When wasn’t it our time?
My first recollection of sport was at the age of four, and I could hear my father screaming at the television at the England team who were taken to the Mexico 1986 World Cup. And bellowing his advice to the likes of Gary Lineker, Glenn Hoddle, and Peter Shilton. We actually only finished eighth that year, after some of the worst performances my father had ever seen by the England squad. In the summer of 1986 an American won the Tour de France a German won Wimbledon and the British Lions didn’t even go on tour. Nevertheless, we did win the ashes, all be it not very convincingly. The British culture of sport was mainly dosed in alcohol, fighting and bullish behaviour. It is safe to say that we were decades away from winning anything. As a nation we were behind in so many of the sports that we allegedly invented all those years ago.
Slowly getting better…
It is hard to define when the turning point of British sport was. Although there were moments of greatness over the last 20 years. For example Jonny Wilkinson’s last second drop goal in the Rugby World Cup. Chris Boardman’s ride to glory in the Olympics. At home we had some of the toughest leagues and best sports to watch in the world. Yet, when we take all that talent into international duty we have a tendency to flop. The build up to the Olympics has had a huge effect on our sport. I am not saying that the Olympics was the major turning point, but the money and the funding that went into it surely helped our individual athletes. Sport and the sciences that are around it are becoming ever more popular. As a lecturer in sports science I’m seeing more and more students wanting to come onto the courses I deliver. And they are also looking to go on to studying sport sciences and related specialities at higher levels. Therefore, along with athletic talent, we are now getting the people to make this talent better. However a sport scientist also needs an athlete to work with. To which, this is also being improved with the variety of sports and the huge encouragement that schools and colleges are giving students to continue in their sports throughout their teenage years. And now, in 2013, it is fair to say that we have carved the way to sporting excellence. But we are not there yet. Although we are winning, we are doing it in the hardest possible way. For example, Lee Halfpenny missing that kick to secure the victory on the Lions tour. When Justin Rose just missed his approach shot on the 14th hole in the U.S. Open. When when Andy Murray dropped two sets in the final at Wimbledon.
Lets be good in at least one sport…
I remember being in a meeting about two years ago and one member of staff was discussing how ‘we need to be good in at least one sport’. The Spanish football team have dominated world football for the last five or six years. And now it looks like there will be a shift, moving across Europe into Germany. We were never able to perform well at one particular sport on the international stage. From watching England in World Cups and European Championships, to watching the Ashes, to watching the British Lions and the England rugby teams, to watching Murray get to so many finals and not hold the trophy. It was always so painful getting to the last hurdle and then falling.
‘Every time you win, you’re reborn; when you lose, you die a little.’ George Allen.
As a nation we have felt what it’s like to die again and again. However our nation has been reborn in sport. To summarise our success this year:
- Scott Waites won at the BDO World darts Championships.
- England dominated in the T20 against New Zealand in March.
- Andy Murray won the Sony open tennis in the US.
- We’ve had a number of British winners at 3 and 6 of Silverstone and also in formula 3.
- Chris Froome won the tour of Romandie.
- We have British winners in rallycross, speedway and superbikes on the international stage.
- Our junior England rugby team won at the IRB junior world Championships.
- Justin rose won the US open.
- The British Lions won 2-1 in their tour against the Wallabies
- We had a British driver win as part of a team in the 24 hours of Le Mans.
- Andy Murray finally won at Wimbledon.
- Chris Froome won the 100th and best Tour de France to date.
And it’s only July. At last we are a nation to be feared and not laughed at. Other nations take us seriously, because we now have an abundance of talented athletes, and we also have the best sport science and the best equipment and we leave no stone unturned when we want to win.
We have more talent in the bag too!