Have you noticed something about each of Great Britain’s gold medal winners so far?
They all share the same three values; humility, a hard work ethic, and a tremendous gratitude to their coaches and behind the scenes team.
What a lesson that is for not just other sportsmen and women but for the country as a whole. This sense of arrogance and a need for ‘respect’ and the succession of media trained interviews that we see from so many of our sports people has been shown to be a nonsense, an unnecessary indulgence.
What the likes of Sir Chris Hoy, Jess Ennis and Mo Farah have shown us is that if you work hard, and I mean really hard, you will give yourself a great chance of winning, and by winning you will earn respect. Sir Chris Hoy showed that in such emotional terms when Sir Steve Redgrave came down to congratulate him on his 6th Gold medal.
What was the first thing on Hoy’s mind as he was interviewed after he won? He thanked all of the coaches and support staff who got him there.
Here there has been no competing for time in front of the camera of playing mind games, there has just simply been a quiet confidence built from the knowledge that they have trained well and worked hard, followed by going out and performing. Some win, some lose, but nearly all have spoken with dignity and humility. No laying the blame at the hands of the officials, not even from Lewis Smith who tied for Gold but received Silver at the most marginal of balances.
It is the example of these heroic Olympians attitudes that our school boys and girls should follow not the Ronaldo preening or the ‘Ash Splash’. If these games are to leave a legacy, let it be that our young sportsmen and women follow the example of our British medallists.
Rugby is meant to be a sport which has that ‘Corinthian spirit’ that the Olympics has always had and has shown so brilliantly in these games. All too regularly though, rugby slips up, follow the example of the games and do not let those slip ups occur.
Our plea to all schools rugby teams then is this: Follow the example of our Olympians, enjoy your sport, work hard at it, appreciate those that guide you, appreciate your teammates. Through doing all of that you will achieve success, respect, and reward. Rugby is a sport based on values, stick to them and you will achieve.
For those who say that the Olympics are different, you are right, but let me point you towards a certain Jonny Wilkinson. Wilkinson never courted the front pages of the newspapers, his appearances there have only ever been purely as a result of his sporting achievements. He was never the most talented rugby player, he would say so himself, but at his peak he was the best and it was because he worked harder than anyone else. That hard work enabled him to win, and winning earned him the respect that everyone seems to crave now. Above all he did it with humility and dignity and with the greatest of respect to his coaches and teammates.
Let true sporting values be the legacy of the games, and I assure you, if your school team follows those values you will have a great season and some of you may well give yourselves the opportunity of a career.