Archie Bland: Unlike footballers, our Olympic stars keep it real

FreeView from the editors at i

Share
Related Topics

It's a tough call because they're all so great, but in the end it was a simple thing that secured our rowing gold medallist Kate Copeland her presumably treasured status as my favourite Olympian: a picture she posted of herself on Twitter in which she is dressed as a bunny rabbit.

It is hard to imagine Kevin Pietersen or Maria Sharapova posing for something similar; if they did, their agents would presumably start carping about image rights. Not Kate, who is right up there with irrepressible cyclist Laura Trott and daddy's boy clay pigeon-shooter Peter Wilson (who broke off from a BBC interview to give his old man a hug) as the unaffected heart of Team GB.

Think, too, of the barnstorming Brownlee brothers, gold and bronze winners in the frankly lunatic triathlon yesterday, who live together in the Leeds suburb of Bramhope, where Alistair dug the hole for their very own swimming pool in the back garden. It is hard to imagine Gary and Phil Neville ever doing the same.

It is these normal gestures that explain why we love them: because they spend most of their time labouring in total obscurity, these supreme athletes react as you or I might when a microphone is thrust under their noses shortly after winning. It's not the fault of footballers that they react differently to success and failure (really – anyone stuck in that goldfish bowl and paid millions would be the same) but it is hard to deny that they come off badly in the comparison.

And so, everyone says, we need some new heroes: let's elevate charmers like Ennis, Rutherford and Farah above those millionaire playboys who can't even win a penalty shoot-out. It would be nice, wouldn't it. Sadly, it doesn't work that way. We can idolise these people for more than a couple of weeks every four years if we want, but if we do so, they won't be the same people at the end of it.

Buy their calendars, read their hastily penned autobiographies, sure; but don't expect them to see them dressed as woodland animals in four years' time. It's not that I wish Copeland and Co ill, but the less I hear about them before Rio, the better: I like them far too much to hope for anything else.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Manager - £50,000

£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The law is too hard on sexting teenagers

Memphis Barker
 

Obama must speak out – Americans are worried no one is listening to them

David Usborne
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?

Some couples are allowed emergency hospital weddings, others are denied the right. Kate Hilpern reports on the growing case for a compassionate cutting of the red tape
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit