Friday, 4 January 2013

Rory and the Olympics Dilemma

Regular readers will know that when it comes to the Olympics I support two nations. As some of you know I also know from first hand experience that the decision of which of those two an Northern Irish sports person faces when deciding who to represent isn't always straight forward or black and white.

Yesterday in a documentary shown on BBC Northern Ireland there was another twist to this tail.

First though a little bit of trivia question. When was the last time that Northern Ireland won a gold medal in an individual event? The answer was 1972 with Mary Peters. We have won team gold since then, and other medals both individual and team for both GB and Ireland. Our last Northern Irish Paralympians to win golds were three who took home 5 between them in London.

Northern Ireland does have a current world number one in a sport that will be making his Olympic debut in Rio 2016, so we should be looking forward to supporting someone with a real chance of ending that famine. But that world number one golfer Rory McIlroy is wary of the dispute of which flag he should represent. Last night he said if he played for either nation he would upset people so maybe he should take the other option and not take part at all.

Yeah the latest fall out of the entire flags issue is that Northern Ireland's top sportsman is seriously considering not taking up a place at the 2016 Olympics because whoever he chooses to represent he is fearful of upsetting someone. I know some Loyalists who cannot consider supporting an all Ireland team such as the successful Rugby or Cricket teams. Yet the same people will support Ulster in Rugby, they fail to notice ⅓ of the Province is actually not in the UK or that some of the players aren't British! Yes there seriously are people in Northern Ireland who cheered on England against Ireland in the One Day International World Cup despite there being Northern Irish players on the Ireland team and England containing a player from Dublin. 

Yes there really is such a divide in sporting circles here and the ungoing inability of some to respect other communities, democratic decisions on flags or personal preferences seems to be having a knock on effect that top Northern Irish sportspeople may seriously consider not going to the Olympics to achieve a once in four years dream as it will offend others.

I think it is time for those who feel offended by someone choosing who to represent (BTW a right protected in the Good Friday Agreement) to stop being so selfish as to threaten, appear to threaten or cause our best to not seek to gain an Olympic accolade.

Well done to all the flag protestors. You're making it impossible for Northern Irish sport to flourish now.

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