Let’s not get distracted by Olympics

I fear there is rather too much truth for comfort embodied in the rather intemperate letter from Richard West carried in last week’s issue.

Big Sport is out of control (as is the Borders railway and Edinburgh trams) and this is confirmed by the front-page headline touting for cash using the code “incredible levels of competition” to essentially argue that if everybody else is spending, we must too. This is a pernicious argument and common sense tells us that if we find ourselves on such a bandwagon the rational thing to do is to get off.

There is merit in sport at school, but huge investment is not required, especially in the current climate, and the link between school sport and what we all could not help seeing at Stratford is tenuous at best. Elite athletes are a special breed and not many of us would wish to emulate them.

At immense expense, using intense training and, as rumour has it, drugs, one changes the body from a normal one to a specialised one, fitted for the sport to be undertaken, but often at the risk of impairing health in the long term.

There is no such thing as a free lunch.

One of my sons plays professional rugby and on occasion turns out for Scotland, and the changes wrought in his body by the training regime to which he is exposed are spectacular.

Any integrity to which Olympic sport may pretend is destroyed by the level of corporate sponsorship and there is little doubt that the Lottery contribution could be better spent. The jingoism which we saw lurking very near the surface during the Olympics – the same jingoism underlying the wholly-lamentable position of the Westminster Government in the Julian Assange embassy fiasco – is to be profoundly regretted.

It is clear that government, and this includes the Scottish Government, must get real and ignore Olympian distractions to concentrate on business, essential infrastructure and jobs, which is the only way forward in a situation which daily seems to get worse beyond any imagination.

Robin Cross

Netherby House

Galashiels

How sad I feel for Richard West (letters, August 16) to learn of his utter hatred of the Olympic Games, which the UK was fortunate enough to succeed in its bid to stage the event.

Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed the Games, as did many people I know. The event figured in many of my conversations with family, friends and work colleagues.

As a country we seemed, in my mind, to really get behind and support Team GB. Indeed it was an Olympic Games in which our nations’ athletes (particularly the Scots) excelled, exceeding all expectations. It makes me very proud of their achievements.

A word of warning, Mr West – the 2014 Commonwealth Games take place in Glasgow between July 23 and August 3. Perhaps consider booking your flights now.

Ewan McDonald

Douglas Crescent

Kelso

What a sad, bigoted and mean-spirited letter written by Richard West (August 16).

As a proud Scotsman, which he appears to be, surely he would be overjoyed by the Olympics medal-winning performances from the Scottish athletes in many sports.

Contrary to his beliefs that no one “up here” was interested in the Olympics, everyone I spoke to was immersed in the fantastic spectacle and proud to be British.

Sue Brooks

Denholm