I am a late convert to the wonder of the Olympic Games. I ignored them completely until London 2012 when I joined in the national euphoria and started to see that underneath the hype there were stories of true heroism and there were people who demonstrated sporting values worth valuing.
The background to all of this a Britain where football rules. The over-indulged and over-paid soccer players are treated as celebrities and are over exposed in a national media that behaves as if no other sport exists. Yet, every four years, in contrast to these pampered soccer professionals, who epitomise entitlement, we have the spirit of sportsmanship on display in our Team GB Olympic team. I noticed from the interviews they gave to the media after the medal ceremonies how many of the victors came across as genuine and aware of their privileged position in the team and at the Olympics.
The games also gave some deserving sports their moment in the spotlight. For me, cycling, gymnastics and table tennis were put on show in a way they rarely are between Olympics. So now that it is all over, here are two stars worth celebrating, one a medal winner (several times as it happens) and another not.
Max Whitlock: I first noticed our British gymnast four years ago when he was part of the team that won bronze in the team event. In Rio he was the true star gymnast winning bronze in the individual overall event but gold in both the individual floor and pommel horse events.
Liam Pitchford: Although the British team was knocked out by the Chinese in the quarter finals of the Table Tennis competition, I was so impressed by the determination and skill when GB played the French that I had to search the BBC schedules to find the matches against China. I hadn’t heard of him before Rio but I know him now and I shall be following his career from now on! As it happens, I hadn’t heard about Max Whitlock before the last Olympics.