Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Investing not Buying

Even though I don't currently live in Britain, I am very glad that by an accident of birth I was born British. I like being British, I like my British passport and have no ambition to ever give it up or take citizenship of another country. Eventually, I want to go home, once I am done with my wandering around the world and all that stuff. I am sure that sounds a little strange considering Mrs V and I have just bought a house but in my family buying a house is no barrier to picking up and moving on - my elder brother did so to move to Australia and my parents did it in order to move to France.

Before I wander too far though from the topic of this post, let me come back on theme, yes I am proud to be British, though not in some boorish sense that Britain is the best thing since sliced bread, but more an understated appreciation to have been born there. Two of the things that make most proud to have come from Britain are the National Health Service and the British Broadcasting Corporation. I am not really in a position to benefit from the awesomeness that is the NHS, but I listen to the BBC World Service practically every day, and yesterday they really pissed me off.

On my drive home from work I was listening to a show called "London Calling", which reviews the Olympics currently happening in London. What's that you say? You were on the Mars Rover and were not aware that the greatest sporting event in the world is taking place in London at the moment? Well, tsk, tsk is all I have to say about that. Anyway, on the show they were asking the question if Britain had "bought" all these gold medals because of all the money spent by the government on sporting facilities and training since the abject failure of the British team in Atlanta?

I found myself yelling at the radio, admit it, you do too! What kind of ridiculous notion is it that a country should invest over a 16 year period in sports facilities and training, and then when that investment bears fruit somehow the gold medals have been "bought"? I wish the British government would take a similar strategy of investment in things like the NHS, science education, inner city schools, the list goes on, but I digress.

These gold, silver and bronze medals are the culmination of years of investment, both financial and in terms of time, and to claim they have somehow been bought is disgraceful and does a great disservice to the Olympians who won them. After all, it is not as though an oil rich magnate from Russia or the Middle East has lavished riches on a mediocre athletics program, bought in the best athletes from around the world and had them don a Team GB shirt.

I for one think every medalist deserves immense praise for their achievement, and every time I see another Brit on the podium I smile broadly.