Today I read this article. It’s so true that running has never been more popular – here I am sat on the train and I just saw a blur of multicoloured running vests running down a country lane. Forget tractors – running groups are the car’s new nemesis.
If I think about the distance runners that I know, I run out pretty quickly: Mo Farah, Paula Radcliffe, The-Olympic-Winner-Whose-Name-Begins-With-K…. Sally Gunnell …(ok, I know she’s not a distance runner. And there are way too many English names on that list – my Aussie subconscious is so mad right now).
The article says that there are three main issues: money, the ability to relate, and the distinction between a hobby and “serious” running.
I agree with money. Footballers’ appearences in the media are fuelled by their money as much as their skill. Not a week goes by when we aren’t reading about new hair transplants, or he who is meant to have had an affair but we’re not allowed to talk about it.
And I agree with being relatable. Being able to relate to our heroes is important, or else they might not be our heroes. There has to be something that we spot and think “that’s like me! I do that!” I have a sneaky feeling that when we watch the successes of the African champions, many of us are thinking “yeah, but long distance is part of their lifestyle“. As if our lifestyle is so alien to long distance that it’s all we can do to shower each day.
Personality comes into it as well. When I think of Mo Farah, I see his face when he realises he’s won. Tennis is the rivalry between the four Big Guns*, and their different approaches to the court. In particular Andy Murray’s misunderstood grumpiness. And who can forget Muhammad Ali’s charismatic taunts?
For me, it’s a combination of all, so I think the writer has done pretty well! There are some awesome pole superstars out there, but at least you can learn an isolated move that you’ve seen your hero do. In running, there’s the distance – and running your target distance is an amazing achievement – but for me, the pace will always mean I view our running champions as different specimens to me. But in the 2012 Olympics – I was gripped by the end of the marathon when the Ugandan Kiprotich pulled away from the Kenyan runners, so it does exist if we have the opportunity and the desire to get behind the sport (I may have Wikipedia-ed his name. Whatever).
Earlier on in the year, I read this article in Runner’s World, and it really struck a chord with me: Julius Achon‘s running story and subsequent work with orphans is more commendable than anything I could hope to achieve in my lifetime. There are times when there are definite cultural/lifestyle differences between athletes, and these shouldn’t be ignored but celebrated and highlighted.
And now that’s done with, let’s talk Wimbledon. I am extremely upset that Nadal is out already.
He is my favourite of the top 4 because he is so serious, and is a great defence player. Plus, and this is obviously low down on the list, he has nice arms. Now I don’t know who to cheer for – the tortured Murray or the smooth Djokovic?
Click here to find out more about Julius Achon’s Uganda Children’s Fund.
Who is your favourite Athlete/Sports person?
What do you think about Runners in the world of fame and sports?
* The tennis four Big Guns are: Nadal, Djokovic, Murray and Federer. But the biggest of these is Nadal. Apart from right now.