The genius of Mo Farah was only underscored by the plodding stupidity of Downing Street’s statements about the “All Must Have Prizes” culture this weekend.
If this is the culture which produced Mo Farah then surely we should be celebrating it. But the truth is that it doesn’t exist and never has done. How does David Cameron think we managed to get 28 gold medals if not through the promotion of competitive sport in schools? Mo Farah attended an inner city comprehensive his talent was spotted and encouraged. What’s wrong with that?
Considering the scale of the success of London 2012, it’s no surprise that there have been attempts from both ends of the political spectrum to claim this Olympics for their side. It is a rather pointless game to play. Are team sports more socialist and individual events more capitalist? Who cares? One rather obvious thing is certain – if you want to win, you need to find the best talent and encourage it – lessons could certainly be learnt in other areas of public life. But the Olympics are not the moment for politicians to give lessons on how to encourage sporting excellence. Quite the opposite.
The flatfooted Downing Street statement on school sport is no real surprise from this increasingly weary government.
Here’s an idea – why not send underperforming cabinet ministers to learn about organisation, leadership and inspiration from our cycling, sailing, rowing, boxing, equestrian and athletics teams. A little more humility and a little less lecturing is in order right now.