Footballers could learn a thing or two from our Olympic athletes


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Okay, I’m going to be honest and admit I’m not ‘big’ on sports. Maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. I like sports. Hate playing them thanks to a cruel jibe at my Year 7 Interform sports day. I used to be a good runner, especially 100m and 200m. I remember being so full of my own confidence (because I was best in my form) I threw myself into competitions and stuff.

Anyway I’m running, really fast, and I glance to the sidelines. It’s [NAME OMITTED]! Laughing, pointing. I get a bit distracted and wobble, but still win my race (I think I got 14.7s, I think? Is that good?) and later go to up [NAME OMITTED] because him and a clique of chain-smoking pregnant girls are pissing themselves.

“What’s so funny?”

“Mandle, Christ, you run like an absolute spastic.”

“What!?”

“So funny, like a fucking ostrich or something.”

Heartbreaking. I was so pleased, but I glance at my knobbly knees, already at 12 years old sprouting wiry hairs all over them. I go bright red. Do I really run weirdly? At a later date, I get a friend to film a trial run I. I watch the evidence. HOLY SHIT.

Now, of course, I jog infrequently, and make sure not to concentrate on how bendy-legged i am. Nobody looks great running, do they? But anyway, I used to be a keen sports person but it kind of went away that day.

So it’s for those reasons that I am surprised I’m enjoying the Olympics as much as I am. It’s amazing. The opening ceremony was pride-rousingly tongue-in-cheek in parts, with national treasures such as J.K Rowling, the NHS and Tom Riddle (aka Lord Voldemort) being wheeled out. Last friday, I wondered if the Orbit thing could be a Horcrux.

Probably the nicest thing about the Olympics this far in – despite the fact we’re doing really fucking good – is that nobody is too concerned about us doing really fucking good. It’s just a nice aside to the whole thing. When Tom Daly was harassed by a troll on Twitter, support poured in for him and the weirdo was arrested. When Frankie Boyle likened Rebecca Adlington to a dolphin, people naturally told him to do one. And last night I reprimanded a bartender in a casino for being a sexist dick about Jessica Ennis. There’s overwhelming moral support for the Team GB athletes; they all seem so humble, so deserving of whatever they get, and they make you feel quite proud.

Whenever footballers fail, there’s often a surge of vitriol from people, supporters or not. Footballers are not, generally, very liked. We like to see them fall because they earn so much money and generally, they’re just so easy to dislike. Look at Jon Terry and the ‘race row’ thing. And Wayne Rooney, who despite being talented and clearly an important player seems ambivalent towards being a role model.

But Olympic athletes? They’re so nice! Doesn’t Tom Daly come across as a sound guy. And when the rowing team started crying after winning their gold medal today, you just want to go up to them and shake their hand and say ‘you’re absolutely brilliant’. There’s no smugness, no attitude (well, there could be, behind the scenes, like maybe Michael Phelps demands a puppy to fuss over before each race, or a box of Celebrations with the Bounty ones carefully removed) and I think that, above everything else, is why we’re feeling more patriotic than ever during the London 2012 Olympics.

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