The Fantastic Spectacle of Sport

The Fantastic Spectacle of Sport

It’s been 7 years in the making, cost millions of pounds to put on and in just over 3 weeks it’s all wrapped up! That’s right folks this is an Olympic focused blog!

Now it has been hard to miss all this Olympic hype and I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have. Not an evening or weekend went by during the games when I had the coverage tuned in to a sport that normally I wouldn’t find interesting, but there I was – hooked! Who knew running would be so interesting!

I was sceptical in the years leading up to the games that typical of British construction the park wouldn’t be finished on time or there would be a builder borrowing some of the long jump sand to finish the West Stand, but no, I believe it has been a superb success and made me feel very proud to be British. But it’s not only the pride I’m feeling of such a successful games: ‘Inspire a generation’ the potentially cheesy justification of our hard paid taxes has also infected me with the need to try new sports, maybe you might see me on a Basketball court near you soon! And maybe you have also been infected by the bug to try a new sport, why not get in contact with or call her on 01628 501547 to see what events and challenges we are running and that you can be involved with.

I was lucky enough to get tickets to see 5th-6th classification of the Women’s Hockey – a fine match between Australia and China. Naturally I was supporting our Australian cousins and am pleased to report a 2-0 victory, hooray. The experience of the Games in real life is superb, so I urge you to consider trying to get tickets for the Paralympics. NRAS has been supporting Paralympic Archer Leigh Walmsley, who lives with rheumatoid arthritis, and her quest for Gold in the Women’s Recurve category. For those of you on twitter she is @auberginearcher, please wish her luck.

I’ll close with a skirt around the G4S security blunders and just say that the men and women of our armed forces, who stepped up and filled the void, were just fantastic. They could not have been more welcoming, helpful and cheerful, and that goes for all of the volunteers who made the Games, as Lord Coe said ‘When our time came, Britain we did it right’ and when the time comes for the Paralympic Games, you know we will be 2 for 2.


Oliver Hoare

NRAS Trust and Grants Fundraiser.

14 Replies

  • Did anyone see the bbc2 film about the founding of the Paralympics on Thursday night.? Inspiring stuff

  • Oli - I misread your blog. I thought it was about the Paralympics. I'm not a great sports fan, but I will be much more inspired by the sight of people who are overcoming disabilities than the toned whole bodies competing. Its great to see that, but I think the Paralympics are actually much more relevant to us than the Olympics that has just passed. That's why I referred to The Best of Men! Still on iplayer

  • I've noticed that NRAS focuses quite a lot on sports on the homepage - so how about focusing more on the arts Oliver? We have the Edinburgh festival now running and loads of mainstream and more obscure/ cutting edge things going on across the UK year in year out to celebrate. Sport has recently taken a huge whack of the funding away from UK culture/ arts councils and arts companies/ creative industries.

    How about we focus on an artist such as Tacita Dean who had a huge show at the Turbine Hall recently and also has RA - or chefs such as Delia Smith who suffers from RA too I've read? It's great that you have found yourself watching the less obvious sports on tv but perhaps now it's time for NRAS to get similarly engaged in the wealth of artistic activity going on across the UK too? Many on HU love music and use craft and art and cooking and music as a way of diverting themselves from the pain of RA. Olympic sporting prowess is somewhat harder for us on this site to relate to although although it's great to keep moving of course and like Cathie I'm more interested in those overcoming adversity in the forthcoming paralympics! I'll look out for Leigh Walmsley and perhaps you could look out for and support some artists, musicians, actors and writers with RA too? Tilda

  • Thanks for bringing attention to this article Tilda. It is sad that money is leaving the arts. But how great that the rheumatoid is 'by the way' and not the main focus. Tacita is seen as the artist who just happens to have rheumatoid not a person disabled by rheumatoid who happens to be an artist.

    I realise this is not a comment in context but it is so great that the person and who she is is seen first and not the 'disability'. Yes, it is important that this disease is treated seriously but pushing it into the background and being seen for who you are is greatly to be prized.


  • I know I feel exactly like you about her and many other wonderful role models who haven't been pigeonholed or defined by their conditions despite having quite aggressive and debilitating forms of inflammatory arthritis and other long term and incurable conditions.

    This is precisely why I'm being an opportunist here on Oli's blog to say that it's not only sporting prowess that needs celebrating in the context of RA - it's culture in general. I find it quite sad when you consider that the early Olympians included poets and visual artists - these cultural icons weren't all pitted against one another in terms of national celebration and funding.

    The opening ceremony really did allow Danny Boyle to reflect Britain's diversity unexpectedly well - but this isn't what Oli or others are focusing on here and for me it was the highlight in many ways (especially the NHS piece) but sadly only for one night. I don't count the closing ceremony as much because I found it a bit naff and celebrity obsessed in comparison.

    I wish in the parading they had great artists, poets, play writers and musicians and scientists sharing the limelight for Britain - that would have been truly amazing and unique not just a medal count per nation and sporting skill and endevour - rather than arts just there supporting sportspeople. It really upset me that they had super models, many of whom who have done nothing other than parade up and down a catwalk, take too many drugs and have the great fortune (or misfortune?) to be born into beautiful bodies strutting about reflecting Britain. We have so much more worthwhile, talented people to celebrate. Sorry to rant but it really got up my nose...?! Tacita Dean should be there being celebrated too - the Turner prize just isn't quite the same? Tilda x

  • I like your comment tilda. Whenever I see artists who have ra it raises my morale and makes me aware I can still do stuff.

  • I like your comment tilda. Whenever I see artists who have ra it raises my morale and makes me aware I can still do stuff.

