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.)
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!|
|from Manchester City|
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.