I suppose it had to happen. One of the finest performances at the Athens Olympics this year couldn’t even get cycling on the media and public map. Sure, Kelly Holmes deserved the win but the also rans were slightly bizarre.
Bradley Wiggins’ achievement at the games was truly astonishing yet he was almost ignored last night. It was 1908 when the last British athlete won three medals at one games. It shocked me that he didn’t even make the final five. Chris Hoy’s Gold got about 2 seconds. The team pursuit squad about the same. And Steve Peat’s second MTB World Cup win? not even a mention.
Lance Armstrong’s record sixth tour win after recovering from near fatal cancer couldn’t even get him the overseas personality, that went to Roger Federer, a tennis player. Unbelievable.
Then the feature on Paula Radcliffe’s debâcle really pushed me over the edge. Here’s a woman who bottled it in the marathon, then the 10,000 metres and she gets more coverage than the medallists from the games?! A full feature on a loser, sums up British sport really.
I am well aware that this is a public vote and before I get a roasting for criticising the public I can’t blame them as it’s all we get from the media. Sports stories are usually about Paula Radcliffe’s failures, Wayne Roony’s shopping trips and a sweaty darts player being unable to continue a match because he is too fat…
Yes, I know that I’m very cycling-biased, but the reason cycling is permanently pushed to the back of the queue is that the mainstream media is dominated by a few select ‘sports’ (sorry but snooker, darts and horse racing are not sports in my book) and the others don’t even get a look in. And boxing, cricket and rowing are real participation sports? I don’t think so. Cycling is the next most popular sport (to football) with children and is increasing in popularity.
So cycling deserves more coverage yet the mainstream media will constantly push other more fortunate, exclusive and predominantly UK-only sports ahead of it. Why? Well mainly because it’s the sports they have played or worked in and there are clearly no open-minded journalists working in TV and the press. The team award going to rowing, rather than the 100 metres relay team speaks volumes about who produces and watches the programme – I should have turned it off.
An Olympic Gold medal is a wonderful opportunity for cycling to move forward. I thought when Chris Boardman won Gold in Barcelona things would get better for cycling and they certainly did for our elite cyclists – as Sydney and Athens showed – but not really for cycling as a whole. It may seem an irrelevant rant but I’m sure if cyclists were on the TV more often we’d all get better treatment on the roads too (and I know we got a lot of coverage at the games – I’m talking about year-round). The media could cover other sports like cycling but it chooses not to. I’m beginning to think the late great Tommy Simpson will be the one and only ever cycling winner of this award: in those days the sports media was clearly more open-minded.