I've been thinking quite a bit about the Olympic badminton fiasco. You heard about this, right? In case you haven't, this is the story about eight badminton players being disqualified from the competition for "not using one's best efforts to win". I didn't watch the matches, but essentially these players were deliberately playing badly so that they would lose their doubles match and therefore get an easier draw in the next round, easing their way through to the final. I agree wholeheartedly with the disqualification because the actions of these players have annoyed and upset me considerably. This is why.
We talk about athletes across all sports and disciplines "representing their countries". For many people this is quite an abstract concept, but for me, it feels much more real. I believe that these athletes, their effort and endeavour, truely represent the people of the country that they are competing for. They are our finest, our best and they are competing on behalf of each and every single one of us. Why else do we get so much joy and excitement from their success? Why else do we feel so deflated when they do not perform as well as they and we had hoped?
In contrast to the attitude we saw from the badminton players, earlier this week we had the British men's rowing eight competing at Dorney, aiming to win the gold medal. They gave it everything they had, went out like the clappers and risked going home with nothing as a result. Thankfully they left with the bronze, making the nation proud in the process.
So I guess my question is, who would you want representing you? Who do you feel better represents you as a person, as a citizen of your nation? The participants who seek to make their way through the competition by taking the easy option? By choosing the path of least resistance? Or those who hit the finish line leaving everything they have on the floor? Those who strive for excellence?
I know my preference! Bring on the British bulldog spirit - grab on and don't let go until the job is done. Go Team GB!