The British View

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Image Source: london2012On the BBC this morning, there was a recap of the medal count. “Team GB,” as it is known here, is in third place in terms of Olympic gold medals (though in fourth place in total medals won). The commentator noted, with some bemusement, that the American Olympic contingent and the American press rank the participating countries’ performance by total medals – but we seem to be in the minority in that respect. The Brits seem to be surprised that a country that puts such a premium on winning would take such pride in second and third place. They do have a point. If we applied this rationale to the NFL, the Buffalo Bills would be the team of the 90’s (four Super Bowl silver medals) rather than the Dallas Cowboys (three Super Bowl gold medals).

The difference in the way the medal haul is counted should not matter by the end of the Games as the U.S. gold medal tally should surpass the Chinese after the track and field medals are awarded in the next few days.

I think the Brits are also amused at the U.S. Olympic teamwear, and note the irony of us showing up in England with gigantic emblems of polo players on them. It would be akin to a British team coming to compete here and sporting team shirts with a baseball player on them.

I had not appreciated how big track cycling is in Britain. Tickets to the Velodrome are much sought after, and the British have dominated the cycling events at these Olympics.

Image Source: jonocliffordBefore leaving Britain, I will laud the Queen one more time. Not only was her Opening Ceremony skit with Daniel Craig a tour de force, but another memorable performance by her last year is paying dividends. I was in a pub several nights ago and met some Olympic tourists from Ireland who were equestrian fans (the equestrian events are huge at these Olympics, drawing crowds of more than 50,000). They became supporters of these Olympics a year ago, when the Queen became the first British monarch in 100 years to set foot on Irish soil – and she did so resplendent in green. The Irish tourists found themselves rooting for Zara Philips, the Queen’s granddaughter and an Olympian in equestrian events – something they said they could not have imagined doing before the Queen’s visit. Is it possible that after 60 years on the throne she is actually entering her prime?

And on one American note, I was very pleased to see Allyson Felix win the 200 meters. She has been a reliable, consistent and admirable competitor since she appeared on the scene as a teenager.

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