Higher, Faster - Richer?
Wayne Rooney and Paula Findlay have little in common.
Gender, sports, countries, fame, money? Nope, not a thing.
Integrity, grit, honour? Nope. Chalk those off the blackboard, too.
But watching a quite remarkable Saturday of Olympic action it was Paula who put Wayne and his cohorts in their place. Never deliberately. No, this is a young woman with class. And as for Wayne? Well, there are many of similar ilk swanning around in professional football - including our own Brambles, Bents and Gyans - but let's just say he gets the nod by a hair's breadth.
Of course the glow of this Olympic moment will pass and we will all go back to feeding the monster. In our case hoping like hell that MON brings in a striker before we face the Gunners. But for a few days at least it is well to reflect on those to whom we give our devotion. That they can kick a ball and run about a lot? Sure, some very much better than others. That they can fall over and win a penalty? Experts. That they can kiss a badge without having a damn clue as to the history behind that emblem? They're salivating - maybe someone will endorse their lip gloss.
But to show real guts when there's no one around to cheer or fawn? To keep going even though you're hurting, you're last and the sponsorship signs are already being removed when you trail through those last, cruel moments? Not a chance in hell.
Which brings us to young Paula.
There are many other examples. But I've met Paula. A quiet, sincere 23-year-old from (in Canadian terms) just up the road in Edmonton. She races in that most gruelling of events, the triathalon and, going to London she had an outside hope of a medal. Racing despite a thigh injury she finished dead last with her worst time in five years. In tears she staggered down the final straight while those remaining spectators, who as regular British folks made me yet again realize that Margaret Thatcher was indeed an abhoration, stood and applauded.
Still in tears she face the interview and apologized to her country, her parents, her coach and her fellow athletes.
That's when it struck.
Back then in the World Cup and Wayne's ignorant mouthings to the camera after a game in which the sun didn't shine on his then balding noggin.
More money, more fame. But class? Forget it.
The more we give the more they take and the wider the gulf becomes. Where will it end? Will it end? We don't know.
But before we start yet another season of excess it is nice to reflect for a few days and celebrate true sportsmen and women. Winners and losers who had but a few short hours in the limelight and didn't use it to throw a temper tantrum.
(Our Canadian Correspondent)