Sunday, 20 May 2012

Everyone a winner

It's been quite a good couple of weekends for teams which our family variously support. Outstanding for me was the victory of our local Formula 1 team, Williams F1, who are based in Grove, at the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona. I got quite animated! Our Manchester family are City supporters. I suspect they were on tenterhooks last Sunday, when it looked as though their team was about to lose to QPR - a close shave, I think you might say. And we have a long-term faithful Chelsea fan. His comment about last night's match was: "In reality football is a pretty meaningless game but right now?! Right now, I've never loved it more." (And, all right, I admit that getting rid of their previous manager may have proved a good move. It will be interesting to see what Roman Abramovich does with his most successful "caretaker manager", Roberto di Matteo.)  

Life's not only sport of course. Sport may be pretty meaningless (though it's arguable that it's a harmless sublimation of international or internal aggression), but to be really good at it does require a lot of hard work. I was interested by an item by Matthew Syed on Radio 4, where he argued that champions are not born, but made. He has five times Commonwealth table tennis champion and is now a sports writer for The Times. He wrote a book, Bounce - How Champions are made, of which you get a taste in the YouTube clip: Matthew Syed talking. It's certainly true that artists like the young cellist Laura van der Heijden achieve their level of accomplishment by dint of a great deal of practice. Her final performance for BBC Young Musician achieved something remarkable, holding me to listen and enjoy a piece way outside my comfort zone, Walton's Cello Concerto. And I'm sure, on a much less serious level, Pudsey's performance on BGT involved a lot of hard work on Ashleigh's part. (By the way, looking at Laura's website and the age at which she clearly outstanding, I don't think Matthew Syed's thesis is 100% correct.)

from ITV
from Laura's website
Left: Laura van der Heijden who won BBC Young Musician of the Year 2012 Right: Ashleigh Butler with her mongrel Pudsey who won ITV's Britain's Got Talent 2012

from Williams F!
 Left: Pastor Maldonado who won the Spanish Grand Prix last week for our local team, Williams F1.
from Manchester City
Right: Roberto Mancini, manager of Manchester City, who won the Premier League last Sunday - by the skin of their teeth.

from BBC
from Yahoo
 Left: Helen Jenkins who emphatically won the World Triathlon Series (swim, cycle, run) in San Diego on Saturday, as did Jonny Brownlee. By the way, local girl Jessica Harrison, who now competes for France, came fourth. Right: Didier Drogba, man of the match, for Chelsea who remarkably won the European Champions League Cup last night - by the skin of their teeth. He scored the decisive penalty in the penalty shoot-out. The picture shows him comforting Bastian Schweinsteiger, who missed the last penalty for Bayern Munich. Previously he'd done the same for Arjen Robben (also in the picture), whose penalty in extra time could have won it for Bayern. 

Sometimes he is traduced for acting on the pitch. There's no doubt in my mind that he's an exceptional striker. Before watching the match I hadn't perceived much more. I had noticed that his first reaction when he's scored a goal is to cross himself. During the final, I observed him on his knees in the penalty shoot-out, but most significantly for me was the way, while the rest of his team were absorbed in their own delirium of celebration, he was aware of their opponents' bitter disappointment and took time to show it. And he really did give them time. My estimation of him as a big man rose. It seemed to me that his faith might make a difference.

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