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.