Ready, steady, go! London’s Olympics are now finally upon us.
In the interests of presenting a united front, we must ignore matters such as the closure of several important road lanes across London, now reserved solely for official Olympic vehicles, and not question those who attempt to justify spending of tens of millions on what sounds like a worryingly naff opening ceremony.
Instead, we must embrace a mountain of freshly printed race and competition schedules, many of which resemble the old-fashioned Christmas edition of Radio Times – the one everybody used to buy to plan their festive viewing.
There is an uncanny resemblance to our modern-day Olympic guides which helpfully highlight times when we can expect to see pockets of lycra-clad individuals careering across our TV screens as we watch, transfixed at the sheer athleticism of it all.
This column may have criticised the cost of hosting the event and consistently suggested that the Games’ budget of £9.35billion has remained suspiciously unchanged for several years, but I certainly do not want to see either organisers or athletes, all of whom have worked incredibly hard to this point, emerge with anything but credit from the Olympic Games.
However, unless we’re party to an Olympian miracle, one which sees world records smashed to smithereens, the probability is that the summer’s biggest sporting winner, from a commercial perspective, has already completed a performance of such sinewy magnitude that it is difficult to see anyone surpassing it over the coming fortnight.
By winning the Tour de France last weekend, Bradley Wiggins has joined the pantheon of British sport.
His achievement compares to that of Sir Roger Bannister’s first sub-four minute mile, Sir Ian Botham’s match-winning heroics and Sir Steve Redgrave’s five Olympic gold medals. And like this trio of his fellow sporting greats, Wiggins is, mercifully, completely unaffected.
Standing on a podium in the shadow of the Arc de Triomphe, surrounded by Parisian hoi polloi and cycling’s great and good on Sunday afternoon, Wiggins took the proffered microphone for a short victory speech and turned to face the crowd’s large British contingent.
“We were just going to draw the raffle numbers now,” he quipped, as though addressing a gathering of pensioners in a working man’s club.
The following day, he took his son to a summer rugby camp with the Wigan Warriors. The Tour de France champion happens to be a season ticket holder at the DW Stadium and is a massive rugby league fan.
Clearly, there is certainly no ‘edge’ to Bradley Wiggins, and this, according to marketing men, is his ‘USP’: unique selling point.
“Bradley’s brief speech in Paris will have thrilled marketers,” says Jim Hardie, chief executive of sports marketing firm Apex.