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Four More Years of Being Ignored

Aug 28, 2008
The Beijing Olympics Games have finally come to a close and the national media is clamouring to secure interviews with those successful British athletes. But for how much longer?

As they bask in the limelight of their victories, it is a sad state of affairs that in the coming weeks, months and years, those athletes we so readily praise in victory and are so en vogue will soon slip from our radars. Instead, the next four years will see attention turned to promising athletes in more mainstream events who will inevitably underachieve in London 2012, or whose success will promptly catapult them into upper echelons of Olympic greatness with just one victory.

Sad as it is to say, the Olympic fad has passed - at least for now - and many of the less appealing sports will disappear into the obscurity from whence they came. There is no taking away from the achievements of the athletes during their time in Beijing, but can any of us really say we will be scouring the internet in search of the latest keelboat sailing results? Or perhaps trawling through the satellite channels looking for the latest coverage of taekwondo?

Of course not. And is a shame that these successful exponents of their sport will go largely ignored. It is a certainty, however, that there will be plenty of publicity and coverage for those less successful athletes in the more 'appealing' disciplines. Sure, Britain may have won only four medals - and just one gold - in the events of track and field, but you can be certain that these will be the athletes that secure the greatest column inches and, no doubt, the highest level of funding.

Look, for example, at the amount of coverage 100 metre sprinter Dwain Chambers achieved in the run up to Beijing - and he wasn't even competing! As a keen sports fan myself, I can honestly say that of the Great British athletes who achieved gold at the summer games, I am familiar with only around half the names. Instead, I could probably reel off twice as many names of those British track and field athletes that either failed to qualify or failed to medal.

Quite clearly this should not be the case and for too long we have pandered to the mentality of the 'plucky Brit'. Yes we would all dearly like to see Paula Radcliffe go home with gold, but whenever it comes to the important races all confidence seems to go out the window in both spectator and athlete alike. Perhaps withdrawing such media attention to a select few or dispersing the responsibility more evenly will enable athletes to rediscover that missing component necessary for victory.

I am sure I am not alone in this belief, so I am delighted that those athletes that achieved great success in Beijing are enjoying their time in the limelight. For once the fuss dies down and attention to the Olympic Games dwindles, it will not be until 2012 that their names are the centre of attention once again.

In the meantime, sports fans will undoubtedly turn their focus to the overpaid and underachieving athlete that is the modern footballer.
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