The 2012 London Olympics have reached their end and like many of my fellow Britons, I have been caught up in Olympic fever. From the opening ceremony (give or take a slightly wobbly Sir Paul McCartney), to the final days competition, the whole thing has been truly inspirational.
I have been delighted that London has managed the event so well and that we have seen so many exceptional performances from athletes from around the globe. On a patriotic level, to know that Great Britain with a population of less than 60 million is third in the medal count, behind only the USA and China makes me swell with pride and whilst tickets were hard to get, I was glued to the TV for many of the events.
Whilst I writing this before the closing ceremony, many of the analysts and pundits have been giving their view on why Team GB has achieved relative success this time round and the answer has emphatically been the £260 plus million of lottery funding spent on athlete development. It is good to know that although I have never won so much as ten pounds, that my pound a week (and that of a few other people) has gone to such a good cause.
I have to confess to slightly mixed feelings on this going back to the 12th World Kendo Championships, when both Sport England and Sport Scotland refused to make any contribution to a World class event. It is of course obvious that the Olympic Games is the most prestigious sporting occasion in the world today, so one can see why funding works the way it does. With that in mind and with the adrenalin of the event still running high, it is easy to ask the question “Why is kendo not an Olympic sport?”
Coming back to the games themselves, there were as I mentioned some amazing performances from many athletes, not least from female competitors in the combat sports. Nicola Adams won an amazing boxing gold for Britain in the women’s flyweight class and Jade Jones took gold in the women’s 57kg taekwondo competition, This in itself was a superhuman feat, a nineteen year old from a small town in North Wales beating the World’s best.
What I am going to say next in no way detracts from my admiration of Jade’s achievement; but I was disappointed to see that at the end of her final match instead of thanking her opponent, her first reaction was to throw her headgear on the floor and break into a victory dance routine.
If kendo were to become an Olympic sport would we lose the strict reiho that now seems unique to kendo and perhaps sumo? If we did, would the sacrifice be worth it when weighed against the gains in public interest and financial support?
For once, I would like to keep my opinion to myself and to ask yours with the following simple questionnaire.