Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Brexiting Britain Can Still Be a Land of Hope and Glory

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Brexiting Britain Can Still Be a Land of Hope and Glory

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan Jones @dgjones

THE 2016 Rio Olympics, more properly called the Games of the XXXI Olympiad, have a natty slogan. They invoke, even promise, 'A New World'.

As I think about this slogan now, days from the opening of the Games, I feel a little leap in my heart and a stirring in my gut which cannot be explained solely by the fact that 'New World' is the name of my favourite dim sum restaurant in Soho.

Despite the continuing trouble that surrounds the build-up to these Games faltering preparations in a city crippled by austerity and corruption, the threat of disease, the awfulness of the Russian doping scandal I have at last started to feel that budding pre-Games hopefulness, which blooms when any Olympics gets underway.

It is a sense that, even if they are overshadowed by politics, cheating and scandal, the Olympic and Paralympic Games remain on some level a force for basic human good: for entertainment, excitement and a form of emotional connection.

These are events that bring together team-mates across disciplines and nationalities; join them with the millions of people who make up their global audience, and add another chapter to a sporting continuum stretching back to time out of mind.

Great Britain's delegation comprises 366 athletes and as a group they aim to come back with their best-ever haul of medals in an 'away' Olympics: beating the 47 they won in Beijing in 2008 and the 43 of Antwerp in 1920.

In doing so, Team GB are carried to Brazil on a wave still rolling from London 2012. Those last Games are already richly gilded in national sporting lore, their brilliance sparkling most brightly from the 45 minutes of Super Saturday, when it rained gold medals over Stratford. The further we travel from that moment, the easier it is to believe that this was the last time when our now-Brexiting nation really was a land of hope and glory.

But perhaps Rio 2016 offers the possibility that we might recapture some of that moment, and of those Games; that Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis-Hill, Andy Murray and Nicola Adams will defend their titles and that newcomers like the record-breaking 21-year-old swimmer Adam Peaty will step up and join them. …

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