A Star Is Born?

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by Patrick O’Connor

THERE is a mood swing taking place amongst the British public which over the last couple of weeks has been given a massive nudge by the Olympic Games.

Could it be that we are beginning to see through the King’s clothes?

Could it be that we are beginning to realise that hype should not take precedence over substance, that fame comes through hard work and dedication and not by just turning up at the right party.

Only last week the England football team, full of overpaid, over-exposed prima donnas, was held to a 2-2 draw by the Czech Republic. The England team, including Frank Lampard, the recipient of recently awarded new £150,000 a week contract by Chelsea, was exposed as being short of talent, application and imagination and fans and media let them know it in no uncertain terms.

As a breed, the elite of English football are identified by the cars they own, the women hanging onto their arms and how many tattoos they display.

Meanwhile, the general public discovered new heroes and heroines. Beamed daily from Beijing, the Olympic Games saw Team GB achieve enormous success and TV viewers are now fully aware of the likes of Chris Hoy (cycling), Rebecca Adlington (swimming), Tom Daly (diving), Christine Ohuruoghu (400 metres), Shanaze Reade (BMX) and Tim Brabants (kayak).

Some of these relatively impoverished sportsmen and women have competed against the world’s best and have not been found wanting.

Team GB turned in the best Olympic performance for 100 years! Their 47 medal haul included 19 gold, 13 silver and 15 bronze. They will fully deserve their victory parade in London on October 16.

Their lives have been dominated by a desire to reach a mental and physical peak and perform to their maximum when it really matters.

And because of their efforts many of the so-called fringe sports have attracted new enthusiasts.

Normally, as soon as the Games have finished and the spotlight is turned off, many of these athletes and their achievements fade into the background. But that may not be the case this time.

For as we all know, the next Olympic Games will be in London in 2012. The marketing men are already scratching their heads to try and match the spectacular show put on by the Chinese and you can bet that every effort will be made to keep the names of Hoy, Adlington, Ohoruoghu etc in the headlines.

How ironic it would be if our footballers were overshadowed by doctors, 14 year old divers and BMX riders!

Mind you the marketing gurus will have to come up with something far better than the tacky eight minute London contribution made to the closing ceremony in Beijing.

Using a red London bus as the centrepiece after the majestic explosion of colour served up by the Chinese was a disappointment.

The bus then pulled up for a queue of umbrella holding passengers – what sort of message does that send to the rest of the world?

The scene was then invaded by cyclists. So Britain’s cities are all cyclist-friendly are they? Who are they kidding?

And then the bus was converted into a mini-stage for Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page (fair enough) and singer Leona Lewis. Leona Lewis? Is that the best we could come up with – the winner of a TV karaoke contest.

But to cap it all, the 90,000 crowd and the watching millions on television were treated to a real British icon (!) – a gormless looking David Beckham, taking time off from playing ‘showbiz’ soccer in the USA.

Beckham didn’t do or say anything, he just stood there. Much like his and his team mates’ recent performances for the England football team.