I imagine many people grow up wanting to be their sporting heroes. I have admired and wanted to emulate dozens over the years: Mike Teague, Jonah Lomu, Daley Thompson, Curtly Ambrose, Nigel Benn. I would have happily swapped places with any of them. Except, of course, I lacked almost all of the pre-requisites to be a great sportsman. Firstly, dedication. I like playing sport, but I should think Olympians are created from greater training regimes than two mile runs with a rewarding ice cream to finish. Secondly, actual sporting ability. I love playing cricket, but if I exchanged places with James Anderson, test matches would never finish as I bowled endless but enthusiastic overs of aerial wides and no-balls skidding past third slip. Thirdly, hugely unrealistic expectations. I remember lying in bed as a fourteen year old planning a training regime that would see me play for England in four years’ time. Simple as that. Draw up a list of exercises, do some mental preparation, and there you have it. Or not as it turned out. I did play for the county twice, but as far as I remember that was mostly down to the rest of Cambridgeshire being injured. Otherwise, a sporting career of many lowlights.
Luckily, imbued with a ridiculous optimism, this year I will watch the Olympics with renewed enthusiasm, watching for that event that my aging frame can still win. Maybe there is a discipline that requires nothing more than a bit of enthusiasm and some moderate practice? After all, Cool Runnings was based on a true story.