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SBD Global/August 7, 2012/Olympics

Cry Me A River: Emotional Displays At The London Games Seem 'Not Very British'

Great Britain's Mo Farah reacts after winning the 10,000m run Saturday in London.
The London Games have become "the Crying Games," a time when Great Britain's winning athletes allow their "emotions to rule the waves and nearly drown Britannia in a torrent of jubilation, despair and sporting tears," according to Peter Simpson of the SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST. Team GB is "bagging golds like wining contestants in a supermarket spree," and they would do well to "raid the tissue and napkin aisle for they are sure to win gold for blubbing." Inside the Olympic Stadium, at the Velodrome and at the rowing, the tears "flowed down the tiers of the stands on Snobbing Saturday." The two Gold Medals in quick succession at rowing and cycling on Saturday "soaked handkerchiefs and things never dried up from there." The Gold Medal-winning men rowers, Pete Reed, Andy Triggs Hodge, Tom James and Alex Gregory were also "welling up, and there was concern if they blubbed into the Eton Dorney rowing lake the Olympics would be put on an amber flood alert" (SCMP, 8/6).

OLYMPIC EMOTION: REUTERS' Paul Casciato wrote that "royal hugs in public, quivering lips on the podium and the deafening roar of the home crowd urging on their athletes" at the London Games shows 21st century Britain has "finally shed its reserved imperial-era persona." Britons -- who often sniff at public emotion as a foreign lapse of control -- "have wept, screamed for their heroes and been overcome with Olympian emotion at the triumphs and tragedies of sport." Now the nation, which invented football, rugby, cricket and modern field hockey has thrown its arms wide open to the Olympics in the most public display of emotions in a decade and a half. The queen's grandchildren "have grasped the emotional baton," granddaughter Zara Phillips won an equestrian silver and her cousins have graced the grandstands for some of the nation's greatest sporting moments, with Prince William and his "photogenic young wife Kate snapped in a jubilant embrace" after cyclist Chris Hoy's Gold Medal win. A man dressed in sports gear made the rounds of a packed Stratford Underground station at the Olympic Park "hugging each female police officers" and a beefy bobby on crowd control duty nearby just shrugged. British troops have turned into another ray of light at the Games, smiling, helpful, doing conga lines at some events and providing the kind of satisfying reassurance that if there is any bother the Royal Marines are on hand (REUTERS, 8/6).

COMMENTATORS JOIN IN: In London, Peter McKay wrote that the BBC's John Inverdale, a rugby expert, "shed tears while interviewing the U.K. double sculls team after they lost to the Danes." He told viewers: "Emotions, emotions. Goodness me, especially  when you know these people and you know them pretty well. It's quite, it's quite hard being here as well." As Somali-born British athlete Mo Farah closed in his Gold Medal for 10,000m, a commentator reported: "There was an incredulous edge to the noise as the crowd engaged with an event that is, in truth, relatively alien to the British... This really was too much. Soldiers embraced in the Olympic family seats. Women with flags yowled and shrieked and embraced anybody within reach. This really was something new..." McKay also wrote: "Surely we've never experienced before such an outpouring -- hyper-exultant athletes, both male and female, literally chocked with emotion, or openly weeping? He continued: "Sobbing runners, rowers, judo stars, long jump medalists. Blubbing spectators and TV viewers, caterwauling teens, checking out the Olympics action on their mobile phones. What has happened to the modern British tradition of keeping calm in good times and bad?" (DAILY MAIL, 8/6).
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Olympics, Europe, United Kingdom

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