After seven years of waiting the day is finally upon us. Tonight, thousands of people from the world over will gather in Stratford, East London, for the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games, running from July 27th to August 12th.
Ahead of the Olympics we put an Olympic-themed five-part special here in Labs, to invite your views and reflections on a range of Games-related topics in YouGov’s SportsLab.
In this, we asked you to imagine which sport you would choose to compete in if you were representing the nation as an Olympian, and on the flip-side, which you'd least like to (and why).
The Olympic athletes will be going for gold, of course. While everyone, from the athletes themselves, to us watching them sweat determination at home, will be hoping for these ultimate wins, we thought we’d pose a related yet alternative question that drew some varied, similarly off-beat answers:
If the UK as a nation could win an Olympic gold medal at anything other than sport, i.e. for something else we excel at, that no one else rivals us in, what would it be for?
Here we look at the length, breadth, and content of what you panellists had to say in SportsLab:
Q: Imagine you are going to be competing in the London 2012 Olympic Games. Which sport would you most like to compete in?
The highest proportion of those who took part said it was the athletics they would choose to compete in at the Olympics.
- Many of you said it was the ultimate Olympic sport, and as such, the one they felt received the most attention.
- Others drew a logical conclusion, on the grounds that they had excelled at athletics in the past, and would relish the thrill of competing for their country at the Olympic Games. With some of you, there was even an element of nostalgia for what could have been…
Football was chosen by the second highest proportion of participants in SportsLab as the Olympics sport they would most like to compete in.
- Many participants told us that football was the obvious choice for them because it was their favourite all-round sport, or one they drove their passions into, and therefore the one they would most like to compete in at the Olympic Games.
- As with those who chose athletics, many of you said you enjoyed and were good at playing football in the past, and would delight in the glory of playing for Team GB.
“It is an Olympian sport without finely tuned equipment – find the fastest athlete!” Roy G, Solihull
“I have great memories of being quite a good athlete as a schoolgirl, and as I got older I wish I had joined an athletics club, but we weren’t encouraged at that time and there wasn’t TV coverage to keep up our interest so it all slipped away. I wish I had carried on to see what I could have achieved” Anon
“Men’s 100-metre final. Although the quickest race, it has to be about the most exciting” Anon
“I was pretty good at athletics at school, and I feel that it is the sport that epitomises what the Olympics is all about the most” Anon
“For me athletics has always been the main focus sport of the Olympics, as it has the tradition going back to the ancient Greek Games. I'm not a fan of more and more sports being added under the Olympic Games banner (for various reasons), but athletics has always been there so it would be the ultimate accolade to compete (and maybe even win a gold medal) in an athletics event” Alan, Herts
“Whilst the other sports have merits, athletics is the one that people really switch on for. Sure, it's arbitrary and it's difficult to fathom why anyone would go to such sacrificial lengths just to be fast over a pre-determined distance, but it's still fascinating watching and the kudos of being regarded as the 'fastest' would be too cool” James H, London
“I just missed out on the selection in 1972 (Munich) and I would love to have the chance of being selected again and competing at the games themselves. My event was the women's 1,500 metres (track). I got injured and this affected my confidence” Margaret B, Fleet, Hampshire
“The rush of athletics is difficult to match” Anon
“Although a lover of all sports, football has pride of place in my heart. So if I was to compete, then I would like to compete in my 'true' sporting passion” Steve, Cambridge
“It's my favourite sport, plain and simple” Anon
“I live and breathe football and would love to take part in the Olympics with Team GB. Okay, I'd have to be one of the overage players, but just being part of it would be great to tell future family generations what I did, and I’d be proud to represent my country no matter where we finish” Scott D, Leicester
“It's what I have a passion for and it’s synonymous with the UK – we invented the game!” Anon
“Growing up I was the only girl playing football with all the boys. I was called a tomboy and told I really shouldn’t be doing it. Now it is totally acceptable for girls to play football and I would have loved the opportunity to actually see how good i could have been” Carol J, Cheshire
“Football is my passion and easily my favourite sport. I would proud to represent my country” Phil B, Bradford
“I played football professionally and I would have loved to be able to take part in the Olympics” Anon
“I'm a wheelchair user! To play football for GB would be amazing!” Mary W, Devon
Q: Which sport would you least like to compete in, if you were an Olympics athlete?
Synchronised swimming was chosen by the largest proportion of participants as the Olympic sport they would least like to compete in.
- Many of you told us that you did not think it should be considered a ‘real sport’.
- Some expressed admiration for the skills required to be a synchronised swimmer, but said that for you, it didn’t make for exciting viewing.
Boxing was the Olympic sport that the second highest proportion of those who took part said they would least like to compete in.
- Participants objected to the ‘violence’ of boxing, with many saying it was barbaric and should be abolished.
- Others were simply squeamish about getting ‘thumped’. “It's not a sport, it's a display of dance choreography in water – and very dismal it is too” Anon“I accept the difficulties in the sport, but not great to watch for me!” Neil, Chichester“It's about as exciting as watching paint dry” Anon“It is stretching credulity to regard it as a sport” Anon“It is indeed skilful but it is like dancing, it is not a sport” Graham, Warminster“Just ridiculous – If perhaps you were allowed to view the whole body, as in water ballet, then I could see a point. But six heads stuck out of water and pointing alternatively with feet and hands – you are having a laugh, aren't you?” B, Lincoln “I find boxing to be a very violent game and also dangerous. I don’t see in boxing the harmony that other sports, such a swimming, are able to pass on to me” Susanna, London“I'm uneasy about boxing as a sport due to the potential for violence” Katie H, Bolton“I dislike boxing. Something that tries to deliberately hurt the opponent should never be called a sport” Howard, Wales“I dislike boxing greatly, it is just glorified violence” Anon“There are several I would not like to compete in, but this one has to be one of those in the lead. Why would anyone want to be thumped? I know you may get a chance to thump the opponent (if you are quick enough), but why would you want to? And the landing on the floor, or the ropes, or even outside the ring – ouch!” Janie“It is a barbaric and out-dated sport. It should have been consigned to history years ago” Davie, Hampshire
Q: If the UK as a nation could win an Olympic gold medal at anything other than sport, i.e. for something else we excel at, that no one else rivals us in, what would it be for?In YouGov’s SportsLab we very much enjoyed reading your amusing and interesting responses to this question.
Firstly, many of you said you thought the UK could win an Olympic gold medal for ‘complaining’, ‘moaning’ and ‘whinging’.
- Some of you said that complaining about bad weather was a ‘national obsession’, while others cited the focus on the negatives of the Olympic Games as clear evidence that when it comes to moaning the British are truly unrivalled.
- One media commentator, writing about the show that director Danny Boyle will put on at the opening ceremony, said: ‘The show Boyle is likely to produce will surely understand something important about this nation: that the whingeing and complaining are not a repudiation of national identity, but a part of it.’
Queuing was also mentioned by many participants as something that people in the UK truly excelled at.
- One participant declared people in the UK to be ‘the world’s most accomplished queue patrons’, while another pointed out that those Britons attending Olympic events would get plenty of opportunity to put their above-average queuing skills into action.
Finally, the British sense of humour was cited by many of those who took part as something for which the UK could win a gold medal.
- Participants described the British sense of humour as ‘sardonic’ and ‘self-deprecating’, and said that Brits find something to joke about even in the worst of times.
What is your favourite Olympic sport?
And what is something other than a sport that you think Britain could win a ‘gold medal’ for?