THE NEWSDESK: Back the athletes putting in the hard yards away from our TV screens

THE NEWSDESK: Back the athletes putting in the hard yards away from our TV screens

Wales's Elena Allen in action on her way to a Silver Medal in the Skeet Women Final at the Barry Buddon Shooting Centre in Carnoustie, during the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 25, 2014. See PA stor

SILVER: Newport's Elena Allen on the podium following the skeet women's final

First published in News
Last updated

THE best thing about the Commonwealth Games, for me, isn't the appearance of sporting superstars like Usain Bolt.

It's the opportunity to see sports which are normally bereft of TV airtime.

In this country, when it comes to sport on TV, we're a bit like our grandparents' obsession with meat and two veg. It's football, rugby, cricket, boxing, a little athletics, tennis for a couple of weeks a year, horseracing.

Yet, of course, there are thousands of people across the country regularly taking part in sports which are entertaining, dramatic, engaging, but which only see the light of day on TV during the Commonwealth Games or the Olympics.

Skeet shooting - where Newport's Elena Allen won silver - is a classic example.

It's visual, there is great tension, but this sport hardly ever gets TV coverage.

And the list goes on and on.

Hockey, netball, judo, rhythmic gymnastics, squash, bowls...

The problem is that without TV coverage, sports like these struggle to attract money into them.

Many of their participants struggle to get proper funding.

They do it for love of their sport, like shooter Michael Gault, a 60-year-old grandfather from Norfolk, who equalled the record for Commonwealth medals in any sport by bagging an 18th podium place.

He became the most decorated man in English sporting history when he won the bronze medal in the 10-metre air pistol shooting discipline at Carnoustie golf course.

His haul of medals puts him equal in posterity with the Australian shooter Philip Adams. And today (Monday), he has the chance to better that extraordinary achievement when he goes again at the longer distance 50 metre shoot-out.

Yet in six months' time no one would recognise him in the street outside his native Norfolk.

I can't help comparing that with the frankly silly sums of money being bandied about for footballers whose achievements don't come close.

Two sports which have made that TV breakthrough are swimming and cycling.

Who would have predicted cycling's massive rise ten years ago?

From the Olympics to the vast numbers of people now taking part in the sport regularly on our roads and in our velodromes.

And swimming has created TV superstars like Ian Thorpe and Rebecca Adlington to inspire the next generation.

As a result, money from sponsorship and advertising has poured into those sports, making the daily lives and training of those who take part in it so much easier.

We created TV demand for those sports because we have come to love them.

Which is just the way it should be. The public setting the agenda.

So this Commonwealth Games, watch the goal-saving heroics of the Wales men's hockey team goalkeeper David Kettle, watch our shooters, support our judokas, and back our bowlers.

Because while millionaire footballers are having it easy, they are juggling families, jobs, training and fitness without the prospect of huge financial reward.

IT hasn't been an easy build-up to the games by Team Wales - particularly the cloud currently hanging over Rhys Williams and Gareth Warburton.

So it has been fantastic to see two gold medals being won by Frankie Jones and Natalie Powell.

Gymnast Frankie won so many medals (one gold and five silver) that on close of play on Saturday, had she been a country in her own right, she would have been ninth in the medal table.

Her achievements were a significant part of Wales' haul of 17 medals by the end of our super Saturday.

Her dad Colin Jones, who hails from Pontypool, was rightly bursting with pride at her golden swansong in gymnastic competition.

Few would not have been moved by her gold medal ceremony.

And all those people who pooh pooh whether rhythmic gymnastics is a sport have been strangely silent in the last 24 hours.

Comments (5)

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2:30pm Sun 27 Jul 14

Katie Re-Registered says...

The best thing about the Commonwealth Games for me was the gay kiss because it sent out the message to those participating nations including Britain which still do not have equal rights for LGBTQ people that we're coming, they'll get their day of reckoning soon and ain't nobody gonna stop us!

