Social Science blog

Exploring Social Science at the British Library

27 July 2010

Recognition at last!

I’m absolutely certain that one of the results of London 2012 will be that sports which have not been seen as mainstream or ‘interesting’ by the Press will become enormously popular in the UK as a result of their exposure at the Games. My guess is that one of the greatest beneficiaries of this process will be Triathlon, which has grown exponentially as a sport for grass roots athletes and professionals alike over the past 5 years but which has never really been given the media exposure it deserves, even though British competitors are right at the top of the game. This struck me particularly when Norfolk-born Chrissie Wellington became World Ironman Champion for three successive years (in 2007, 2008 and 2009) breaking world records right, left and centre in a sport which demands almost superhuman effort and dedication. Blowed if I could find anything much on the back pages of the UK Press at the time, though! (Chrissie’s blog is at ). The good news is that she was the Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year for 2009, so belated recognition finally arrived.


Sunday saw an incredibly exciting finish in the Hyde Park international triathlon event when Javier Gomez of Spain won a tremendously hard fought final leg against the two Brownlee brothers from the UK. Alastair Brownlee’s faltering approach to the line as he succumbed to exhaustion was caught dramatically on BBC television, and need it be said that all this was ten times more thrilling and moving than England’s progress through the FIFA World Cup which earned all those column inches.


My secret spectator sport addiction is handball, which is enormously popular on the Continent but rarely - if ever - gets a look-in here. I first saw this sport on the Eurosport channel in a hotel in Cologne, and found it amazing to watch the players hanging in the air while taking aim at the goal.


So all power to the elbows of those sports, and to those neglected world champions

who languish away from the media glare. I’m banking on 2012 to give them their chance to shine.


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