Friday, August 10, 2012


Team GB won seven of the ten gold medals available in the velodrome at this year's London Olympics. What an outstanding achievement! Well done the men's team sprint, Jason Kenny, Sir Chris Hoy, Vicky Pendleton, women's team pursuit and Laura Trott (Trotty). It is not all about winning. I spare a thought for Jess Varnish who will not be getting her gold for four years, but whose day will come. What an incredible indoor team. Add this to the great sporting success of Bradley Wiggins in the time trial and British cycling is truly on the map. And again spare a thought for Mark Cavendish, who, partly because of gamesmanship from the German and Australian teams, failed to get an expected gold in the road race.

My crest rose with pride to see these superb athletes raise the profile of British cycling. When my country succeeds in anything but waging war it makes me so happy I search diligently for the right superlative. As Sir Walter Scott wrote 'Breathes there a man with soul so dead, who never to himself hath said, this is my own, my native land'.

But patriotism can be taken to extreme, and when it comes to waging war Horace was so wrong in what Wilfred Owen referred to as that 'old lie'. It is not good and honourable to die for your country. It is foolish. Nobody should take any pride when their country wages war, especially when it is to steal oil. We should steep ourselves in shame. I know I do.

Governments should take a look at the spirit of the Olympic games and the way people of all nationalities embrace the competitiveness without wanting to kill one another or steal their possessions. Look at the way Mo Farah has excelled in talented events formerly the domain of those who possess the African long-distance running gene. Again it has made me proud to be British. Well done Mo!

There is something not quite right however when athletes are encouraged to mime to an eighteenth century dirge which contains the line 'send her victorious'. I would dearly love a new national anthem in the spirit of the Olympics the words of which embrace all cultures and nationalities. The cyclists did us proud as a nation. They competed at the highest level and got the highest results. They spoke with their legs and legged it with their spokes. They did not have to mouth to this patriotic nonsense, and they did not. That kind of business is more what you expect from the horse-people and Eton rowers. Our cyclists did not make an issue of not miming. But Piers Morgan did. Texting Bradley Wiggins he got one of the most classic rebuffs I have ever seen.

Piers Morgan, who as editor of the Daily Mirror did a fine job in opposing the Iraq war, and though he was unable to prevent this catastrophic blight on Britain's reputation for honesty and fair-play, at least he tried. So what happened to Piers over the years? Now he spends much of his life in the US, the country that got us into those disastrous and expensive wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and elsewhere. On twitter Morgan wrote:

'I was very disappointed @bradwiggins didn't sing the anthem either. Show some respect to our monarch please!'

Bradley Wiggins replied:

'@piersmorgan I was disappointed when you did not go to jail for insider dealing and phone-hacking, but you know, each to his own'. How classic! Brad Wiggins (Wiggo) I have no idea who could surpass you as sports personality of the year. You'll be getting my vote for sure.

1 comment:

  1. I've just learnt that the Brad Wiggins tweet was not true. Pity. It was so good.