04 August 2012

I got it wrong

Well, well. well.  For an old curmudgeon who dismissed the Games as circenses for the masses, I have to admit I'm thoroughly enjoying them now the moment has arrived.

My favourites have been the rowing and the cycling.  And not just because of the success of the Brits.

Alas the BBC has let us down in the commentarial standards.  It is intolerable to have to put up with the simpering of Sue Barker, the illiterate screaming of Jonathan Pearce, the snarkiness of Gary Lineker, the know-it-all attitude of Brendan Foster.  Thank heavens for Clare Balding (the damehood can't come quickly enough), the sheer niceness of Jill Douglas and the common sense of Boardman.

But what really impresses is the charm of the athletes in the lesser sports.  Ms Grainger of the rowing, Sir Chris Hoy of the cycling and the two girls who set the ball rolling with the first gold medal, Ms Glover and Ms Stanning.   People you could actually like as well as admire.  (How dissimilar to professional footballers.)

An illustration of what I mean, here is this well-deserved encomium from The Independent (here):
What a gentleman Bradley Wiggins is, really. Not everyone noticed his exemplary behaviour on winning the Olympic time trial. He was informed that he had the best time, but made no response, even though by then, the subsequent riders could not match his time, indeed had already exceeded it. He only raised his hands in celebration when the last rider had crossed the line.
This beautiful behaviour was interpreted by the BBC commentator, however, as Mr Wiggins not knowing that he had won, or not being able to believe it, or something. Nothing of the sort. As with the moment in the Tour de France when he slowed down, refusing to take advantage when his rivals suffered punctures from scattered tin-tacks, Mr Wiggins was just behaving with great respect and decency.
No one these days wants to be considered a gentleman. It hasn't seemed like much of an advantage for decades. But to behave consistently well, like Mr Wiggins, and to do the right thing without being ordered to is the best lesson the Olympics can give us. We're not going to ride as fast as him, but we can all endeavour to raise our manners to the status of ethical principles.


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