I watched the final from the cathedral-like atmosphere of the referee’s seats, expressing my excitement with the occasional burst of polite clapping. The rest of the British squad sat quietly by the shiai-jo doing pretty much the same thing even though they were bursting out of their skins with enthusiasm.
When our national anthem was played at the closing ceremony we all stood in silence. This was in marked contrast to spectator behavior on previous days and competitions when everyone joined in singing the French and Italian anthems. It may be because they have catchier tunes (apologies your Majesty) or simply that British reserve gets in the way of a good public sing song.
This national difference is evident in the way we applaud at kendo matches. The Brits have taken to the Japanese pattern of polite clapping, whilst our continental neighbours prefer more vocal support. Over the three days of the event, numerous requests were made for supporters to stop cheering or rhythmic clapping, but as soon as it stopped it restarted.
I was asked for my opinion of this at the sayonara party and frankly the fact that I am not keen on loud support is as much a reflection of my British reserve as my conservative kendo attitude.
Nevertheless, regardless of how I express it I am thoroughly delighted to have witnessed Stuart’s achievement. Well done Gibbo!