I've always had a competitive streak, but as I have zero hand-eye coordination, this is usually confined to tests of general knowledge rather than sporting challenges. I may be a whiz in a quiz, but on the field, I am not so much an also-ran as a never-ran-at-all.
Despite this – or perhaps because of it – I find the Olympics fascinating. Pick a sport, any sport, and I'm happy to watch, whether the participants are Kazakh weightlifters, French canoeists or American swimmers. I've always thought too much of an obsession with the medals table introduced a note of cupidity into the spectacle of the world's greatest athletes coming together to test their skill.
Yes, an Olympic gold is an extraordinary achievement, but we ought to be able to celebrate the success of any athlete, regardless of their nationality.
I was thinking about this as I walked across the common on my way to work yesterday. Suddenly, however, I saw six magpies clustered round a litter bin, and any noble considerations flew out of my head. Six for gold! I felt a little jolt of excitement – even though their presence had more to do with a piece of discarded hamburger than any supernatural message.
On the other hand, maybe those magpies knew a thing or two, because by the time I'd got to work, rowers Helen Glover and Heather Stanning had won gold, and Bradley Wiggins followed suit in spectacular fashion, making history in the process. So I make no apology for celebrating Team GB's achievements today.
Helen, Heather and Bradley, we salute you!
Stefano Hatfield is awayFollow @VBackyard
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