As one of many people who is delighted by the huge success of UK competitors in Beijing my delight is the positive one for them, not the negative one that we are beating the Aussies. The rash of stories saying that the true competition is between us and them, and our victory over Australia is sweet is far from the Olympic spirit, and certainly does not chime with my feelings.
There are two things I like about this Olympics.
The first is to see new faces on TV of people I have not been told much about in the mainstream media, winning Gold and Silver medals. It is stunning that so many Brits are the best in the world at their chosen sports, and have reached that pinnacle without the media boring us all rigid with details of their private lives, the contents of their fridge and their behaviour on their last night out. Celebrity may sell papers, and personal lives exposed may be what many want, but there are people like me who want to read about what people are good at without having to wade through endless details about which supermarket they use and what they wear. Usually we hear about just two or three competitors who have a â€œprofileâ€ â€“ and sometimes flop at their event. This time we are hearing about an army of great sportsmen and women who have the blessing of little profile, but are just great at what they do.
The second is to see just how many people from the UK can excel at what they do through their own graft and application. We are told that itâ€™s the money and the coaches and the facilities. I am sure they help, but you canâ€™t get away from the fact â€“ and should not want to â€“ that it is also down to the guts, determination, and will to succeed of a new generation of British sports people who will not take losing for an answer. No coach can make a person win a medal unless they make the mental commitment to wanting one, and put the time in to benefit from the coaching. So letâ€™s hear it for our athletes.
The joy is no greater for me because we are taking more medals than Australia. Indeed, I apply a different kind of cricket test to who I support. If there is no Brit in a final then I would naturally support the runner from Jamaica or the swimmer from Australia, as I like to see the cricket playing countries of the world do well. I find I am always welcome in them, that we can do a lot of business in them, and that there is a natural camaraderie and friendship.They do not want to lecture me about the need to change the way my country is governed.
For those who do like joy at othersâ€™ failings it is more likely for Eurosceptics to be in our position well above all those EU countries that are constantly lecturing and hectoring us to be â€œbetter Europeansâ€, to learn from their success using the â€œEuropean modelâ€. Whenever I visit many continental countries I am made to defend my Euroscepticism and told that I am wrong to want a freer Europe with less government and less petty minded officiousness everywhere. The more they lecture me to love â€œEuropean solidarityâ€, to sign Lisbon, and give away the remaining birthrights of our freedoms, the more I feel the opposite. I suspect many Brits who do harbour negative feelings are keener to beat some European countries than Australia.