These are the moments to inspire the next generation | Blaise Tapp
If a certain Danish lager did sporting summers it would look exactly like this one.
Since June, millions of us have been glued to our screens thanks to the exertions of footballers, athletes, boxers, cyclists, martial artists, and swimmers to name just a few.
Over the course of six weeks or so British sporting history has been made by so many, even if on the odd painful occasion, it has ended in heartbreak, usually at the hands of an Italian.
Like many others, I’ve become expert at analysing the performances of elite sportsmen and women in an array of sports including diving, taekwondo, showjumping, and even skateboarding achieving all of this after just 10 minutes of watching from the comfort of my well-worn armchair.
There was a time when inspired by what I’d just witnessed, I would take myself down the local rec and attempt to replicate the achievements of the likes of Diego Maradona, Boris Becker, and Linford Christie, even though I wasn’t ever able to leg it more than 15 yards before slipping in something disgusting.
That’s the magic of great sporting moments – they inspire the next generation to get off the sofa and attempt to emulate their heroes.
Of course, the vast majority don’t possess either the talent or the dedication and end up back in front of the telly eating family packets of Wotsits while appraising the artistic merit of a Bulgarian gymnast’s floorshow.
But a select few do make it and the Olympics, in particular, have presented the nation with stirring tales of how unblinking commitment can lead to dreams being fulfilled.
Even the hardest of hearts would’ve been moved by stories such as that of BMX gold medalist Charlotte Worthington, who packed in her job a chef to chase her ambition of performing on the biggest stage Then there was Lauren Price, the multi-talented Welsh boxer, who worked nights as a taxi driver to supplement her income as she trained tirelessly to become only the second British woman to win the top amateur prize in the ring.
These tales of otherwise ordinary people, who don’t come from sporting dynasties or have the benefit of an expensive education, reaching the pinnacle of their chosen sports, ought to be taught in schools across the land as they are as relatable as they are inspiring.
In recent weeks, I’ve been guilty of pushing such narratives down the throats of my two, who while taking more than a passing interest in the sport on the telly, haven’t yet told me that they have Brisbane 2032 firmly in their sights.
While it might be too much for most parents to harbour realistic ambitions of seeing their offspring stand on a podium with a medal around their neck or turn out for their nation in an international final, our young do need role models other than those that they have at home.
Except for the partisan and deranged among us, there is near-universal respect for Marcus Rashford, not just for his prodigious talent on a football pitch, but for the fact that he’s chosen to use his fame and status to benefit those who, like him, have had a tough start in life.
I grew up in the ’80s and ’90s and many of my heroes were mavericks, some of whom didn’t train too hard, liked a pint and sneaked in a fag before they performed in front of adoring fans.
In general terms, the elite sportsmen and women of the 21st century are a different breed and will use the platforms they are given to good effect.
In recent weeks sporting immortals such as the US gymnast Simone Biles and our very own Adam Peaty, have openly discussed their own mental health, making it very clear that there is no need to sacrifice every inch of one’s self to achieve greatness.
Hopefully, this has been a sporting summer that will inspire children everywhere.