Tuesday, 7 August 2012

What's Good about the Olympics (and Globalisation)

It has been a euphoric few days for followers of British sport, and the media have been full of celebration. The effects on national morale, dented by the recession, have been very positive, and the whole population has joined in making the Olympics a huge success.

But for me the most exciting thing has been to see athletes from very small, poor countries, with few facilities, winning medals in events that they could not even have entered 20 years ago. For instance, Kirali James's win in the 400 metres race yesterday evening was the first medal of any kind gained by his island nation, Grenada. The runner placed second was from the Dominican Republic.

John Inverdale pointed out that all the runners in that race, traditionally dominated by the USA, Germany and Britain, were either from small Caribbean countries, or from one family in Belgium (the Borlee twins, Kevin and Jonathan). In the wide world of sport, it sometimes come down to the very local and particular.

Similarly, the 400 metres hurdles was won by a 34-year-old guy from the Dominican Republic (again), beating three American superstars and the British world champion and team captain, David Greene. It was a triumph for someone not tipped for a medal.

Globalisation has destroyed the economies of many small nations, and eroded the cultures of more. But it has also given a few individuals from the most obscure communities (even in Belgium) the chance to show that talent is not confined to the rich world.

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