London 2012: Does Olympic success fill a nation with pride?

By Jane Mower
BBC 2012

image captionThousands of fans gave Great Britain's Olympic and Paralympic athletes a heroes' welcome after the 2008 Games

As 2012 begins, the BBC has revealed the findings of a poll which asked people around the world about the influence of Olympic success on their national pride.

Nearly half of those questioned in the UK said performance mattered "only a little" whilst the majority of people in developing and middle-income countries said they got the greatest lift from Olympic achievement.

BBC 2012 asked members of the public in London, Bristol, Edinburgh, Dumfries, Wrexham and Belfast for their views.


Hebe Kurzeja, a 14-year-old school pupil, said: "I think it's probably the same as if the Olympics were anywhere. You want your country to do well. I would feel disappointed if they didn't do well but I wouldn't take it to heart. I don't think the disappointment would be greater than if they were competing in any other country."

Painter and decorator David Brown, 47, said: "It's very important. It would be nice to see us do well for national pride. I'd like someone to excel in a particular sport that we didn't think we would do well in.

"Success would be everybody giving it their best. It doesn't really need to mean medals. I want it to run smoothly. I don't want it to be an embarrassment."

image captionGreat Britain's athletes will be hoping to take advantage of a home crowd

Lauren Stevenson, 28, collateral management adviser at an investment bank, said: "They are representing our country and to have everyone come here we don't want to be made a fool of. I'd like them to do better than they've done in the past.

"In the scheme of things it's not massively important though. I think we are privileged to have it in London anyway. Don't get me wrong, there will be lots of problems. I would like them to do well but it's not the main priority."

Building inspector Joe Linnane, 56, said: "It's very important that the English athletes do very well. One - because it's in this country, two - because Britain needs to win something.

"Everyone who takes part in it should be given a medal. Not everyone can do it. If not, you try, try again. That's what the British would do isn't it?

"In certain sports they won't do well because other countries have developed fantastic athletes because, I believe, they give more backing and support than we do."


Trevor Hunt, 66, who is retired, said: "I think it's terribly important because it can help flow many things - like stimulate the bad economy that we're in at the moment.

"People always get behind our sportsmen and women during big events like this and it's probably the biggest event the country has hosted for a great many years, so I hope we do well and get lots of gold medals."

Scientist Rio Mpofu, 31, said: "It is very important we do well because we are hosting the Olympics so it's very important that we succeed. I think it will encourage the youngsters if the athletes do very well, to take part in more sports.

"Great Britain winning in lots of Olympics events in 2012 will greatly inspire the next generation of athletes I think."

Sue Rawlings, 42, an office manager, said: "Considering it's in London it's important. Definitely. I think it will bring tourism in and certainly bring some money in and hopefully some jobs.

"After the riots this year, I think London and the country needs a positive boost that I'm sure success at the Olympics would bring. We need our national pride back."


Jack Groom, 60, from Dumfries, said: "It is nationalism - we get behind our country and we do that, in a different way, with the army. I think we should support them. We are quite far away but I think the majority of people will be watching on TV and hoping they do well."

image captionCyclist Sir Chris Hoy won three gold medals at the Beijing Olympics

Gary Forrest, 42, a senior bank manager from Edinburgh, said: "The Olympics are not important to me in any way because I view Team GB as an English team.

"I also think it is over extravagant and shouldn't be here because we should have been spending the money on other stuff such as the deficit, the police and nurses.

"I won't be watching it. I like watching sport but only if there is a Scottish team. Scottish people under Team GB are flying the wrong flag."

John Perkins, 42, a security manager from Edinburgh, said: "I think it is essential that Britain does well in the Olympics because it will restore a bit of national pride and uplift the nation.

"I will still watch the sports which don't have British competitors but it is much better if there is someone from Britain.

"I am really looking forward to the Olympics."


Robert Lawley, a cobbler, 48, said: "To me it's very important because we're hosting it and I believe the government has invested quite a lot in athletics. It would look so much better if we did well, rather than getting the odd gold medal here and there.

"It would be nice to get a few golds. If we weren't hosting it, I'd just say 'good luck guys' and see what happens, but as the hosts we need to do well.

image captionEllie Simmonds won two golds in the pool at the Paralympics in Beijing

"I think we'll do better than we usually do because of the home advantage. If we're doing well, everyone is up for it, and if we do quite well at athletics it might get more people interested in it."

Craig Lewis, a 23-year-old butcher, said: "It's not that important to me but I know it's a big thing for a lot of people.

"Some of the events interest me but a lot of them are boring. I'm not keen on the running but I quite like the gymnastics. My mum loves watching the Olympics but most people I know aren't really interested in it. It's not a big thing here in Wrexham."

Hairdresser Emma Wainwright, 22, said: "I wouldn't say it's very important and I haven't heard anyone mention the Olympics.

"I don't know anything about it, but I suppose as a country it would be nice to do well. I suppose it's nice that there are women's events, and it's not as male-oriented as a lot of sports.

"I haven't had any exposure to it. I haven't seen anything advertised. We do talk to a lot of people in the salon and nobody has been talking about it."

Northern Ireland

Mother and housewife Janice Rainey, 40, said: "I'm not really a sports fan and won't be watching any of the Olympics coverage as I find it quite boring. I have to admit that I couldn't even name a member of the GB team.

"It would be great for them to do well though, of course, but I have to be honest and say I won't be sitting on my sofa cheering them on.

"The only Olympic sport I have ever watched is the ice skating, I enjoy that and some of the other winter games, but 10 minutes of it is enough for me."

Mark Burns, 51, who is an auditor, said: "From a patriotic viewpoint I like to see Northern Ireland representatives in Team GB do well primarily. Their success is more important to me because of the direct impact it has locally. We love our heroes.

"If Team GB had no local representation I really don't think their success would have anywhere near the same impact.

"On the wider aspect I think that the success of the 2012 Olympics is something which people will share in and feel part of given the participation of Northern Ireland athletes, regardless of who they are representing."

Dave McClune, 29, who works as an assistant manager for a car rental company, said: "I wouldn't say it is important that they succeed, however, with the amount of money that we invest in GB sport, it would be good to see some positive results.

"I will watch a variety of events, in fact, probably anything that is on the TV, but am especially looking forward to seeing the hockey and beach volleyball."

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