Britons: winners or losers?

Hannah ThompsonYouGovLabs and UK Public Opinion Website Editor
August 21, 2012, 2:32 PM GMT+0

78% Brits say Olympics success makes them more likely to think of British sportspeople as winners

When it comes to competing in international sporting events, how well would you say Britain's sportspeople usually fare?

Our poll shows a strong majority of Britons believe that the recent London Olympics have made Brits more likely to view ourselves as sporting winners, compared to a quarter saying that they see British sportsmen and sportswomen as more likely to play the role of 'plucky loser'.

  • 78% think that the 2012 Olympics have made British people more likely to see ourselves as sporting winners rather than 'plucky losers'
  • 10% say it has not made British people more likely to see ourselves as sporting winners
  • When considering Britain’s participation in all sports and sporting competitions, 59% think Britain is a country that can compete with the very best in international sport and can win
  • 24% generally think that in most international sporting competitions the British are normally 'plucky losers', though we try hard and put on a brave show

Writing in the Mirror newspaper, Oliver Holt is just one commentator to have claimed that this year's home-grown Olympic successes have overhauled Britons' view of their standing in international sport.

Referring to examples such as tennis player Andy Murray ‒ who won Olympic Gold this year but was repeatedly and crushingly beaten by rivals Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer at Wimbledon ‒ Holt writes that Britons have grown used to thinking of themselves "as plucky losers at best".

The disappointment of cyclist Mark Cavendish as he tried and failed to win the men's road race early on in the Games was perhaps another downbeat example of this particularly British viewpoint.

"[However] what has happened at these Olympic Games…illuminated by the spotlight of national pride in the event, has changed that," Holt says.

Indeed, Sir Chris Hoy, Jessica Ennis, Bradley Wiggins, Ben Ainslie, Mo Farrah, Laura Trott, Charlotte Dujardin, Alistair Brownlee and Nicola Adams are just some of the Britons who picked up Gold this year, in sports as diverse as athletics, boxing, cycling, sailing and dressage.

See the survey details and full results here