It’s certainly been a week of extremes in British sport.
Much has been written about England’s exit from the World Cup and I said many times in the aftermath that this was a good opportunity for the FA to take a long hard look at the reasons why England performed so poorly in South Africa.
I believe all sports should carry out this kind of process after major competitions. It shouldn’t be a knee jerk, heat of the moment reaction but a substantial, analytical review of performance that examined what worked and what didn’t.
If one good thing comes out of last weekend it should be that England are better prepared and better equipped next time we take part in a major football tournament.
On the bright side
But buried amid the national gloom are some gems of success that have passed almost unnoticed.
As a big cricket fan I’m delighted that we have won the one day series with Australia already. The transformation in England’s limited overs cricket fortunes has been dramatic and everyone at the ECB deserves credit for that.
The other Brit gliding under the World Cup radar was of course Andy Murray, though the spotlight is now firmly on him in his match today. His run to the semi finals doesn’t mask the disappointment of not having any other British players get past the first round, but alongside some strong performances by Laura Robson and Oliver Golding it does give us a reason to cheer.
Work to do
Unfortunately I won’t be there today because I have a busy sporting calendar myself.
This morning I’m launching the Kent School games, the competition that helped inspire the Olympic and Paralympic style school sport competition we announced details of earlier this week.
Then later today I’ll be at the Kent Spitfires 2020 cricket match with Hampshire, a game both sides desperately need to win, so fireworks should be guaranteed.
At the beginning of next week the International Olympic Committee arrive for one of their regular check-ups on London 2012. I’ll be speaking at the opening plenary session to reiterate the Government’s support for the Games and to set out the latest progress on the four key areas of Government responsibility – overall strategic direction, budget, security and legacy.
Between this and the closing IOC session I’ll also be speaking at the Civil Service Live Conference. Not a prospect to set the heart racing, I grant you, but important in galvanising the machinery of Government to deliver a successful Games.
I’ll be finishing the week with an issue close to my heart when I meet the MoD to discuss how we can involve servicemen and women at London 2012. I’ve no doubt the skills our armed services have in delivering complex logistical projects would be invaluable to the Olympics, and as a former serviceman I am very keen to see them closely involved.
We must also make a big effort to involve those injured in Afghanistan and Iraq are given the chance to become Paralympians in 2012.