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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

 

In Sickness and in Health: 'I'm really happy to be alive and to see Rebecca'

Rebecca Armstrong
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine