Who do you think should win BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2015?

The shortlist for BBC Sports Personality of the Year has been announced this evening.  It looks really competitive and there are some brilliant characters who have achieved outstandingly this year.

To see a run-down of the contenders click this link to the BBC.

 

Life outside the Olympics

The wife and the daughter are having a little boogie on Just Dance which prevents me from watching the Paralympics.  Was at a loose end for a few moments having had the European Champs, Olympics, start of the football season and now the Paralympics to keep me occupied all summer.  So I went on a bit of a browse round some of the links from my blog and quickly remember a whole stimulating world of innovation, learning and observation that I had forgotten about.

The sport has been pretty inspiring this year but it all takes place in a big bubble that doesn’t transfer too easily into the real world.  After a week down in London at the start of August I returned to life in the West Midlands and realised there are whole bunch of people who don’t give a monkeys about Sheffield’s finest heptathlete or a sideburned hero from Wigan.  They have much more pressing matters to think about like trying to scrounge a few cigarettes, wondering whether to get another abortion or whether they’d be sleeping on a bench, sofa or bed that night.

So, sports junkies, there is another world out there.  Don’t forget to engage your brain with it or pay attention to those who might need a bit deeper support than ‘our greatest team’.

True Medal Count?

A few times during the Olympics our ever enthusiastic BBC TV and radio presenters commented that we were on top of the medals table when you consider the number of medals we won in proportion to the size of the country.  I noticed Hungary were doing well, and that New Zealand had a handful of medals, and I knew that their populations were significantly smaller than that from which Team GB sourced its talent from.  I couldn’t help myself, the statistics obsessed nerd within got the better of me and I did some number crunching and worked out how many golds and how many medals overall other countries would have won proportionally if they had the same population as the UK.

Number of Golds Won

1.   USA  –  46
2.   China  –  38
3.   GB  –  29
4.   Russia  –  24

Number of Golds Won Proportionally

1.   Grenada  –  593
2.   Bahamas  –  176
3.   Jamaica  –  92
11. GB  –  29
25. Russia  –  10
28. USA  –  9
48. China  –  2

Total Medals Won

1.   USA  –  104
2.   China  –  87
3.   Russia  –  84
4.   GB  –  65

Total Medals Won Proportionally 

1.   Grenada  –  593
2.   Jamaica  –  276
3.   Trinidad & Tobago  –  189
10. Montenegro  –  100
23. GB  –  65
33. Russia  –  37
49. USA  –  21
74. China  –  4

So, a lot of countries in reality did even better than the wonderful Team GB.  That’s not a bad thing, just nice to know that there must be a lot of very satisfied sports fans out there from other nations!  If you want to know how other countries fared let me know and I’ll happily divulge more numbers.

However, there were six countries with bigger populations than the UK who didn’t manage a single medal between them. They are Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Philippines, Vietnam and Congo and together they have double the population of the United States.  I think this is sobering and should remind us that for a vast percentage of the world’s population there are not the resources to put into enjoying the Olympics.  As the celebrations die down we need to remember that there are things in this world that should take a higher priority than sport.

The long road to team success

Rumour abounds that certain Olympic sports are going to get their funding cut.

Every match lost.  Will it be handball?  Low medal tally.  Will it be swimming?  No one made a final.  What about the sprinters?  Successful rowers are interviewed and say if a sport doesn’t achieve then it can’t expect to keep the funding.

GB handball pushed aside by mighty Angola

I would like to put in a mini pitch to keep the support for the Olympic team sports that we performed ‘poorly’ in – handball, water polo, volleyball and basketball.    They are all incredibly complex sports that you cannot learn in four years.  For a team to become Olympic champions in one of these sports you will need a couple of squad members with well over a decade of top international experience and the rest of the team need to have learnt the sport from childhood.  You don’t get that with 4 years funding, we’re going to have to invest in these sports from the top to the bottom for decades.  We need to recognise now that it will take a lot of money because it would be an absolute waste of money to refund only for another four years and then cut it.

On the other hand you could put a bit of money into scientific somatotype spotting and pluck out some physiological freaks who could make potential world class rowers.  Stick them in a boat for 4 years and get them to practice pulling and you’ve got yourself an Olympic champion.  But let’s not pull the funding on the team sports just because they didn’t ‘succeed’ this time round.  They really had an impossible task just to win one match.

Will there be a legacy for GB water polo and their dressing gowns?

