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Forget Team GB

Written by Benny's Rugby Coaching

11 months ago

As great as the Olympics are in bringing countries together and giving the world a two week break from the reality of life, the idea behind Team GB essentially slows the growth of sports throughout the UK and does not represent how the majority of the population identifies themselves as.

At the opening ceremony not too long ago, Team GB marched out in emphatic fashion as they usually do. However, I was quite surprised to see Andy Murray as the flag bearer for Team GB. The reason for this is he campaigned for Scottish independence during the Scottish independence referendum two years ago. This clearly shows he doesn't believe in the union between England, Wales, and Scotland. 

This begs the question as to why he was chosen as the flag bearer. I will not deny his ability as a tennis player and the fact he became the first Olympian to win two tennis gold medals. However, he doesn't consider himself British and should not be forced to represent Britain as a result. The fact that he chose to bear the British flag makes me question his morals. 

I believe the flag bearer should have been someone who believes in the union between England, Wales, and Scotland and not someone who has stated his beliefs in bringing Great Britain apart. 

The option is there for Olympic athletes who do not believe in the team they represent, there is an Independent Athletes team for this very reason.

What I think would be a better option for everyone, however, would be to use a Commonwealth Games type approach with England, Wales, and Scotland having their own separate Olympic teams and committees. The 2011 census found that the majority of England, Scotland, and Wales identified themselves only as English, Scottish, and Welsh (60%, 62%, 58%) respectively. The fact of the matter is most people do not identify as British nowadays and finding an athlete that does is becoming increasingly difficult.

The Olympics is the only event in which England, Wales, and Scotland participate as one team and I believe it is slowing down the growth of sport in places such as Wales and Scotland where less funding is available. If an Olympic committee was set up in Wales and Scotland the growth of sports such as Hockey in Wales would increase exponentially. At the moment, Hoci Wales aims to send only two hockey players to compete for Team GB. I believe this undersells the potential of Welsh hockey and thus slows the growth of the sport there. This example applies to other sports including Rugby Sevens where the Welsh Sevens squad severely under performs when compared with their 15's counterparts.

I hope in the future we can see an English, Welsh, and Scottish team participating at the Olympics in the name of sport development and creating an increased sense in national pride. The Olympics is not about who can get the most medals, it is about the individual and the teams who have dedicated their lives to achieving at the highest level. It is not a political contest to see which countries have the most money to spend on sport. The Olympics is a celebration of human achievement, not how many medals your country can acquire. 

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