I’ve been trying to find the words for this blog for a while. And I simply can’t find them. So I’m just going to type and see where it takes me.
I rummaged around to find one of the posts I wrote on my old blog, (see previous post) about our trip to Adelaide to watch the Tour Down Under in 2010:
Anyhoo, today was the city stage, I will write about the shambles of yesterday when we get back to Melbourne, but today I was within INCHES of Lance Armstrong, and I mean that when I say it. I have one cracking photo of him for you, but you will have to trust me when I say I could have just extended my hand and touched him, I didn’t even have to stretch.
Excuse me, but it isn’t every day you get to realise a life time’s ambition:
Judi Dench in RSC play – check
Lance Armstrong in pro-cycling race – check
I’m not sure why his fall from grace, and from such a great height, has upset me so much. Maybe it’s because he’s been so vehement about not doping, maybe it’s because he lied, and lied, and lied, and lied some more to cover it up.
It annoys me intensely that cycling as a sport can’t seem to get their sport together, full stop. Riders in the past have been given a two year ban, which is worthless because they are then welcomed back with open arms. Contador went on to win again, but with the whiff of ‘is he or isn’t?’ that will permanently hang around him. It saddens me that a whole sport seems riddled with cheats, that riders are repeatedly approached to cheat, in numerous different ways, then appear to be sidelined and slowly inched out if they don’t comply. How is that acceptable, condoned and what on earth are the sport’s top brass doing about it? They cannot not know about it if it is that rife. It’s like CEOs that claim to know nothing about what is going on in their company, when it is your name on the bottom line, you make sure you know about what is going on.
I grew up swimming competitively. I was pretty good at it. I got to the point when I reached college age, that for me to get any better, faster, I had to up my training and concentrate on it properly. But by that point in my life, I was getting frustrated with the permanent smell of chlorine on my skin, and wanted a life that didn’t revolve around swimming pools. I didn’t want it hard enough. So I stopped. And have never really started again, nearly 20 years later. My body still remembers the movements, although with age, my joints ain’t what they used to be, and I know should I get back in the pool on a regular basis, I would get fitter and stronger quickly. Once you’ve trained hard, your body knows what is expected of it, and just gets on with it. Maybe that’s too simplistic a way of describing it, but I know that when I am a gym bunny, I certainly get results a lot quicker than other people that go to the gym alongside me. Spending years pushing my body in the pool and in land training, getting out of a pool and barely being able to walk, collapsing into bed with exhaustion, to get up early the next morning and do it all over again, was normal for both my brother and I through our teenage years.The irony of not wanting a life to revolve around swimming pools bit? I spent the next 5-6 years teaching swimming and lifeguarding all over the South of England, so still stunk of chlorine.
At 17-18 years old, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life (most of the time now, I still don’t). But I did know I didn’t want to swim any more. Was it rebelling against my parents, maybe. This isn’t about me. This blog is about someone who wanted to win so badly, he lied and cheated his way to doing it, but had an army of people around him protecting him and his reputation.
In some ways I’m glad his reputation is now in tatters. People are trying to balance it up against the foundation he created, but if you lie to that extent in one area of your life, what other shady things have you done in other areas of your life? Last week I threw out my Nik3 top with the yellow band on it. I can’t bring myself to wear it any longer.
The sport I love is in tatters, the man I held on a pedestal has fallen from grace, but far from what I’ve seen so far seems to be completely unrepentant about it. I got so fed up with F1 and the Poison Dwarf extorting and rorting the sport for as much money as he can, while most of the drivers flock to tax havens, I switched my energies to cycling. Now where do I go? Netball? Hardly.
TV coverage in sport has created problems all over the world, the sponsorship in some is so bad, you barely get to see any sport between the adverts. In car cameras are lovingly placed in the cab so you can see the sponsored gear-stick and dashboards. Football players demand more money, causing clubs hundreds of years old to collapse and fold when they’re not in the top flight and can’t meet wage bills. Games are rearranged around TV schedules, instead of the game rising above everything. Enough is enough. Please, let’s try to get back to basics of Faster, Higher, Stronger. Not greed, coverage, time delay.