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Olympics are great, but I'm still not part of Team GB

A couple of blogs ago, before the Olympics, I wrote that I felt no emotional engagement with Team GB.  Give me Scots competing for Scotland anytime.

So how do I feel now after the very successful main London Games, on the eve of the Paralympics, and the accompanying tidal wave of Union Jacking?  Well, exactly the same.

Actually, I’m surprised Unionists are betting so much on a Team GB after-glow from the Games.  Are their political and economic cases that flimsy? A successful sporting event is not a cure-all.

I mean, the Beijing Games were a triumph but that didn’t excuse the Chinese government’s human rights abuses or its occupation of Tibet, did it? 

The London Games have been a magnificent achievement. Congratulations to everyone involved in their organisation, not least those amazing volunteers.

I must admit I didn’t think Londoners would embrace the Games and their visitors with such enthusiasm and joy. I lived there in the 1970s.  I didn’t like the place and was glad to leave. But you have to hand it to them.  Londoners have created one of the best atmospheres, if not the best, surrounding any Olympics.

I was abroad during the first week of the Games and missed the opening ceremony.  The highlights look spectacular and how inspired of Danny Boyle to give centre stage to the NHS – one of the UK’s greatest achievements.

I returned home in time to see the flood of medals won by Team GB.  It was great to see Scots contribute 13 to the haul.  Even so, I still felt that twinge of regret that the great efforts of Hoy, Jamieson and all the rest didn’t lead to a Scottish flag and a Scottish anthem at the presentation ceremonies.  Sorry, Team GB – that flag, that dirge, the history behind them: they leave me cold.

So does that make me a miserable, anti-UK sporting curmudgeon?

Not in the least. Since we know so much about Team GB members from the media’s saturation coverage, it was easy to identify with them. Take Leeds's delightful Nicola Adams.   I cheered myself hoarse through her bouts to a boxing gold medal.  And what more can you say about Mo Farah? What a personal triumph and what a celebration of multiculturalism in the UK.

The surprise of the Games for me was Taekwondo.  I saw a bout by accident, was hooked and became an ardent supporter of Yorkshire’s Sarah Stevenson, Wales’s Jade Jones, and Londoner Lutalo Mohammad.  

But there were other great moments without British involvement. Leaving aside the obvious Bolt phenomenon, the pick for me was the titanic struggle in the men’s marathon between two Kenyans and a Ugandan.  I turned the telly on for a quick progress check – and was still sat there, enthralled, two hours later.           

However, the success of the London Games doesn’t change much for Scots in the non-sporting world.  While I was abroad, I was frequently asked about ‘the Olympics in England’. A Russian assured me that his country would beat ‘you English’ to third place in the medals table.  No positive ‘Team GB’ fall-out there!

I’d like too to see a detailed breakdown of the economic impact of the Games. I’d be surprised if anything approaching 1% of the £10 billion spent came Scotland’s way. I suspect the figure is nearer 0.1%.  Nor will Scotland, and all the other areas outwith the South East of England, benefit from the infrastructure created to support the Games.

And when it comes to health services, despite Boyle’s brilliant extravaganza, ours probably doesn’t measure up at all these days to those in, for example, the Scandinavian countries.

Hey, I’m straying into politics. Let’s stick to sport and the event itself.  Well done London on a wonderful Olympics. I’m sure you’ll do the same for the Para-Olympics.  You did yourself proud!          

But signing on for Team GB?  No thanks.              

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Hobbies and general interest

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