*Besides, bigot-baiting is fun and I feel it should be a recognised sport and we don't even need to borrow Elena's twelve bore shotgun to bag up flocks of homophobes and transphobes as with every 'yours disgusted' hoot they make they shoot themselves in the foot....tally ho, eh?!:)
The best thing about the Commonwealth Games for me was the gay kiss because it sent out the message to those participating nations including Britain which still do not have equal rights for LGBTQ people that we're coming, they'll get their day of reckoning soon and ain't nobody gonna stop us! *Besides, bigot-baiting is fun and I feel it should be a recognised sport and we don't even need to borrow Elena's twelve bore shotgun to bag up flocks of homophobes and transphobes as with every 'yours disgusted' hoot they make they shoot themselves in the foot....tally ho, eh?!:) Katie Re-Registered
  • Score: -10

2:44pm Sun 27 Jul 14

Warbles says...

here we go again ….. yawn, yawn …..
here we go again ….. yawn, yawn ….. Warbles
  • Score: 2

2:49pm Sun 27 Jul 14

Mr Bump. says...

Katie Re-Registered wrote:
The best thing about the Commonwealth Games for me was the gay kiss because it sent out the message to those participating nations including Britain which still do not have equal rights for LGBTQ people that we're coming, they'll get their day of reckoning soon and ain't nobody gonna stop us!

*Besides, bigot-baiting is fun and I feel it should be a recognised sport and we don't even need to borrow Elena's twelve bore shotgun to bag up flocks of homophobes and transphobes as with every 'yours disgusted' hoot they make they shoot themselves in the foot....tally ho, eh?!:)
In my opinion it was out of place and not needed in an opening ceremony for a sporting event. Irrespective of the fact i found it stomach churning, it was out of place. A kiss between a man and woman would have been out of place too. It was an opening ceremony for a sporting event for crying out loud. Footballers have been kissing each other for decades no one bats an eyelid. But this rather awkward fumbled kiss between two men was not needed. And you bang on about equality. Where was the straight Kiss? Why should you pigeon holed bunch have your kiss, but the vast majority of straight people go without? Equality, My A@se.
[quote][p][bold]Katie Re-Registered[/bold] wrote: The best thing about the Commonwealth Games for me was the gay kiss because it sent out the message to those participating nations including Britain which still do not have equal rights for LGBTQ people that we're coming, they'll get their day of reckoning soon and ain't nobody gonna stop us! *Besides, bigot-baiting is fun and I feel it should be a recognised sport and we don't even need to borrow Elena's twelve bore shotgun to bag up flocks of homophobes and transphobes as with every 'yours disgusted' hoot they make they shoot themselves in the foot....tally ho, eh?!:)[/p][/quote]In my opinion it was out of place and not needed in an opening ceremony for a sporting event. Irrespective of the fact i found it stomach churning, it was out of place. A kiss between a man and woman would have been out of place too. It was an opening ceremony for a sporting event for crying out loud. Footballers have been kissing each other for decades no one bats an eyelid. But this rather awkward fumbled kiss between two men was not needed. And you bang on about equality. Where was the straight Kiss? Why should you pigeon holed bunch have your kiss, but the vast majority of straight people go without? Equality, My A@se. Mr Bump.
  • Score: 4

5:14pm Sun 27 Jul 14

golfer says...

Rhythmic prancing around ..bowls ..shooting ..netball are not really gold medal sports worth watching ..hardly record breaking viewing ..they'll have fishing next ..let's be honest it's all about usain bolt and his 100 metres running ..the rest in a turn off .,get the premier legue football back ..
Rhythmic prancing around ..bowls ..shooting ..netball are not really gold medal sports worth watching ..hardly record breaking viewing ..they'll have fishing next ..let's be honest it's all about usain bolt and his 100 metres running ..the rest in a turn off .,get the premier legue football back .. golfer
  • Score: -6

7:52am Mon 28 Jul 14

Walter Devereux says...

Premier League football is garbage. So much diving, so little talent. Support your local team!
Premier League football is garbage. So much diving, so little talent. Support your local team! Walter Devereux
  • Score: 1

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