For most of my life it has been that British teams and individuals come a valiant second or third, we occasionally win like the 1966 football world cup or the 2003 drop goal spectacular in the Rugby Union World Cup, but generally runners up or knocked out in the semis is what we expect. We show great sportsmanship and do it all normally on a fraction of the budget/facilities of those that win, TV documentaries showing the "nearly" world champion grafting away in some windy dilapidated shed where we all say that it is a miracle they did so well as they contrast other countries with their modern state of the art facilities and armies of support staff raising their athletes to the peak of performance, whilst our guy has to hold down a job as a bus driver to supplement his income.
However last year we did pretty well at the Olympics, above our expectations, a Brit won the Tour de France for the first time ever (and as I write this the tour is led by another Brit - you never know back to back victories?), and so we had a good year, a one off. Errr... but this is now 2013 and... the Lions win in Australia - convincingly in the final analysis of the last test, Andy Murray wins Wimbledon, first Brit since 1936 and clearly the first since the open, professional era. Again reasonably convincingly, in straight sets against the world number 1.
So I ask again - what is going on? We'll win the Ashes as well at this rate. Suddenly it doesn't seem outrageous to expect the Brit(s) to win. Last weekend I went with my daughter to look around Loughborough University, she is considering it as one of her potential choices starting in 2014. We went on a tour of their "world class sporting facilities" - they weren't joking, no draughty shed with a flickering light for the gymnasts to freeze themselves in but a purpose build truly impressive facility - and the athletics indoor facility was beyond words - I never expected to see a shotput pitch (correct term?) upstairs!!
Seeing how the Olympics did unite a nation and also I think success like the Lions and Andy Murray this weekend will generally raise the mood of the nation which is no bad thing and if someone did the research I'd expect you'd be able to say actually the investment from government is paid back in many different ways. Actually I'm now proud to be a Brit due to us winning not just being the gallant losers!