London 2012 Part 4: Pundits at their best, and their worst.

Yesterday was the final of the Women’s 1500m and it wasn’t a great race, with no-one really going all out and it made for frustrating viewing. It turned out to be slower than the qualifiers, and for much of the race they all seemed content to just jog around, until the final lap where things did heat up a little, thanks to a fall and a sprint finish, but on the whole, not a fantastic final.

The race was won by Asli Cakir Alptekin of Turkey and it was the country’s first ever athletics gold.

Alptekin- Gold medal winner

Unfortunately, rather than focus on her triumph and history making win, many of the BBC pundits seemed more intent on discussing her own personal history. See, back in 2004 while a junior Alptekin tested positive for illegal substances and received a 2 year ban, which she served before returning to action in 2006.

Now, I’ve written about drugs scandals and my views on them before, but I’ll do a quick rehash here.

I’m not condoning Alptekin’s actions in 2004 in any way, shape or form. She cheated and deserved the punishment that was handed down, however, having done her time and paid for this transgression, I believe she deserves a second chance. Since her return she has finished firs at the Summer Universiade and European Championships, as well as posting a 3rd place finish at the World Indoors.

Given her past offence I can only assume that Alptekin is under even more scrutiny than her fellow athletes and subject to the same anti-doping tests, meaning that in the 6 years since her return she has been clean.

Now, while her performance in the final wasn’t stellar, she did give the best performance on the day and is the deserved Olympic champion. The repeated references to her former wrongdoing and 1984 javelin champion Tessa Sanderson’s view that there should be lifetime bans was a depressingly hardline, unforgiving stance to see.

We’re constantly told that the Olympics are a bastion of noble virtues- sportsmanship, human endeavour, international fellowship, yet it appears that forgiveness and belief in people’s abilities to change seems to have been cast aside by many. Forgiveness is not a sign of weakness, and in fact is one of the nobler and most praiseworthy aspects of human nature.

Rather than repeatedly condemn Aptekin for her mistakes, which led to a rather disgusting incident of the crowd booing her, which is hardly in keeping with the Olympic spirit, perhaps she should be held up as an example of people’s abilities to turn their lives around and redeem themselves. A symbol of hope for those who have problems and make mistakes, rather than someone who’s past is never forgiven and constantly used to attack them.

It also seemed rather hypocritical of the BBC, who earlier on had interviewed Dwain Chambers following the relay team’s loss and been complimentary of the team’s effort with no mention of his own past being made, which is fair enough. But why mention Alptekin’s and not his?

On the flip side of this negative punditry is this clip, featuring Colin Jackson’s hyperactive, enthusiastic response to Usain Bolt’s 100m win earlier on in the tournament. Jackson is a great pundit, a warm, charming presence who seems genuinely positive and enthusiastic about the games.

This clip made me laugh and remains for me one of the games’ best moments, I’m not sure which part is better the “The big man! The big man!” chant or his referring to another competitor as “what’s his name”.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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