Rowing, sitting on horses and sailing are very elitist sports.  The team sports are so much more accessible and with a fraction of the money squirted in at grassroots level you could get yourself a hoard of wonderful community and school based handball and volleyball clubs.  Obviously, even if we succeed it wouldn’t have much effect on the medal table.  A generation of investment in water polo might give us one bronze medal every 12 years, if we’re lucky, compared to multiple ways to swim, ride, run, row and sail to Olympic glory.  But, believe it or not, it’s not all about the medal table.

What sports would you cut, or re-fund?  And why?

10 reasons to love Montenegro

1. Mountains.  They climb up to 2500m, they pour down straight into the sea, they deliver spectacular views as you drive through them and even when you’re walking in town everytime you lift you’re eyes they’re there in front of you.

2. Hardly anybody speaks English. This gives such an authentic experience of a country.  If you’re going to make the most of Montenegro you have to get stuck in, make some embarrassing mistakes (one Easter whilst tring to decline an egg I managed to say something along the lines of my balls don’t work!) but it really helps you understand the people and culture.

3. Sexism.  I am prohibited from doing the washing up (due to gender).

4. Children run.  I really think we don’t see enough children running around freely in the UK.  Few things give me more enjoyment than seeing little children run just for fun.  In Montenegro you come across a lot more kids playing in the street and they do a lot more training for competetive sports.  Rada’s niece is only 10 years old and training four or five times a week for basketball.  I went to watch a couple of days ago and some of the lads there can seriously shoot some hoops!

5. Rambo Amadeus. Check this out for a quality Eurovision entry from Rambo Amadeus this year!  Come on UK lets get behind Montenegro when it’s time for the voting later in the year 🙂  The lyrics are in English you just have to listen carefully.

6. Wood smoke.  Whenever I catch the aroma of wood smoke in England I can close my eyes and feel like I am taken straight back to Montenegro.  Almost everyone burns wood for heating and cooking and I love the smell as you walk the streets.

7. Strong communities and families.  I am sure there are other countries who have equally strong communities and families but I have never personally experienced it like I do in Montenegro.  I love getting involved in and witnessing the little things – calling cousin to pick us up in his taxi, shovelling dung for the communal vegetable patch, helping Ujak (uncle from mother’s side) unload breeze blocks from the lorry for his house he’s building himself.

8.  Food and drink.  I am fed and watered ridiculously well in Montenegro.  Every visit is accompanied with choice of drink (beer or rakija are the expected options for men) followed by a great spread or main meal.  Montenegrins are so hospitable!

9. Soaps.  The soap operas shown in Montenegro are hilarious.  Usually courtesy of Turkey, Mexico or India each one is guaranteed to have someone in a coma, an over the top wedding, a kidnapping and emotive orchestra music.  I don’t understand most of what goes on but that just makes them even funnier to watch.

10. Finally, a very personal reason – Montenegro is where I met my wife so all over the place I find great memories rekindled of those first weeks together and many memorable visits since then.

Top class Montenegro

The new FIFA World Rankings came out today and I am so chuffed.  Because England are at number 4?  Noooo!

Look who’s jumped up to become the 16th best nation in the world at football…..

…it’s Montenegro!  🙂

http://www.fifa.com/worldfootball/ranking/lastranking/gender=m/fullranking.html

They really deserve this they are still on the same points as England in the qualifying for Euro 2012 yet have such a tiny population.  A great achievement.

Elsewhere Montenegro’s women’s basketball team are the only unbeaten team going into the Quarter Finals of the European Championships tonight.  The winners get automatic qualification for the Olympics so I’m pretty excited about that too.

In 2006 Montenegro seceded from Serbia & Montenegro and I’m delighted that they have the character and talent to go beyond their potential and succeed on the world stage.

X-Factor v Sports Personality

I’m really chuffed with the results.  I’m chuffed Jessica Ennis was voted 3rd – she’s a great athlete and she’s from my club so I guess I’m biased.  Must have been an incredible event for her in Sheffield.

I’m pleased that Jenson Button didn’t win, he’s done amazing things this year but no way near deserving to be the winner.

And it was great watching Ryan Giggs receive the award.  I loved the humility that he hadn’t bothered to rehearse a winner’s speach.  He was utterly stunned!

In my opinion, in comparison to X-Factor, Sports Personality is one of the most inspiring moments of the year.  When you look at the collection of sports stars, what they have achieved, what they have been through to achieve it and the legacy they leave, it really makes Olly and Joe (as good as they may be) look like an over-hyped pair of karaoke wannabes.

But to be honest, that is my opinion.  I have always loved sport and disliked pop music.  What is important, whether you watch X-Factor or Sports Personality of the Year, is that you are inspired by normal people who have taken their opportunities and achieved their dreams.  That is something we can all do.