The 2012 London Olympics are almost upon us. I heard the comedian David Baddiel say on TV that sport is probably the only human endeavour at which you can say someone is truly the greatest. That is true in respect of a person’s technical ability but the hype that surrounds it can be out of all proportion.
If British competitors fail to get more than five gold medals then many might say for the United Kingdom it has been a failure and there will be a clamour for our sporting authorities to get back to “grass roots” and search for future sporting champions. The recent failure of Andy Murray to overcome tennis champion Roger Federer at Wimbledon is a classic example. Prospects for a great victory ran high and the fact that he broke down after failing to best arguably the best tennis player of all time is sad. The pressure to succeed was immense.
There has to be a sense of proportion. The Australian cricketer and World War II fighter pilot Keith Miller summed it up for all sports when he said, “Pressure is a Messerschmitt up your arse, playing cricket is not”. The sheer enjoyment of competing for your country, with and against other people must be the over riding purpose. The result should not matter too much. It is truly satisfying to identify that a team or competitor is the best but it is not paramount.