Natalie Haynes: No one can steal the thunder from wonderful Bradley 'Wiggo' Wiggins


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The Independent Online

Record-breaking gold-medal wins are all well and good. But Bradley Wiggins hasn't had things all his own way. The poor man came out of the gym earlier this week to find his kit had been pinched. The Foxhills Hotel in Surrey, where Team GB's cyclists are camped, suggested that "cycling fever" was to blame, and that "an over-zealous fan has scored a fantastic London 2012 souvenir". You'll note the use of the word "scored" to convey "stolen", presumably because they don't want their hotel to be linked in the public mind with thieves. No such worries beset Wiggins, though, who tweeted: "Watch your kit at the Foxhills spa … there is a tea-leaf about." I think this summarises exactly what I like about him: a man who uses a spa and cockney rhyming slang in a single sentence. I call that a win.

No man is an island, except for Phelps

Michael Phelps has become the most successful Olympian of all time. At least, he has if you measure these things in medals, because he now has 19, 15 of which are gold. To put that in perspective, Phelps is practically a country, having won more Olympic medals than Croatia, and more Olympic golds than Jamaica. It is undeniably easier for a swimmer to win lots of medals than for, say, the decathletes, who must now be thinking they won't get a chance to level up unless they get a medal for each discipline. Or, ideally, two medals. But it is still an astonishing achievement to which Phelps might yet add before the Olympics are over. He has three more events to go: think what a nice symmetrical number 22 is.

China's woeful lack of shuttle diplomacy

I like badminton, as it is one of the few racquet sports I have ever played with even the tiniest degree of success (though only because the court isn't very big, and I am quite tall, so I can reach a fair bit of it while standing still). But it is the laughing stock of this year's Olympics. The early rounds of the badminton are no longer a knock-out system, like the tennis, which means the incentive to win each match is considerably reduced. The new "group stage" system led to the extraordinary sight of China and South Korea serving into the net on Tuesday because they both wanted to lose their matches to avoid playing tough pairs in the next stage. Now eight players in the women's doubles have been disqualified.

The disqualification has proved controversial because it raises the question of whether wanting to lose is the same as cheating. Perhaps it isn't, but if spectators are paying to watch a match, then the players surely have an obligation to try and win it. Sport is entertainment, after all.

Our first golden girls do us proud

In the run-up to London 2012, it has sometimes been hard to remember what Olympic spirit is: the athletes and the sport have too often got lost beneath corporate self-interest. But that was before Helen Glover and Heather Stanning wiped the lake with the competition in the rowing. It was a big moment for British spectators, because it was our first gold medal. But it was also a great story: no British women had ever won rowing gold before, and impossibly, Glover only took up the sport in 2008.

In their moment of triumph, before returning to shore, they kept waving their weary arms in delight. The cameras pulled back, to show who they were waving at: all the volunteers (I can't bring myself to call them by their official title – Games makers – as this isn't Game Of Thrones) who have helped everyone out all week. That would be the Olympic spirit right there.