If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same…
You’ll be a man, my son
Way back in June at the NMBS Conference, Roger Black told the assembled delegates that a cyclist sponsored by an independent builders merchant – Elliotts in Southampton – had been selected to ride for Team GB.
“She’s probably in with a good chance of a medal” he told the Conference.
Well on Saturday night, in front of a packed Velodrome, 21 year old Dani King proved the selectors had got it right. She repaid the faith that Stuart Mason Elliott and the rest of the team at Elliotts placed in her five years ago when they started sponsoring her. And she repaid it in spades.
The women’s cycling team pursuit trio of King, Laura Trott and Jo Rowsell powered to the Olympic gold medal and a world record (breaking their own record set in the semi-final).
Last week, I blogged about the pride-inspiring opening ceremony and the amazing medal winning feats of Phelps and the UK’s first women rowers to win Olympic gold. If only I’d known what was yet to come, I might have tried to keep some enthusiasm in check, in case I ran out of cheers. Or tears. (Turns out I have plenty of both left!);
They call the middle Saturday of the Olympic fortnight SuperSaturday and boy, are they right. But by then we’d also had – well let’s just call it Fantastic Friday. The amazing Kathryn Grainger and Anna Watkins as well as Alan Campbell in the rowing, Chris Hoy and the men’s sprint team and Victoria Pendleton in the Velodrome and then the three gold medals for athletics in the Olympic Stadium.
Then we had our first equestrian golds for donkey’s years, Laura Trott powered to another gold and Sir Chris Hoy blubbed like a geyser as he received his sixth gold medal.
There are pages and pages of newspapers who are covering all this far better and probably less gushingly than I can (although the Express and Mirror have both got pictures of the Dutch dressage team instead of the gold-winning Team GB members. Probably on the grounds that all posh, horsey people look the same), so I’m not going to mention everything that’s had me cheering in the last few days.
So far, the things that will stay with me for a long time are Dani King’s mega-watt smile on the podium, which could power cities, a spent Mark Hunter being carried from his boat by Sir Steve Redgrave, Grainger’s ‘yeah, worth the wait’ comment, Ali Browenlee draped in the Union flag, walking over the line to grab gold at the end of the triathlon and the Chinese hurdler whose Achilles tendon injury returned at the worst possible moment, but who dragged himself back to the track to finish the course, finally being helped off by athletes of all nations.
The London Olympics has shown us, so far, the benefits of true endeavour, team-spirit, guts, talent and, sometimes, sheer bloody-mindedness. It’s also shown us what happens when you decide on a goal and invest properly, wisely and with a view to the long game, rather than short-term profits.
I’m looking forward to seeing all those traits nicely demonstrated when the football season starts again later this month. Oh.