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These athletes are the real celebrities
I am anticipating Olympic withdrawal symptoms. The rare joy of events being broadcast at times when we in the UK can watch without staying up to 3am has meant that we have immersed ourselves in the breadth and depth of the fantastic efforts of competitors from all over the world. And the age of the red button has allowed us to choose our excitement of preference.
I know that some countries use the efforts of their athletes to boost their national image in the world, which is why we see certain countries suddenly break into the medal winning limelight while others continue to languish at the bottom of the medal table. Just compare the list of high achieving nations with those of ten and 20 years ago and you will see what I mean.
But leaving aside the politicians’ desire to use the efforts of all these remarkable sports competitors for nationalistic purposes, there have been some remarkable achievements on display in the superb stadia that we have produced for this year’s wonderful games. I have lost track of the number of times that I have ‘had something in my eye’ when sharing the joy of achievement of remarkable men and women who have dedicated their every waking moment for years to improving and honing their sporting skills to achieve beyond even their own hopes and expectations. Of course, our own athletes figure prominently for us, but it is a measure of the Olympic ideal that most of us are able to enthusiastically applaud and celebrate the successes of all nations and if anything can bring nations together in any meaningful way it is the co-co-celebration of what constitutes the best in us. Maybe the heady rush of global solidarity cannot be sustained, as the memory of the Olympics fades, but at least we will be able to remember that, like Camelot, the bright light shone for a while.
We live in a world where celebrity is valued as a commodity that seems to be accorded to those who earn a fortune working in front of cameras and inhabit the gossip columns. These athletes are the real celebrities, although with a bit of luck they won’t find themselves subjected for too long to the kind of tabloid scrutiny given to reality TV stars and footballers.
How they will begin to sort out Sports personality of the Year this year, heaven only knows.