  • For me walking and exercise are my anti-depressants and I love pushing myself a bit further all the time but I'm very aware that I'm in a small minority of lucky people on this site and also that this hasn't and might not always be the case for me too - so I think it's important to celebrate all culture not focus too much on sport on this site. Tilda x

  • Tilda, I so agree with your views. The work of the artists, the poets, play writes, musicians and scientists was so evident in the production of the opening ceremony: it would seem only right that some should have been visible and applauded.

    On the radio poetry was emphasised during the Olympics and I suppose that may be the literary and other festivals and awards for the arts are viewed as sufficient, but inclusion of all cultural icons in an Olympics would really be something to look forward to.

    Well Oliver, there's another task to add to your 'To do' list - greater inclusion of all culture in the context of RA.


    Ps: not so long ago there was a play (serialised I think) on the radio in which RA and NICE were featured: it was quite good and I enjoyed listening to it. I think someone on this blog mentioned the possibility of writing a novel. We need a heroine/hero who has RA. It would need to be incredibly well written to avoid sentimentality. Not my life with RA but a good story in which RA has a role. Fifty shades of RA perhaps? A good novel that sold well would certainly bring RA to the fore.

    It's something of a pardox isn't it that while we endeavour to push this disease into the background in our own lives we really need it to be given a higher profile so that we can get the drugs and support we need.

  • It is sometimes difficult to see so much emphasis placed on sport: something that many of us are excluded from.

    However, running, sky diving etc are all activities readily sponsored. To be able to continue to act as an advocate for those of us with RA; to gain, amass and spread the information there is on the subject NRAS needs funds, and sporting activities do generate income.

    I lack the imagination to think of events involving the arts that would bring in this income. Perhaps others have the ideas that would help redress the balance and place more emphasis on the arts. I just do not know how I would have coped with this disease without books and visits to the theatre and occasionally art galleries. RA may exclude you from many things but these were activities I could engage in fully and they kept me sane and joyful.

    It may seem odd to say that I became far more appreciative of life once I developed RA. Of course, I would rather not have had this but it so made me realise how amazing movement and life is and how much I used to take it for granted. Once drugs had given me movement back I found I took far more delight in everything I was able to do.

    Well Tilda, I have certainly done a lot of meandering around this subject and probably contributed nothing useful. But thanks for making me think a little. If there is any wine in the larder tonight I will toast the poets, authors, artists and actors, musicians and scientists that have so enhanced my life. (They may have to make do with soda water though - always the poor relation I hear you say!)

    Long may you stride out and be creative.

    Best wishes


  • I agree with you Jude - about sport being better means to get funding - mainly because I got so sick of being asked to donate artwork for charity auctions during the 80s and 90s when a solo artist living on the breadline trying to make ends meet (nothing's changed hugely!) despite exhibiting and selling work regularly. There are things such as sponsored stitch-ins and knit-ins and charity auctions but I don't actually know how successful these are at raising funds compared to sponsored swims and runs etc. Music however is a big pull re funding - concerts are great for this too. I just think we've had rather a glut of sport lately and by itself it's a bit arid so my enthusiasm for it is becoming tainted. If I was flaring or in pain just now I would be feeling even less enthusiastic! Enjoy your wine - I'm off out for a sing song session with a group from my choir at a friend's house with a composer whose piece we will be singing at September's International Science Festival here! How's that for being a culture vulture? Tilda x

  • Wow, quite a response to my blog, fantastic.

    Well it’s certainly got you thinking, so how do we turn this into support for NRAS? Firstly sport features heavily on the NRAS website because it is the most popular fundraising activity and we must raise funds to provide our support services, such as this blogging site that you are using, however I can certainly appreciate that it may not be appealing to certain people living with RA, so can I ask, what fundraising activities or events would you be interested in, with the arts/culture context you have talked about previously? What do you think you would make an effort to participate in?

    For those who are less able we do try to accommodate for their fundraising needs already with our ‘Tea for 12’ programme; the NRAS quiz, which is new for this year; and more gentle, yet still challenging events (walks and abseils for example), however we do want to increase this.

    I would be grateful for any suggestions that I can circulate with my colleagues as we have tried to engage with people for ideas and as of yet largely come up blank, meaning we will continue to roll out the same fundraising events time and time again! I do like the Knit-ins and Stitch-ins, are these appealing? Anything else?

    TildaT, did you know that we have a number of walks on our events programme? Maybe you would be interested in these?

  • Thanks Oli - my problem is that I live in Orkney which is too far away to join in with NRAS walks. I would like to set up an NRAS group here one day but currently have too much on at home with teenagers and work commitments.

    Some suggestions for possible fundraisers closer to home for you are pantomimes and Xmas plays/ shows and concerts - which always seem to draw in good crowds and fund raising can be done by raffles and ticketing - this is just off the top of my head and from experience of fundraising up here for MS, Cancer and many other worthy causes that my choir often participates in. There is a local group of Arthritis Care based up here but I haven't had anything to do with them yet beyond donating to their various appeals for clothing at the local charity shop etc. They do walks too but never at times when I'm free! I think I've seen them raising money with a Tesco bag packing day once but that's another favourite way of fund raising up here.

    My initial response was to the fact that you asked if we had all enjoyed the Olympic spectacle and I felt duty bound to point out that sport might not be the most favoured spectacle for many with RA. In terms of enjoyment and diversion and therapy for RA sufferers there are many other more relevant and absorbing things going on culturally in the UK than the Olympics. I wasn't addressing the fundraising side of things because you only gave it the smallest of mentions yourself re the Paralympics! Tilda

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