Thursday, 24 June 2010

Sporting idols worth worshipping

That's it, call a halt to the World Cup and to Wimbledon now, before things begin to go downhill.

It's the morning after the day before and the nation is reflecting on England's progression in to the last 16 of the World Cup and on the longest, most dramatic tennis match in the history of Wimbledon. Both events helped to lift the country's spirits, to bring a smile to football fans' faces after a week of negativity and to ignite interest in the world's greatest tennis tournament - in a year when events in South Africa will inevitable overshadow it.

More important than that, however, June 23rd provided our children with sporting idols actually worth worshipping. Beamed in to living rooms in glorious high definition technicolor, young people - so often criticised for being of a computer generation - were able to watch in awe as England's footballers returned to form and as John Isner and Nicolas Mahut battled to 59-59 in the fifth set of their first round Men's Singles match in SW19.

It may be with the aid of rose tinted spectacles, but I'd like to think that such monumental, high profile sporting events will help to inspire youngsters to pick up a tennis racket or head to the park with their friends to recreate Defoe's Port Elizabeth triumph - just as Linkeer and Gascoigne once did for me.

Mahut and Isner, inparticular, looked like they were competing in the Rumble in The Jungle rather than on Wimbledon's plush court 18 last night, so drained were they after their 10-hour marathon match. It was a shining example of man's bravery, determination, resilience and sheer dogged determination in the face of adversity, and in the face of a first round exit.

Mahut and Isner are not the most famous names in tennis and the fact that they will probably exit in the second or third round against the Federers and Nadals of this world - a fact that they themselves must surely recognise - just makes this mammoth fight even greater.

The true heroes we saw on the tennis court and football pitch yesterday just go to show how important and inspirational sport can be.

Let's just hope Mahut and Isner keep going for another 10 hours and England make it past Germany on Sunday.

Fingers crossed everyone.

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