Never Mind Being Good Losers, How About Being Great Winners?

What an extraordinary week of revelations the people of the United Kingdom have had. Not, for a welcome change, revelations about politicians, or bankers or any other former bastion of society. No, this time it's a revelation about ourselves. A good revelation. A great revelation. Because, despite all our fears, it seems we're actually rather good at this Olympics lark. And, more importantly, at winning medals, and gold ones at that.

It probably shouldn't surprise us. We've always had the potential. We've had a number of 'names'  we've known were capable of becoming Olympic champions, but it's been such a long wait, and there have been so many disappointments, we hardly dared to dream of this kind of success. Because, and whisper it quietly and touch a great big lump of wood, Team GB is higher up the medal table than any comparable nation and, if you take a ratio of medals to head of population, we're unsurpassed.  

And let's be honest, it's been a long time coming. And there have been so many disappointments. Not just to our Olympic ambitions, but to our sporting dreams in general. We've had world champions, of course we have. But the past few days, going back to the Tour de France, have allowed the people of Britain to celebrate our achievements. But we've all felt the pressure in the build up. And we've been there before. Our teams in football and in rugby have disappointed in recent tournaments. Although the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish might scoff that this is just an English problem. 

But the thing is, here in Britain, we've all done the losing bit ad nauseum. We've proved we can do that well enough. We've been on the receiving end of bad luck, bad decisions and just plain bad form. We've become used to things going wrong. We're the perenniel nearly nation. The almost-weres. The if-onlies. 

And we've been a tad afraid of looking forward to the sporting side of the Olympics. Until we started to compete. Until we started to win medals. A lot gets said about the importance of knowing how to be a good loser. We Brits are fine with that. We've been doing it for years. 

The trick, for us, has been to learn how to win 'well'. And Team GB's recent Gold Rush has shown us how. As it happened, we took to it rather easily. If this Olympics has taught us anything, it's that we can win and that we can win spectacularly. We can win well and we can celebrate too. We know how to arrange an opening ceremony, how to make our visitors welcome, but also how to win medals. We've never been afraid of cheering on our team. And now we know we're not afraid of showing off a bit too. Of winding up our sporting rivals. The Australians, the French, just a little bit. Just on the playful side of goading.
There's been a lot of fun in both the social, and official, media. Much of it, it should be noted, at the expense of our Australian cousins. It might seem a trifle boastful. It might even seem just a little bit rude. And it certainly, even to us, seems a tad un-British. But, do you know what? I think we've learned that it's fun. And I think we might have learned how to do it from the Australians themselves. We might even be better at it. On the evidence of the last few days, some might argue that the Australian media, at least, have easily managed to out-whinge the Poms, so why not?
So, lest you be from one of those less fortunate sporting nations, and be tempted to whine and moan and throw around a few wild accusations, heed the words of former US-President Richard Nixon (a man who knew a thing or two about losing): "The mark of a good loser is that he takes his anger out on himself, and not his victorious opponents." 
Wise words and I'm afraid, for now at least, if you're Australian, you're going to have to put up with just a teeny bit of crowing. You know what it's like. You've done it to us in the past. And one day, you'll do it again. Maybe even next week. But for now, it's our turn. Just close your eyes, it'll be easier that way.