Prepare to be excited and enthralled. Over the next few weeks and months there is a feast of Sporting excellence to be enjoyed, so buy your new telly quickly and store up a few snacks and a case of Durham Craft beer ready for the fun and games. Starting Friday 5th August the Rio Olympics begin, a festival of all that is best, hopefully, in World sporting excellence. On 7th August the football season kicks off and the hopes and dreams of fans across the County, and the Country, will be realised or dashed as they follow the activities, on and off the field of play, with great interest. Further, on 7th September the Para Olympics begins with less able-bodied athletes of the Global community taking part.
One hopes that the Olympic Games are clean, and safe, and that all of the athletes from Britain achieve their full potential. Be honest, we love it when our athletes come home with Gold, Silver and Bronze medals, what an inspiration for our children and grand-children? When Andy Murray won Wimbledon the first time, and followed on with Olympic Gold, the uptake of tennis in schools was substantial. When our youngsters see the likes of Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Bradley Wiggins, Sir Ben Ainslie, and Ellie Simmonds one can only hope that they will be motivated to be there on the podium next time around.
Our local professional football teams will be fighting for survival, promotion, and honours over the next ten months, with a new manager finding his way along the A19 to Sunderland, and Newcastle United will begin a determined season in which they aim to return to the top flight of English football. Best of luck to all of our teams for the new season.
For those of us who love to see British grit at its best we recommend taking look at the Para Olympics in September. An athlete was asked, “How long did it take to get to Rio?’ She answered, ‘Twelve years.’ Those of us who have had County level swimmers in the family will know that those kids swim ‘in lanes’ from 6am to 8am before going to school every day of the week. Athletes can be seen around County Durham running and jogging at similar times, up with the birds. Training is long and hard. Consider then the discipline and self-belief, plus blood sweat and tears, that are required for a Para Olympian to become an elite athlete, these indomitable characters are worthy of the highest praise. For me, they are probably more impressive than able bodied athletes in that they have overcome circumstances above and beyond what the rest of us couch athletes could ever comprehend in order to succeed. Amazing.
We wish good fortune to all of our sports people for 2016/2017 and hope that they do well, and that they inspire the next generation of youngsters to emulate them.
Right, remote control ready, shopping trips banned for a fortnight, bottle opener ready, crisps opened, centre page pull out spread sheets ready, bring it on!