Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Sour Grapes

Now, don't get me wrong, given my physique, you would be forgiven for thinking that I'm not that into sport. The truth is, I quite enjoy a bit of sport.  Watching it, that is.

As an avid sport watcher (!), one can hardly fail to have noticed that a little thing called the Olympics landed in our fair isle a week or so ago.

We've followed the highs and lows of the Games, learning new things, watching different sports, oggling the ladies in the Beach Volleyball (don't deny it, everyone's had a quick peek on the Red Button...!)

There's been triumph and heartbreak.  Records broken and personal bests beaten.  And in all of this, Team GB seem to be doing pretty darn well.  It's rather proud-making to watch.

The thing that is not very proud-making is the sour grapes that appear to be emanating from a certain track cyclists' mouth.  I'm not talking about Victoria Pendleton, because I don't think I've heard her say a bad word against anybody, or Sir Chris Hoy, because I've heard he's a thoroughly bloody nice bloke.  I'm talking about Wendy Houvenaghel.

Who?  Well quite.  Poor Wendy was selected for TEAM GB (I emphasise the word TEAM!) only to be left out of the Team Pursuit races at the Velodrome.  The Team Pursuit races which ultimately led to another Gold for TEAM GB.

See Wendy in full flow here.  I warn you, there's 8 minutes of it, I've only managed to get to 3.12.

Now, instead of being sporting and supportive and full of praise for her team mates, Wendy has instead come out to 'slam' and 'blast' her team mates and head coach for the decision not to "let her do her job".

I don't know why this has riled me so much, but I think it's just so disgustingly unsporting of her, in what is a really huge time for Team GB, a time for this whole country - no matter who you are, or where you're from, or whether you even like sport - to be proud!

Oh but hang on, Wendy has decided that the medal was meant to be hers, "for Northern Ireland."  Right, okay.  No further comment on that point.

You haven't seen David Beckham loitering in the Olympic Park, waiting to speak to a journalist and then decrying the fact that Team GB got knocked out of the Football 'because they didn't let me play'.

I get it, you thought you were in.  For 4 months you thought you were in.  Until 30 minutes before one of the heats you thought you were in.  And that must be hard to bear.  I feel for you, I really do, it's like being the last one picked for a team in PE and boy oh boy do I know how that feels.  So yes, somewhere deep inside, I feel bad for you, and do think the coach should've just come out and said it to you, but he probably didn't want to hurt your feelings.  Or maybe he felt pressured into it.  Or maybe he's scared of you.

To call the girls "juvenile" is in itself the very same.  They're probably scared of you too Wendy, I wouldn't mess with you, and one wonders whether to hit Publish at all for fear of the reprisals should you or one of your publicists stumble across it!

And if her 'people' do come across this, then I'm sorry, okay, don't sue me, there's plenty of people saying the same thing, here, here, here.  All I'm saying is that I think it's bad form to come out and say those things, when your Team are doing so well in the Olympics.  Think of all the other athletes who have competed, but not won a medal.  I'm sure there are others who were selected and then didn't get the chance to compete.  And what about those who weren't even selected?  Those poor buggers who had to sit at home like the rest of us, except for them, they had to wonder what if.

Maybe it's the 'what if' that's bothering you Wendy.  I know you're on the cusp of retirement, you're the wrong side of 36.  But wouldn't it have been more graceful to come out and congratulate those girls?  Those girls who have done wonders for your sport and promoting it's merits.  Who won medals for Team GB, who helped us keep the Number 3 spot in the table amongst the might of China and the USA, little old Blighty, and we're Number 3 in the world, thanks to those girls.

And to Joanna Rowsell, who I cannot applaud enough, for promoting awareness of alopecia, to young women who are probably having a really hard time of it.  For those girls, do you not think that seeing Joanna compete and win a Gold medal, has made them realise that there's nothing holding them back, they can be and do what they want and no one can stop them?

Anyway, I've had my rant, watch the video and see for yourself.  Makes me quite sad to be honest.  And actually, I think it's Wendy I feel saddest for.  You were picked, then not picked, they played with your heart and your emotions.  And some mad fool has shoved you into the limelight, wound you up and set you spinning for 8 minutes in front of a BBC camera.  And for that, I feel for you love.  You won't be remembered as one of the greats of track cycling, entering the sport just 6 years ago, I fear you may well be remembered for this ugly out burst.

Next time Wendy, remember, there is no 'i' in Team.

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