SWANNY'S WORLD OF SPORT: I love the Olympics, but it's not the '˜Greatest Show on Earth'

No event with Justin Gatlin in it has the right to call itself '˜the Greatest Show on Earth.'

Friday, 12th August 2016, 8:06 am
Updated Friday, 12th August 2016, 9:10 am
Adam Peaty should win all the sports personality of the year contests.

Hell, no event with dopey cyclist Lizzie Armitstead in it should be so described either.

Drug cheats like American sprinter Gatlin should be banned from the Olympics for life.

Even Brits, like the unrepentant Monaco-based Armitstead, who are stupid enough to miss three drug tests when they should be ultra-careful in the biggest year of their lives, shouldn’t be allowed to compete a few months later.

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Katherine Grainger (right) and her silver medal winning partner Victoria Thornley.

Imagine the furore if a Russian had avoided suspension by employing fancy lawyers. In fact well done to those in charge of the Paralympics who took the honourable decision to ban, in their entirity, countries who indulge in state-sponsored doping.

There’s also no way the pampered millionaires from the world of golf should be taking part in an Olympic Games. If it was an amateur golf event then fair enough, but the Olympics isn’t for those with mansions, fast cars and yachts, even though they’ve won nothing of significance.

It’s the same with tennis. Andy Murray proved in the Davis Cup he’s a supreme patriot, but why on earth was he carrying the GB flag at the opening ceremony?

Why not let someone like unheralded swimmer Hannah Miley have the honour for the considerable feat of competing in her third Olympics. Or rower Katherine Grainger for her multi-medal winning career?

Louis Smith.

I can’t get excited about synchronised diving (well done Daniel Goodfellow for putting up with his publicity-hungry partner so successfully though) either and they dole out too many medals in gymnastics, shooting and cycling.

It’s also true that I will watch the athletics and be suspicious of every winner in every race and throwing event.

And yet I love the Olympics. I watched fencing rather than live Championship football on the TV last Sunday. Not that hard a decision given that second tier football in this country is harder to watch than Piers Morgan’s latest Twitter wind-up/meltdown.

I was transfixed by that cycling road race course with its stunning views and obvious element of danger even though, sadly just like those commentating on it, I had no clue re tactics or the technical expertise required.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has boosted the ego count in the Premier League.

There’s something quite inspiring about watching unknown Brits, who specialise in events I’d never normally watch, bust a gut for their country. Richard Kruse did just that in fencing.

These sportmen are not fancy-dan show-off footballers who kiss club crests with fake sincerity.

There is no danger of our fencers, swimmers and rowers avoiding the opportunity to represent their country because they have a minor knock or there’s not enough money in it for them. If a footballer had fallen like gymnast Ellie Downie he’d have been off for a fortnight ready to have a danger money clause inserted into his contract, rather than back up ready to give their all for their country as Ellie did.

In fact the vast majority of the Olympic team are the perfect antidote to the England football team. Louis Smith, who owes his country nothing, lost in the gymnastics with far more grace than Roy Hodgson managed in the summer.

GB fencer Richard Kruse.

The summer Euros were a joyless affair populated by Englishmen who couldn’t have looked more miserable on and off the pitch.

The GB team in Rio is populated by athletes for whom representing their country is the ultimate experience.

A first swimming men’s gold medal for 28 years and a world record to boot. Performances under pressure don’t come much better than Adam Peaty’s in the 100m breaststroke in Rio. Peaty won the race by a colossal margin and was so impressive he ought to be a shoo-in for Sports Personality of the Year. Even Andy Murray winning Wimbledon doesn’t compare.

With all the staff and public funding at their disposal, you’d have thought the BBC would have employed some experts in even the minority sports.

The fencing exploits of Richard Kruse, the dramatic cycling road races, a table tennis thriller (yes, honestly) and the swimming were marred by employees who believe commentating is just a case of issuing a list of hyperbolic-fuelled statements designed to make every British competitor seem unbeatable.

They’re not commentators. They are patriotic cheerleaders and I don’t like it.

Katherine Grainger (right) and her silver medal winning partner Victoria Thornley.

Another plus for the Olympics is how much easier it will make to avoid the over-hyped return of the narcissists and prima donnas who dominate the Premier League these days.

I didn’t think it would be possible for the Premier League to get any more big-headed, but then Zlatan Ibrahimovic teamed up with Jose Mourinho to groans from all of us who like our heroes to be humble and honest.

I’d rather watch Adam Peaty and Jazz Carlin in action than classless scoundrels like Wayne Rooney and John Terry.

Louis Smith.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has boosted the ego count in the Premier League.
GB fencer Richard Kruse.