Sunday, 26 July 2009

The Brits are Flying...

I've got a question:

Which of the following events do you think will be widely reported on the news tonight?

1. 2008 World Champion Lewis Hamilton wins his first Grand Prix of the year with a commanding performance in Hungary.

2. In just two years, and at the age of 24, Mark Cavendish has become the first British man to win more than 8 stages at the Tour de France .

3. Bradley Wiggins has finished fourth in the Tour, matching the previous record for a British man in the competition.

The answer, of course, is the first one. Formula 1 is loved and followed by millions of people. It's a sport in which the Brits have a great history and heritage and where a number of teams have their bases. It's glamourous, wealthy and highly commercial.

Cycling, by contrast, is a bit of a cinderella sport. While it has benefited from National Lottery funds, and a governing body which has invested in a training infrastructure designed to achieve World and Olympic medals, it has not really reached into the popular consciousness in the same way.

Despite the haul of cycling golds at last years Olympics, precious few people will be aware of the continuing plaudits achieved by our cyclists. Indeed, few people will be interested in cycling until the 2012 Olympics roll round.

Now, I'm not wanting to be hypocritical about this. I'm not pretending I've been following every twist and turn of Mark Cavendish's achievements in the past year while I have been following every twist and turn of F1. I'm not expecting cycling to become the focal point of sports bulletins or the BBC to broadcast "Ride of the Day"

The point I want to make is that we have sportspeople out there, in various sports, competing either directly or indirectly for this country week in, week out. And when they achieve personal bests or outperform their predecessors, we owe them a bit more than an "and finally" in the news.

No comments: