Hard work and good sports

By Cari Rosen, August 28, 2012

And so the post Olympic depression is slowly - oh so slowly - beginning to lift, aided only by a new series of The Great British Bake Off and the imminent opening of the Paralympic Games.

Can there be any more conclusive proof of my reluctance to move on from that amazing fortnight than an overwhelming yearning to sport my volunteer's uniform - unforgiving polyester slacks and all - even though there is no longer any need for me to dress head to toe in man-made fibres? And trust me, in this heat that's really saying something.

Yes, my daily check for last minute tickets is possibly fruitless, given that the event has actually been over for the best part of two weeks. But at least it takes my mind off the sorry fact that Claire Balding is no longer on the telly all day.

I'm as surprised as the next person that I found myself glued to sports I'd never have dreamed of watching in the past. Who knew that dancing horses could be quite so enthralling, that one could become so wholly absorbed in synchronised swimming? Who knew that adults (ok, yes, me) would be quite so ready to have their faces painted red, white and blue, to wave plastic flags as though their lives depended on it?

I remain in awe of every single competitor. This may be because I'm lacking in any athletic prowess myself. Sure, if kneidlach rolling was a sport, if Jewish guilt an Olympic discipline, I'd be a shoe-in for gold. But track, field, bendy stuff - really not so easy for one with a slipped disc and a penchant for lokshen pudding.

But these truly were the Games to inspire a generation. Small boys of my acquaintance are now spending every spare minute doing time trials on their bikes down the park. My own four-year-old can be found weeping in the wee small hours "because I can't decide whether I'm going to be an Olympic swimmer or an Olympic gymnast or an Olympic cyclist" (a quandary that perhaps we will revisit once she has learned to ride the bike without stabilisers).

Perhaps what stuck me most of all was how thoroughly decent the vast majority of these athletes seemed to be. Humble, disciplined, hard-working, many earning a pittance from their sports. I am not the first to compare them to some of the millionaire footballers we see splashed across the front pages for all the wrong reasons.

Two weeks ago the nation witnessed Mo Farah winning his second gold of the Games and attributing his success to "hard work and grafting".

Last Saturday night the nation witnessed a wannabe pop star effing and blinding at the X Factor judges - then decking the cameraman.

Evidence, if ever it were needed, that it's time to stop seeing fleeting fame and reality TV as the measure of success. And time to let these new role models show our kids that if you want to do something really special with your life you're going to have to work at it.

Last updated: 12:45pm, August 28 2012