children have some role models that are not all about sex, pop music, or shopping.
It has also been refreshing to see fit women – fit in the proper sense. It makes a welcome change from the flaunting-their-curves, letting-themselves-go, instant-stardom and celebrity-status -via-a -cocktail-of-Fake-Bake-and-Heart-Break reality TV women.
Instead we see fine athletes, bodies that sweat, real smiles, total grimacing effort (the Silver Judo medal won by Gemma Gibbons with a broken finger). From Jessica Ennis’s brilliance to the warmth, wit and wisdom of Clare Balding the women's team has led the way at the London 2012 Olympics.
Yet, despite the wonderful achievements of Team GB's athletes, the current government is not making it any easier to encourage children to take part in sports. Producing an athlete of any level (like producing a young adult who contributes to society) takes effort, not just on the part of the athlete themselves, but of their family providing support in terms of time (a lot of it), encouragement (in spades) and money (how much depends on the sport). The wider community (schools, clubs, etc) also has a major role to play in providing facilities, teachers, and sponsorship. The Government (of every party persuasion) has constantly undermined these efforts, making it harder for those children who might have 'had a go' to step up and try. More school playing fields are being sold off in the teeth of a promise to do more for school sports.
The Olympics have show the World another face of Britain. Last year, the World witnessed images of the riots in London and other major cities. The looting that went on was by youths and adults who showed little impulse control - members of the 'me' generation who live their lives with no thought beyond their immediate wants. The looters and arsonists showed scant concern for the communities and the livelihoods they were destroying by their actions.
Contrast that with the efforts of those athletes who support others and help the winners on their way to medals. Stuart Hayes fought his way from back in the pack during the swim section to act as pace-maker for the Brownlee Brothers. Jonny Brownlee, tipped for a Silver medal, gained a 15 second penalty at the transition to bike. He held his position with herculean effort to finish in the Bronze medal position
Spent from his efforts on the bike, Hayes ended the run in 37th and later downplayed his selflessness. He said: “It’s not me, it’s the two Brownlees. I did my best to help them and it worked. Team tactics help but those guys are amazing.”
Half GB's athletes are privately educated and got their winning ethos from those schools where all don't actually win prizes, where competition as well as co-operation is seen as healthy, and only the best can win. This holds true for life, not just sport. So lets start with our schools and start churning out role models for all areas of life from our state system. We might see less of the bling-laden nothings who mope about on street corners and more Beth Tweddles who never give up.
"Don't let me hear you say life's taking you nowhere" ~ David Bowie