Gold fever

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Gold rush! Team Britain sweeps up medal after medal! Best Olympic performance since Paris, 1924! Let's applaud our rowers, runners, shooters and sailors for giving their all for us and giving national morale its biggest shot in the arm (forgive the unfortunate metaphor) since 1966. And while, clearly, the excellent achievements in Sydney are not wholly attributable to New Labour, it cannot, surely, be long before Denise Lewis and her team mates are received at Downing Street.

Gold rush! Team Britain sweeps up medal after medal! Best Olympic performance since Paris, 1924! Let's applaud our rowers, runners, shooters and sailors for giving their all for us and giving national morale its biggest shot in the arm (forgive the unfortunate metaphor) since 1966. And while, clearly, the excellent achievements in Sydney are not wholly attributable to New Labour, it cannot, surely, be long before Denise Lewis and her team mates are received at Downing Street.

Sorry? You detect a hesitation to break out the bunting, even a touch of cynicism? But that is one of the most vital functions of the media. It is our role to point out that Britain has only the fifth most successful team in Europe, and has won only two more silvers than Switzerland.

It is also our role to shake our heads wonderingly both at the skilled purpose of the contestants and at the ability of jingoism to survive Berlin, Munich and Moscow. And to prefer this, from the fag-smoking, loose-lipped, long-haired, long-jumping Australian silver medallist, Jai "The Jump" Taurima: "I gave it a crack... I'm just an average Australian guy having fun."

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