Best of British
Last weekend, I imagine like a lot of people I stayed up till 11.02 to watch Andy Murray win his nail biting match. Like the Duchess of Cambridge a few days later each point was a whole array of enhanced emotions. Before each of his serves I offered a small silent prayer for him to serve an ace. This of course would have cut the game very short and the pleasure of millions of viewers would have been seriously reduced. For me however I would not have held my breath so long, my blood pressure would not have risen and my stomach would not have felt the power of every stroke.
As a nation we watch a lot of sport and we often cheer our team on hoping for victory only to be bitterly disappointed and angry when the sports men and women do not deliver our dream.
Roy Hodgson took on a near impossible task accepting the management of an England football squad weeks before the most important tournament they will play this year. We wanted him to train the team to perfection and bring home a European cup in a fraction of a moment. To be fair I think we got further in the tournament than many people expected, but one small victory taking us through the qualifying stages got the whole country “what if –ing”.
We may not be the best at everything we enter but we do put up the teams and take the challenge to our hearts. Each year we attempt to take part in the Eurovision Song Contest knowing that despite all the rules and suggestions of un-bias, Boznia and Herzegovina will vote for Azerbaijan, Spain will vote for Portugal and Finland will always vote for Sweden, Iceland and Denmark. We take part, the people of this country get behind our act and buy the record, download it and tune in to watch or listen on the night; cheering each time we get a point.
No one can challenge our determination, dedication or discipline when it comes to training, but sometimes maybe we just lack that killer instinct. We are very dismissive of the German single-mindedness in their bid to beat us at everything. Even if we were quietly albeit mistakenly confident at beating Italy in the football; we knew the next battle looming would be our old adversary Germany, in a hard fought battle that offered a place in the final as a by-product of winning the match. Winning is as much a part of the inner psyche of the mind as it is tip-top conditioning and training. Our upper crust gentlemanly British character is not what winners are made of.
Maybe 2012 is our year. We have all pulled together to give our monarch a celebration to remember. All over this country and the Commonwealth street parties brought communities together in joyous festive mood in spite of the weather declining to play fair. We do pomp and ceremony better than anyone else in the world, drawing on the experience of hundreds of years’ worth of historical celebrations.
We have the Olympics about to kick off in less than 3 weeks, with the torch having been carried round the whole of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. 95% of the population have been no further than 10 miles from the path of the torch which is an incredible feat in itself. Many thousands of people have thronged the way to lend voice to the journey. We are about to welcome the whole world into our tiny island to produce a competition of the finest athletes and sports people this island has ever seen. Team GB members have been training, competing and preparing for these two weeks over the last four years, in order to be at their most fittest, most fastest and most focused.
Britain can be great and win major tournaments. We have won the Rugby World cup in recent years leading to a fabulous interest and take up of the sport. The England cricket team ping pong with success then failure as the country follows play. We can claim two world champion formula 1 drivers in two consecutive years who may not play as a country team but I suspect nobody is concerned whether the championship is won by Ferrari, Maclaren, Williams or Lotus as long as one of our guys come in first and hopefully second. Young Tom Daly took another European title on his 18th birthday and hopefully will give us even more in the coming weeks. So out there we do have the competitors ready to fly the flag for us all here.
This week in particular we have had a roller coaster ride of emotions at Wimbledon; who can forget the wonderful picture of Heather Watson as she got through to the third round. The sheer joy in her face was enough for the whole country to erupt with joy.
Today as I write I must give the Tour de France boys a mention. It is a fine line we tread in this house when it comes to watching TV in the evenings. Both the cycling and tennis highlights are on, with Sexy Sporty Dad watching and even understanding the complex scoring system of the peloton and sprinting riders. Our very own Mark Cavendish has done incredibly well winning the green jersey one day then spectacularly crashing out the next. Thankfully he was not badly injured and was back on his bike shortly after; although his rival completed the sprint finish that day to win back the jersey. His team mate our own Bradley Wiggins has the end of the race firmly in his sites finishing last night in the lead much to the joy in our household.
I joined in having just watched the most wonderful tennis match which saw the young British wild card entry of Jonathan Marray and his partner Friederik Nielson not only take on the might of the mens’ doubles final but to win the trophy. A magical journey had just ended with the most fairytale ending possible. If you wrote this in a book it would be slated as unrealistic and imaginary.
I do realise that as you read this you already know the result of the Federer / Murray battle for the Wimbledon 2012 championship whilst I am waiting for the start of the match. There is so much hype with Andy Murray holding the weight of millions of people’s expectations on his young shoulders. Whatever the outcome of the match, Andy Murray is a winner who hopefully will motivate youngsters all over the country to get out and enjoy the game. Even if they do not aspire to Wimbledon champion, just to get them out in the fresh air running around and enjoying themselves thanks to the inspiration he gives them is a winning result. And to the Sky team of Wiggins and Cavendish who instigate a passion in the children for bike riding and racing.
So to the Brits at Silverstone this weekend; make us proud, to the Tour de France cyclists; bonne chance, and to Andy Murray – go Andy go!
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