Ireland’s two speed performance at the Olympics…

What’s been astonishing at this Olympic games is just how well the British appear to have performed in comparison with past outings. Ireland’s performance in comparison begins to point not at lack of talent (of course it is a more limited pool) but structural weaknesses in the way sport is funded. Generally, Northern Irish competitors have with Team GB fared much better, hitting finals in several sports and in the case of Wendy Houvenaghel from Upperlands in Co Derry who took silver in cycling. Yesterday, the UK papers were at pains to point out just how potent the Lottery system has been at micro funding athletes at critical stages of their development, though it seems to me that that is only part of the story. Serious amounts of central funds have been committed in infrastructure as well as in importing top level coaches. And Ireland’s most notable failures so far, seem to me to amount to coaching failure rather than absence of competitive talent. Over at Brassneck I’ve argued that British Olympic success has relied on building a genuine sporting culture over the longer term. Not as Tom Humphries perceptively points out, by confusing “an ole-ole-ole tradition with a sporting culture.”

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty