlon. She’s one of the ones from Yorkshire, Sheffield specifically and will be met on her return home with a civic reception by the city. I didn’t mention Scotland but Sir Chris Hoy and Andy Murray, for example, turned in brilliant performances


  4. Vicky says:

    Great post!!!!!!
    I’ve been totally sucked into the games. Whether its because I’m now time rich, or because it’s held in Britain, who knows.
    Hopefully it will bring some national pride, to a nation sadly lacking in it.
    As for Yorkshire 🙂 🙂 say no more 😉


    • Thanks V 🙂 With the exception of swimming ( I can’t resist watching it – I just transpose myself into the pool) I would prob only watch the events with Brit strong contenders in. Mind you, the few things I have watched live, we’ve not won, so I’ve stopped jinxing the team 😀 I don’t know why British people are so lacking in national pride. Spaniards have national flags flying whenever there is a football comp and Gib is still awash with UK and Gib flags that were put up since later May for the June jubilee. I’m seriously thinking about asking our freeholder for permission to put up a couple (we can’t hang anything out of the front of the building eg washing but as he has a load of flags and a dirty great big banner of the queen, he may be a bit flexible on this one).


  5. Vicky says:

    I’ve never understood, who what and where regarding National Anthems.

    As the words God Save The Queen, relates to England, Scotland, Wales and NI. I always thought that means that if we are classed as a whole (UK) we use that one.

    But as Wales and Scotland, also have their own anthems, if they are in any competion in their own right they use their own (rugby being a typical example). England, not having an official anthem, usually use Land of Hope and Glory.

    I personally like Jerusalem


    • I like those two as well and always thought they would have been a more fitting choice. God save the Queen always seems to be about one person and not about a nation whereas the other two are exactly that. And if/when Charles became King….. I doubt I would want to sing along to that 😦 In fact I think on the death of the queen it should be changed 🙂 LoHaG first choice I think just because it is optimistic. Of course something by Bradford born Delius would be a strong contender too 🙂


  6. Perpetua says:

    Great post, Rough Seas, full of odd and fascinating facts Even across here in Normandy without TV, I’ve still managed to get sucked into following on the BBC website and am genuinely proud of what our athletes are achieving as well as full of admiration for the skill and hard work every last one of the participants has put into getting there.


    • Thanks Perp. We are TV less too, so my catching up tends to be a quick look in the morning about what happened the day before (quick check on the gold tally) and then a look to see what is happening during the day. I made the mistake of watching the Murray/Robson final and was gutted they didn’t win 😦 I do think it is good that we have finally invested in sport – it seems money can buy anything. That’s not to denigrate any achievements, they are all brilliant, but when we won a handful of medals in the past, it was in spite of, rather than because of receiving some justified support. I did read about one of the athletes who was so looking forward to quitting (maybe Pendleton?) and just chilling out and doing normal lazy things in life. So they get their few minutes of glory – but at a price.


  7. Love this post – so interesting! We have been so happy for the UK/GB/NI medalists: after all they are the hosts.
    Actually here, we are tired of the medal counts – more interested in individual athletes / teams – they work all their lives to get to this point. (We always know the Brits and Aussie are the ones to beat in sailing)
    Some with more support than others by their governments ( US athletes, like many, do not get money from the gov. Most work at part time jobs at Walmart, HomeDepot and such.)
    Coverage of the game is horrid here. Too focused on a few US “celebrity” athletes or ones with “interesting” stories the network has decided to tell.
    Seems like every time we turn on Olympics, it’s always volleyball…sick sick sick of it. (It seems like a leisure sport anyway….but maybe the Greeks thought that about discus throwing, too?)
    Have enjoyed what swimming and diving events that has been on, too!


    • Thanks. Like any post, you start off just checking a few details and then it creates a life of its own 😀
      Must be great to be an athlete and win in your home country. Can’t see London being able to host it again for say – at least 50 years? ie not in my lifetime!
      I didn’t realise US athletes didn’t get money, I imagined a huge pot of money being thrown at your stars. Apparently the British ones vary, the more chance they have of winning, they more investment they receive. I think I read that cycling and rowing (?) received some £25M each. But some sports have to fund themselves.
      Not seen any volleyball, but I don’t tend to look until after the event. Yesterday was an exception as I watched the men’s relay, the swimming in the Serpentine (your woman took a great silver), and rhythmic gymnastics – which is surreal. So pleased for Nicola Adams winning the very first boxinig medal too 🙂


      • London is already trying to get in the race for another Olympics!
        Yeah, the athletes here live off their parents, work part-time with places that will let them work around training hours, and have to beg for money. Once they are selected for the team, they get training and coaches, but they have to eat and live somehow. They are given team clothing ( and are warned about not wearing brands that aren’t sponsors) On top of that, our federal gov. taxes them on the gold, silver, bronze metals – and on any prize money associated with that (I think the gold medal is taxed over $7,000) One of our legislators is trying to get a bill passed so they won’t have to pay taxes on their Olympic medals. We are always surprised our athletes do so well with so little support.
        Only the basketball team players have any money – and I don’t understand how those guys who are professionals are even allowed to play in the Olympics.
        I really enjoyed the music in your post – never thought about that- it makes sense!


