Drunk athletes: Faster, higher… boozier

Who can begrudge winning athletes a post-victory bender? Just wait until you're off the podium

After winning Olympic gold in 2004, Bradley Wiggins went on a bender. He drank. He put on weight. "I'd lived so religiously in the run-up to Athens," he admitted, "that I just wanted to feel normal again." Today the cycling superstar is older, wiser and weighed down not by body mass, but by medals. Yet that didn't prevent him enjoying a drink or six on Wednesday, following his historic time-trial win. "Blind drunk at the minute," he tweeted, sharing a photo of himself, vodka in hand. Meanwhile, yesterday's gold winner, shooter Peter Wilson, announced: "I'm going to get very, very drunk and probably do something silly." Who'd begrudge them a bender now?

Good humour greeted the sight of a well-oiled England cricket team, fresh from Ashes victory in 2005, stumbling into Downing Street, where, according to Freddie Flintoff's memoir: "The only contact [he] had with the Blairs… was asking Cherie where the toilet was." But there's a time and a place for drunken celebration and this is true for sportspeople more than most. Flintoff was sacked as England's vice-captain two years later, following the notorious "pedalo incident" in the West Indies.

The England rugby squad were reprimanded for their behaviour during the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand last year. While their dwarf-tossing and ferry-jumping antics were unbecoming, they might have been forgiven had they taken place after the tournament – especially if England had won it.

"We were really diligent about all the little things that go into a performance," says Steve Trapmore, who won a rowing gold in the coxed eights at the Sydney Games. "We had a saying: 'Will what we're about to do make the boat go faster?' Unfortunately going out and getting plastered doesn't help."

When a sportsperson's hard work and discipline are rewarded with victory, they're celebrated for getting sozzled. If they jeopardise their chances with a pre-game booze-up, they're a disgrace. For every Darren Clarke downing a Guinness (as the golfer did after his British Open triumph in 2011), there's a footballer falling out of a nightclub.

The Olympics, perhaps unsurprisingly, is a rich source of stories of both alcohol-fuelled celebration and drunken shame. Australian rower Joshua Booth was arrested in the early hours of yesterday morning after allegedly causing "damage to a shop front"; his team failed to win a medal on Wednesday. Nick Green, Australia's Olympic Commission chef de mission, said: "We understand there was alcohol involved."

Twas ever thus: at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, British runner Chris Brasher came first in the 3,000-metre steeplechase, was disqualified for interfering with another runner and a day later re-instated and awarded the gold.

"After the appeal committee re-instated me," Brasher recalled, "I went for a liquid lunch with the British media. I recall being drunk on the podium and nearly falling flat on my face as I leant forward, an IOC man attempting to hang a medal around my neck."

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
News
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
arts + entsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker