We Brits have had a bit of a chip on our collective shoulder for years now. We were an enormous colonial power, the most powerful country in the world, and now much of our power and influence is gone – though, truth be told, we still punch about our weight in many areas.
The knowledge of our slow decline is there in every Briton, but this summer has given us reason to feel proud of ourselves – and it’s all down to sport. (Well, the Diamond Jubilee kicked the summer off in impressive fashion, but you know what I mean).
First, Bradley Wiggins winning the Tour De France in fine style, the first Briton to do so. Rory McIlroy won the US Masters, followed by the enormous success of our Olympic and Paralympic athletes and at a home games, no less. Andy Murray rounded off a wonderful summer with his 5 set victory over Novak Djokovic in the final of the US Open on Monday, winning his first Grand Slam after being runner-up on four occasions.
The nation’s mood has rarely been higher than it has this summer, and the importance of that cannot be underestimated, especially at a time when many are still struggling as a result of the economic crisis.
After a slow few days at the beginning of the Olympics, the medals began rolling in thick and fast, and both Team GB and (especially) Paralympics GB out-performed expectations. Every new gold medal was a shot in the arm to the British public and we lapped it up. Talk centred on little else but the events at the Olympic Park, at Weymouth, at Greenwich and at Eton Dorney. Even those who do not normally enjoy sport and who were ambivalent about London 2012 before the games got swept up in the excitement.
We learned of athletes previously unknown to us – I’d never heard of Sarah Storey or David Weir before the Paralympic Games, despite the considerable success each had achieved even before London 2012. The Sports Personality of the Year award will be a tough decision this year!
We have enjoyed ourselves, we have been inspired, and we have shown the world what we can do on this little island. As a nation, we’re rather proud of ourselves, however un-British it is to admit that!
It’s been a wonderful summer – now we just have to get used to normal life again, without new sporting achievements to celebrate every day.
The BBC has a great piece on the same theme: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-19542470