        • We had a poor day today 😦 Loads of chances for some serious medals, and even the sailing only got us silver. Days go like that hey?
          But if London is bidding for another showing, go for it! First to three host games, and first to four? Definite golds there.
          I don’t know enough about UK sponsorship but I did read about the rhythmic gymnastic team funding themselves (ie their parents funding it). I think taxing medals is rather unfair to say the least.
          I’m still stunned. I always thought Russia (USSR) put big roubles at the Olympics, and just assumed rich America did the same. Your achievements are all the more worthy in that case.
          I do think they should have played Gold! a few times. It was a British band, popular in the early 80s, and there is too so much pop music being blasted out in teh stadiums/arenas/wherever that it would hardly have been inappropriate. Chariots of Fire is a bit sort of old hat IMO. I only went to see Spandau Ballet because a colleague in the office loved them to bits and insisted we all went. Well worth it.


  8. EllaDee says:

    Gold for you – great post of history, trivia and statistics – you make an art of it 🙂 I can’t bear to think about the Olympics. The Australia media babble on about the controversy and gossip… Leisel Jones is fat & old don’t you know… Stephanie Rice and Kobe Bryant, Quade Cooper, Eamon Sullivan and Michael Phelps… Emily Seebohm spends too much time on social media… Not to mention my M.I.L. on the weekend going on and on and on about how the government’s spending all that money on the boat people and we can’t win gold medals…


    • Haha, thanks for the gold. As said above, to Phil, I started off by looking up one thing – when London previously hosted it and wondered how we had done for medals – and then the facts helpfully wrote the post for me. Everyone spends too much time on social media 😦 I check out the BBC website and can’t get away from Twitter updates on there 😦 Whatever happened to the boring old days of straightforward news reporting? In fact the only gossip I have picked up is Laura Trott (double gold cycling) is seeing Jason Kenny (another Olympic cyclist, ie gong out with him – can’t bear that ghastly dating word, sounds so American and 1950s).

      You won a gold today in what sounded like a pretty good race in the sailing knocking us into silver. As did the Kiwis in the women’s. We had a chance of two golds there and fluffed both 😦 In fact I think you are meant to have done pretty well now in the sailing. I couldn’t bear to watch, everything I watch we lose!


  9. bluonthemove says:

    I remember in the 70s and 80s Russia and other Eastern Block countries (particularly East Germany) used to always do well in the olympics as they effectively had professional athletes as they were all employed by the military but spent all their time training. At the same time I was under the impression that many in the USA team had college sport scholarships, but I maybe wrong.

    Part of the UK success has to be down to the last labour government’s investments in sport in schools, alongside the increases in sponsorship money available to individual UK athletes and the decline of the Eastern Block countries.


    • I think you are right about the eastern bloc, that is my over-riding memory of that period.

      I also thought America was well-funded so interesting to read (on roughseas via PhilMOTH) that they were/are not.

      Interesting to note that the labour govt invested in sport in schools and DC is reaping the benefit. Politicians huh?


  10. bluonthemove says:

    I can be one of the UK’s strongest critics, but I was really pleased that they played to their strengths tonight in the closing ceremony. Music, fashion, iconic british(ish) cars, humour and more music. Few countries can play their own music (I’m guessing the only other is the USA) and have all the athletes singing and dancing along, allowing them to really participate in the closing ceremony in a way that couldn’t happen in Beijing.

    There is an awful clip of Boris Johnson and David Cameron dancing along to the Spice Girls on the BBC, so maybe participation isn’t always all good. Disappointed by the Brazillian slot though, expected something more Carnivaaaaal.

    Final thought, the choice of John Lennon’s “Imagine” seemed somewhat strange in what is primarily a competition between nations.


    • The bikes and the cars were good. The fashion was ok but the billboard things with the women on were grossly sexist. I saw most of the ceremony just missing the first minutes, can’t remember what time I managed to hit on it. I thought Imagine was incredibly political (maybe not meant to be) it seemed to be saying we can all participate in these games and enjoy competition through sport so why not translate that into life? I guess that was the original purpose of the games, but I was a bit surprised. I don’t like Imagine anyway!

      In terms of 50 years of music not enough old stuff. Two chords of Bowie. Where was Sir Mick? How about Alex Hammond? ( a gesture to our BOTs ) Pink Floyd, Moody Blues, Sandy Shaw, Lulu, Tom Jones, (everyone must know the words to Delilah, or at least, my my my). Can’t believe I missed The Who, and Pet Shop Boys 😦 Never heard of Elbow. Pleased I missed Spice Girls though. (and BJ + DC)

      Eric Idle was seriously great 🙂 That was an inspired inclusion.

      Brazilian national anthem was pretty poor. I thought it was quite a nice foretaste of Rio, I’m sure the games will be very Carnivaaaaal when they host it.

      For what I saw overall, I thought it was good, but not brill. Say seven or eight out of ten?


  11. bluonthemove says:

    Update, and just for Roughseas 🙂

    Tony Hadley singing “Gold” for the athletes at the Team GB party.


  12. bluonthemove says:

    Bugger, it put it as a link, I’ll try again.

    Update, and just for Roughseas 🙂



    Tony Hadley singing “Gold” for the athletes at the Team GB party.

    Hope this won’t appear as a link, so will post properly.


  13. bluonthemove says:

    Tony Hadley wasn’t part of the closing ceremony, he was recorded at the Team GB after party I think it was. Pink Floyd was sort of there, they had a young guy sing one of their songs accompanied by one of the original line up on guitar and Nick Mason on drums.


    • I think it said it was the before party! either way it was still good and I don’t know why he wasn’t part of the official stuff. I got sent the PF link by another oldish person who likes them 😉 I did wonder what a trio would have been made if they could have had Annie Lennox, Cerys Matthews and the late Amy. Couldn’t think of a NI singer 😦 but three seriously class voices there, in my opinion.


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