The British Invasion (by Marcus McLaughlin)

Guest correspondent Marcus McLaughlin takes a look at the UK media’s meddling, and the UK’s chances at medalling.

Watch out Canada, Germany, Scandinavia and The U.S. The Brits are here.

And they’re here to kick some…snow. Playfully. With their Hunter wellies. Oh, and to provide the British press with some material other than the exploits of dour government ministers, footballers’ wives or reality TV stars. And did they come, the UK media? Oh yes, in droves. The BBC alone has more personnel at the Games than the nation’s entire 52-member sports team. I mean, we’re talking about a real hunger for sporting heroes. Last month, for example, 28 photographers were sent all the way down to Melbourne to capture history. At the Tennis Australian Open, Scotsman Andy Murray sent the country into collective premature ejaculation when he reached the final and promised to become the first UK Grand Slam winner in 76 years. Did he unseat the mighty Federer and justify the trip for those weary photographers? Well, no. But this illustrates their appetite for a sporting fairytale.

Why then, do you journalists fly over here hell bent on raining down on our snowy parade? For a country that is set to stage the biggest party itself in 2012, I’d expect you to be just a tad more supportive. Then again, no Brit gives a flying headbutt about a story that includes the words “winter” and “sports”.

This just in from my man in England (er…my Dad):

“I don’t think we, as a country will be watching much. The British TV and press haven’t found a native hero or heroine yet to inspire us all.”

Ah, so that’s it. A hero you say? Well, let’s have a wee gander at the contenders. According to the Team GB site, the ‘ones to watch’ are bobsleigh, luge, curling, women’s skiing and figure skating. But the real money is on skeleton star Shelley Rudman, who won GB’s only medal (silver) at Turin. No pressure.

No really. No pressure. None at all. Canada may want to ‘own the podium’, wheras Team GB’s 52 athletes have been set the lofty target of three medals of any colour (an all-time record). Surely, someone will rise up like the phoenix from the flames. No wait. It was an eagle rising from the prairies in ’88. Remember? Nevermind.

At the time of writing (Day 7), that any-colour-medal remains elusive. Bodes well for the bookies back home who predict the U.K. will experience a medal shutout. Surprising, considering their new ‘world-class’ National Training Facility.

So, back to those journos. Apparently, it hasn’t been a positive start at all. Right on schedule it seems, on Day 3, The Guardian wrote us off as a “worst-ever” Games.

In response, The National Post writes that “if there was a gold medal for premature Winter Olympic whining, the British would be perennial occupants of the middle spot on the podium.”

And now this today on the BBC:

Tessa Jowell, The British Olympics Minister, currently in Vancouver, said, “I think that VANOC have done a really wonderful job. Our media back home is too busy carping and doesn’t quite get it. These are Canada’s Games and the people are 1000% behind them.” Go Tessa!

For British media, my recommendation would be simple. Sure, you may need to find any story to negate UK’s impotence in the Games. But don’t tempt fate by criticizing too early. You’ll face your national test soon enough.

Whoa, Look at me! You’d think this Brit had allowed some of the ubiquitous sea of red to rub off on him. Just maybe he has.

(Special thanks to Marcus. Follow his blog here)


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