Britain’s Beijing heroes can teach soccer a thing or two
There was something wonderfully natural and down-to-earth about these luminaries of Britain’s finest Olympic effort in a century.
Hearing them articulate their thoughts about the last few weeks in Beijing, it was hard to avoid making comparisons with Premier League footballers.
Of course, these Olympians were relishing their moment in the sun — whereas top-level footballers facing the media spotlight day in, day out may become understandably more guarded.
One Times writer made the point that if the rowers received “120,000 pounds a week, a team of flunkies, a 10-page spread in Hello! and more groupies than they know what to do with”, they too might find their priorities blurred.
It is evident that the massive earnings of top soccer players have set them apart — and ensured they are considered fair game for criticism by both media and fans. Yet their own behaviour — be it snarling indiscipline on the field or excessive salary demands off it — does not help their image either.
Some are also guilty of believing their own hype — as evidenced by the sight of ears glittering with expensive jewellery when they pass through mixed zones after matches.
Arguably the epitome of this came at the 2006 World Cup in Germany when England’s footballers shut themselves away in an exclusive Baden Baden resort. The only thing ordinary about the Golden Generation was their performance level.
For the unassuming sportsmen and women on view at Heathrow, the only gold on view was that dangling from their necks.
PHOTO: Britain’s Olympic gold medallists arrive back from the Beijing at Heathrow Airport in London, Aug 25 REUTERS/Luke MacGregor