It’s good to be Great.


Britain look like beating the medal tally they achieved as a home competitor. In medal terms they will be either second or third most successful competitor on this most elevated of world stages. So why should anyone question a little triumphalism. Why should I fee a little guilty about jingoism?

The short answer is that I shouldn’t.

I shouldn’t be ashamed to be competitive.

Those people who dislike competition have their own reasons. There are loads of great non-competitive things to do like join in Shakespeare 400 or watch some proms or walk in the hills . We have these Olympics once every four years and they are not a burden!

I shouldn’t be ashamed to be British – Great British.

The people who won our 60 something medals, and those who didn’t but performed with such credit show an astonishing diversity. I don’t want to pick out names, but you only have to think of the interviews to realise that the national lottery has made winning at sport , something that anyone can do. Our Olympic success was not honed on the playing grounds of Eton, we had centers of excellence around the country , our winners were as female as male, class, creed and colour has been no obstacle to Great British success.

Britain has turned itself in the past three Olympics from hapless to losers to ruthless winners.

I should be proud to be British – Great British

Whatever we voted in the Referendum, we are heading out of the European Union and will have to stand on our own two feet. For all the problems this will cause, there are new and unexplored opportunities. We will best exploit these opportunities if we are confident – proud even,

I have no problem with Theresa May making political capital out of this success, I don’t mean party political capital- this is nothing to do with Conservative politics, I mean a wider sense of national pride based on the real positives we have experienced over the past weeks.

I like to see areas like Manchester and Yorkshire boast their regional roots, but I’m also happy that these medals were won under a Great British flag that meant you were as much a part of the team if you were from Northern Ireland as England , from Scotland as from Wales. I don’t even stop to ask which regions contributed most – that is not relevant in such a team performance.

The political capital that Theresa May collects will be badly needed over the rest of her term in power and beyond,

Going it alone

I spent yesterday on my boat with a bunch of Brazilians and Italians – a wonderful day despite the weather. Of course I was proud of our performance but they were too.

Our global standing in the world in every sense is enhanced by our sporting prowess (and by the way we conduct ourselves), Our conduct in these games has been awesome.

We have not put the boot into Rio for its shortfalls, rightly so. But the achievement of London 2012 looks the greater for what has often seemed pretty shambolic. We created London 2012 in the four years after the economic collapse and delivered in the teeth of the odds.

Now we are taking on another great challenge, to go it alone without the help of our European trading partners and there can be better statement of intent as to how we go about it than our performance at the 2016 Olympics.

There is a fine line between jingoism and patriotism and we cannot allow ourselves to think there is merit in isolating ourselves. The spirit of the Olympics, like that of the Commonwealth, European and World games should be inclusive. But within the terms of the competition, to be winners, as we are, is something to be very proud of.

I am proud to be British and Great British and incredibly grateful to the dedication of our athletes, the coaches and all the volunteers that make me- and the Nation- feel this way!

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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14 Responses to It’s good to be Great.

  1. Peter D Beattie says:

    Henry. I think that you are ‘skating on very thin ice’ here. Of course all people should have pride in the country that they live in or are citizens of that country. But the danger comes when you try and link achievements to ‘politics’ to try to gain an advantage over other ‘deserving peoples’ that’s where the danger lies and the problems start! Loyalties start to break down with such events of ‘home grown ISIS’ or for example the drug problem of cheating by that Eastern Continental country all because of ‘politics’. Unfortunately the ‘competitive approach’ is self generating for these sort of events! You have only got to look at the Berlin Games of the 1930s – all because of Hitler and where did that get us? We have ended up with BREXIT! This may or may not be a way forward only time will tell!

    Peter D Beattie – a veteran of WW2

    • henry tapper says:

      I agree – it is a moral dilemma and I am aware of the dangers of nationalism. But I do believe that we have shown great leadership in the way we have kept clean and promoted both the Olympics and Paralympics.

      We can say we are Great in this without diminishing others (IMO)

      • Peter D Beattie says:

        Henry. To keep ‘promoting our so called Greatness’ is costing our country a lot of money that flows ‘out’ rather than ‘in’ to help our infrastructure. The latest news is that each piece of metal that is an ‘Olympic Gong’ cost us 4 million GMP! A lot of money for ‘posturing?

  2. George Kirrin says:

    We agree, Henry, tho’ strictly Great Britain is an island which does not take in Northern Ireland at all, and excludes both large and not so large islands to the north, west and south. But I can live with this every four years ….

    yours aye, George

  3. Con Keating says:

    Henry – I am Irish so can avoid that part of this thread. The Lottery funding for these elite sports is close to £350 million for the 2013-2017 period – do you really think that is an appropriate use of these funds? Given the demographics of ticket purchases, the transfer is also more than a little questionable. So we have the circuses…

  4. henry tapper says:

    I think it is an excellent use of the money – it has made “sport for all” – accessible to all- what better way of spending charity money – investment in sport is brilliant, it’s the way to save our NHS a lot of aggro – hopefully we will all die quickly from heart attacls on the squash court!

  5. Peter D Beattie says:

    Con. I agree you are right ‘its elitist’ ending up with few participants and too many watchers being unproductive and probably making their weight problem worse. The only people who win with ‘competitive sport’ are the sharks making money out of it and sporting suppliers making money and the media people making a job for themselves giving them a means of self promotion! I do not see any difference in this than as in ancient times the ‘gladiators of Rome’ making themselves ‘celebrities’!

  6. George Kirrin says:

    Yorkshireman Duncan Hamilton, whose well-researched biography of Eric Liddell, For The Glory, is to be recommended, says even as far back as 1924 Liddell bemoaned the emphasis on nationality. He would have preferred minimum qualifying standards, then a competition of individuals or teams not labelled as nations.

    But Liddell’s view strikes me as being naïve in a world of commerce.

  7. Peter D Beattie says:

    George. Yes I had forgotten Eric who was a Scot, educated in England and before my time at the same school founded on Christian principles. He is remembered there by a Sports Centre bearing his name and available to the local community. If you remember he won at the Berlin Games.

    • George Kirrin says:

      Paris, not Berlin, Peter.

      A bronze in the 200 and a gold from lane eight in the 400.

      This year’s 400 men’s gold, Wayde van Niekerk, is a South African Christian. He’s the only man to run under 10 for the 100, under 20 for the 200 and now the world record holder for the 400, as Liddell was in 1924. Don’t know why van Niekerk didn’t run against Bolt in the 200 ….

      History repeats, or at least echoes.

    • George Kirrin says:

      Liddell, who was born in China not Scotland, was arguably China’s first gold medallist.

  8. Peter D Beattie says:

    George. Of course it was Paris and he was born to a Scottish family in China being missionaries.

  9. I disagree that Brexit has to be made a success. I don’t think it can. It will do too great damage to the EU, to the British people, and to our chances of restricting the power of multinational companies or preserving our public services. I love my country, I want its people to flourish, but want pride in actual achievements- like, for example, a publicly run NHS, or rail franchises in public not private hands- rather than the showy achievements of 366 people.

  10. Peter D Beattie says:

    Clare. We have no guarantee of this public ownership if we had stayed in the EU an enterprise run to favour corporations rather than its citizens! Our citizens have given their preference and it demonstrates failure of EU policies to keep us attracted by them! Its really up to us to make the future work and these amateurs that seem to run our systems not to agree on workable policies to ‘balance the books’. In this country there still seems to be far too much selfishness by individuals and minorities hell bent on disruption whether by owners of corporations or by those dissatisfied in the workforce! Before making any reason to change the accepted rules of society they really are not putting ‘our country first as their priority’!

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