Proud to be British, but we might need to manage national expectations!

The opening ceremony for the London 2012 Olympic Games on Friday was fantastic. I sat with pride in front of the television seeing a breathtaking artistic interpretation of what it means to be British. I thought Danny Boyle did a great job in trying to portray the complex identity that Britain has in the 21st Century. The ceremony did a great job of showcasing what it means to be British in the 21st Century and how we view ourselves as a nation. For once, the British people were given the opportunity to really celebrate being British and to celebrate the red, white and blue of the Union flag. The viewing figures in the UK alone were high with over 27 million viewers tuning in. The global audience was predicted to be in excess of 1 billion viewers and comments from across the world gave the ceremony the thumbs up. All of which has instilled a very real and visual show of national pride, support and also expectation. From the beginning of the first Olympic events the British public have turned out in their thousands to support every single British athlete and team. Today, the football commentator Alan Greening referred to the crowd watching the rowing down at Eton Dorney lake as akin to a football crowd at wembley stadium in volume and intensity. Also the vocal support for Tom Daley and Pete Waterfield at times was deafening for the men’s diving. All of which is fantastic, but does potentially raise a few problems. Following the fantastic opening ceremony the nation was on a high willing all the Team GB athletes to do well, but there was a tangible sense of disappointment after the men’s cycling road race when team GB did not manage to get close to a medal. All of which begs the question, how much pressure does the home crowd place on team GB? It might well be a fine line between seeing the crowd as facilitative or interpreting the crowd as an extra source of pressure. This is, I am sure, one area that the English Institute of Sport’s team of sport psychologists has been working with team GB on. Looking to prepare the athletes for the environment that ‘home advantage’ creates for them. Over the next two weeks we will see just how success the GB sport psychologists have been.

Feel free to comment and let me know what you think, and how the home crowd might impact on Team GB



  1. I was thinking about this earlier as I watched the men’s GB gymnastics team during their final performances. The sound of the crowd was incredible and each athlete showed recognition of the support. However, I was left wondering just how prepared they would have been to compose themselves amonsgt the intensity of the crowd’s pride and encouragement. It reminded me of something I observed whilst at centre court watching Federa against Benneteau – one women was so supportive she ended up irritating quite a few spectators who resulted to ‘shushing’ at her and expressed concerns that she was ‘putting him off’. Could the london2012 benefit from a few more shushers or perhaps filling those empty seats with tennis umpires in an attempt to maintain some control our devotion to TeamGB. Alternatively, should we encourage the athletes to embrace their popularity in the hope that part of the Olympic legacy will be an increased presence of the barmy army not just at the cricket.

  2. I think you make some good points Laura, if we can convert this natinal enthusiasm for sport into continued support accross all the Team GB sports that would be a great legacy from the Olympic Games. Hopefully the athletes will contiue to embrace their support and popularity. Although, listening to Radio 5 live this morning it is amazing to listen to the language of reporting. Instead of focusing on the truly amazing bronze medal acheived by the men’s gymnastic team the focus is on ‘losing the silver, but still achieving a bronze’. Maybe it is the media who’s expectations we need to manage more than the individual supporters.

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