Great British summer of sport (part two)

Sports fans

Last summer, my first one living back in the UK for two decades, was a patriotic sports fan’s nirvana.

Naturally there was the full glory of the Olympics and Paralympics which seemed to inspire British sportspeople and sports fans in equal measures.

Athletes like Mo Farah, Jess Ennis, David Weir, Ben Ainslie, Sir Chris Hoy, Jamie Peacock, Ellie Simmonds, Greg Rutherford, Katherine Grainger, Sarah Storey and a whole host more besides became household names during those glorious summer months.

But that was by no means all.

(Sir) Bradley Wiggins becoming Britain’s first ever winner of the Tour de France…Rory McIlroy winning the US PGA golf competition by a record 8 strokes…the dramatic victory for Europe (inc GB golfers) over the US in the Ryder Cup…the hits just kept on coming.

Proof of this unprecedented success came later in the year with the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year, where there was heated debate as to who should be on the list of top ten nominations,  let alone who should win.

(This seemed in stark contrast to previous years where the winner seemed typically to be a choice between a horse rider who didn’t fall off much, a car driver who came 3rd and a footballer who won some caps for a mediocre England team and wasn’t too obnoxious).

But this was not the case in 2012, following the ‘golden summer of sport’ where there were any one of a number of worthy candidates for the BBC award, many of whom were also subsequently honoured with assorted OBEs, MBEs and Knighthoods.

Of course, the problem with this success is how on earth do you follow it? A fact brought up as soon as the Closing ceremony was over by the gloom merchants who were probably also the ones predicting (hoping?) the Olympics would be a disaster in the first place.

“Enjoy it while it lasts. It will never be like this again” they would moan in Eeyore-like tone, secretly glad that the default setting of frustration and misery would soon be returning to British sports fans.

But hold on a minute. Maybe there is life in the old dog yet.

Last weekend, saw triumphs for both the British and Irish Lions (1st series win for 16 years) and, of course, Andy Murray (1st men’s singles winner at Wimbledon for 77 years).

A few weeks ago, Justin Rose won the US Open Golf tournament (1st Englishman for 43 years) and as I write this, Chris Froome is leading the Tour de France, bidding to make it two in a row for Britain’s Team Sky.

And to cap it all, the first game in back-to-back Ashes series started today wherein England are hoping to extend their superiority over Australia for a third straight series (which hasn’t happened since 1981).

So whilst I will grudgingly accept that we will maybe never quite match last summer for sporting wonderment, I reckon this year is shaping up rather nicely, don’t you?

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