The week ahead (and the weeks to come) will of course be dominated by the Olympic Games... I absolutely love watching any and every event and can’t wait for it all to start.
Over the last couple of days, there has been a bit of a verbal exchange between Sir Steve Redgrave and Daley Thompson regarding who is Britain’s “greatest” Olympian. Comparing different sportsmen, competing in different sports albeit in slightly overlapping eras is always going to be subjective...
Citius, altius, fortius... faster, higher, stronger goes the motto... Thompson was all of those things... twice... an amazingly gifted and versatile all-round athlete. Redgrave won five consecutive gold medals... his ability matched by remarkable dedication... but he always had someone for company. There are surely other contenders too... especially in recent times from the worlds of sailing and cycling; perhaps you might consider Mary Rand, Ann Packer, Coe, Ovett or Kelly Holmes... or what about Paulo Radmilovic... ahhh the unforgettable Paulo...
Welsh-born, of Croatian extraction, Paulo won four gold medals in water polo and swimming between 1908 and 1920 (and may have won more had the 1916 games not been cancelled)...
Which brings me to Rebecca Romero... a silver medal in rowing in 2004, followed by a gold in cycling four years later. Now that’s impressive.
Who would I pick? Probably Steve Redgrave... to be able to maintain strength, fitness, focus and desire over such an extended period and then to produce your best just at the right time... five times... people like that don’t come around very often...
The greatest Olympian ever..? Well that’s another question. I suppose many will suggest Michael Phelps, who may be just days away from enhancing his legacy. He is the most prolific gold medallist in the history of the modern games, but with deference to such names as Paavo Nurmi, Mark Spitz, Carl Lewis, Lasse Viren, Nadia Commaneci, Al Oerter and Michael Johnson, my vote goes to Raw Ewry.
It’s not the fact that Ewry won ten gold medals between 1900 and 1908 (two were in the intercalated – 10th anniversary – games in 1906; results are currently not recognised by the IOC [International Olympic Committee] despite the fact that those games were organised as an Olympic event... by the IOC!)... what is truly remarkable is that Ray contracted polio as a child, spent some time confined to a wheelchair amid fears he may be
Well successes in the now defunct events of standing high jump, standing long jump and standing triple jump were testament to the courage of the young man from Lafayette in Indiana... Most of you will never have heard of him, but for me, he encapsulates absolutely everything about the Olympic ideal...
Roll on Friday...
All my own work... almost.