|Eric Idle and dancing nuns, singing "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life"|
during the Closing Ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics
As the London 2012 Olympics come to an end and as preparations begin for the Paralympics, we present a series of reflections on the legacy of the London Games:
An American perspective on last night's closing ceremonies:
'10. "Timothy Spall as Winston Churchill emerging from the top of Big Ben and reprising Caliban’s speech from “The Tempest” while Julian Lloyd Webber played the cello Englishest thing ever. If that moment were any more British, it would have had an overbite.
. . . 6. The throng of Beefeaters doing “Parklife”
Did you ever once, in any of the times you’ve ever heard Blur’s dizzy ditty, imagine a bunch of guys in big fuzzy hats marching around a mobbed stadium to the strains of “All the people! So many people!” And now you can’t picture it any other way, can you? That’s what makes it brilliant.'
An Australian perspective on the past two weeks:
'London, you didn't half do a decent job. These Olympics had Sydney's vibrancy, Athens's panache, Beijing's efficiency, and added British know-how and drollery. With apologies to Sydney, they might just represent a new PB for the Olympics.'
Sportswriters' best Olympic moments:
'Few sporting achievements have left me genuinely gobsmacked, but David Rudisha's victory in the 800m was one of them, even before all those privileged enough to witness it realised he'd taken one tenth of a second off his own world record and acknowledged the feat with one of the loudest, most gutteral stadium roars I've ever heard. Such was the Kenyan's self-confidence he thought nothing of gambling the farm on breaking his record, bringing the best out of his beaten opponents in the process. So much so that Andrew Osagie's last-place finish was one of the stellar British performances of the Games.'
Daily Telegraph's 50 best images from the Games.
Journalist Tim Adams abandons his cynicism and is swept away by the Games:
'Journalists, even sports writers, are supposed to display professional detachment and reserve while working. They are supposed to hold tight to their cynicism, retain their objectivity, keep their seen-it-all-before expressions in place while all about them are losing theirs. Still, there have been several occasions in the last week or two when even in the press seats it has been clear that the only honest human response to what is happening has been to stand up and yell and scream along with everyone else.'
And, as a debate begins in Britain (see here, here and here) about how to approach sport within schools, in the light of the London Olympics legacy project, PGS’ own George Chapman asks the controversial question: “Does compulsory exercise actually harm children’s health?”:
'As the proportion of the population which is overweight, and indeed obese, has reached an all-time record, our society is faced with an ever-growing responsibility to monitor the nutrition not only of ourselves but our families and friends as well. Such a fear of unhealthy weight-gain has given rise to the implementation of extensive exercise-promoting government policies in an attempt to control obesity from a legislative and authoritative standpoint. These include compulsory physical education for all school pupils in addition to the recent Change 4 Life incentives.
The number of people diagnosed with primary or secondary obesity last year was the highest so far, pushing 150,000 in the
alone. Staggeringly, this was an increase of 40,000 on the 12 months previous. I fail to see (especially in the light of our current economic climate) how such multi-million-pound policies intended to improve the health of our under-16s are considered viable when they, in fact, led to an 8%1 increase in obesity amongst this age group over the last year. UK
On closer analysis, the increased international emphasis on physical activity has had an impact on today’s youth. However, this has perhaps not been the desired effect. A simple Google search will reveal the ever growing trend among many increasingly young children to become involved with football and other team sports, which, on the surface, can only appear to be a good thing, right?
Alongside the rise in interest for these sports is, logically, a rise in the injuries associated with such sports. The magnitude of this increase is illustrated by a statistic the Children’s
released in October, in which doctors reported a 400% spike in patients admitted to the hospital with sports-related knee injuries. Furthermore, operations to repair such severe knee injuries can inhibit patients’ growth, owing to the damage inflicted on the growth plate during surgery2. Hospital of Philadelphia
In short, it appears that increased awareness of obesity and increased emphasis of the importance of physical activity in society has indeed instigated a rise in the quantity of physical activity undertaken. However, it would appear that such physical activity has not been undertaken by the population’s obese and overweight, at whom many of the healthy living incentives were targeted, supported by the continual rise in primary and secondary obesity diagnoses1. Conversely, there has been a dramatic increase in the physical activity undertaken by many already-sporting youngsters, who may already be participating in the Government’s recommended hour of exercise per day.
As a result, there has been an increase in the quantity and severity of sports-related injuries amongst youngsters, stemming from both over-exertion and over-use, in addition to spontaneous injuries that arise from collisions, for instance. Such injuries often require surgery and can even impact a child’s health through their adult life2.
To conclude, we are able to appreciate that, in accordance with the evidence that can easily be ascertained from the Internet, encouragement of physical activity has in fact had a detrimental effect on the health of today’s youth, and has added additional strain to international health resources. Such encouragement of physical activity was designed to help each of these factors, not hinder them.'
The article by George Chapman originally appeared in Portsmouth Point magazine's Olympics edition, in February 2012.