Opinion

May the Best Man Win

20 April 2012 at 01:33 | 1560 views

By Ian Hughes, British High Commissioner to Sierra Leone.

’In the end, the game comes down to one thing: man against man. May the best man win.’ Sam Huff

Wednesday marked one hundred days until the razzmatazz and glitter, strain and glory of the 2012 London Olympic Games. Nations of the world are gathering to celebrate peaceful (but strenuous!) sporting competition and achievement. They will also celebrate innovation and progress: young people will take up new sports: entrepreneurs will snap up opportunities; designers will find inspiration; all because while visiting London we will all have an opportunity to put national differences to one side and do things together. The legacy of the games in Barcelona and Sydney continues to this day. That of London will last for decades.

I don’t know whether Sierra Leone will send a small team to London, as she did to Beijing four years ago. But I’ll bet that Sierra Leoneans will follow the Games passionately anyway because of their fascination for sport of all types.
I haven’t met a Sierra Leonean who does not follow soccer avidly, particularly but not exclusively the English Premiership. But more broadly I’m sure there will be real interest in the cycling, boxing, weight lifting and athletics too. Viewers across the country will join a TV audience of millions stretching across the globe. Together we will cheer on our favorites, celebrate victories, commiserate defeats, and enjoy the diversity and unity of mankind.

I hope that Sierra Leoneans will see in the Olympics a role model for their collective future. Don’t get me wrong: for all their importance, the Games are not life itself. But at their core is a spirit of fairness, a level playing field for all to compete and transparency about who is rewarded for their efforts. These values are important in real life. Successful business needs them: transparency equity and competition attract investment, growth and jobs. Effective democracy is impossible without shared respect for the rules, equality of opportunity and winning on merit. Allowing the brightest minds to shine, the best thinkers to become leaders, the most capable to succeed: therein lies a successful future. I hope Britain and Sierra Leone can work together to instill these values in both our countries. And I hope the Olympics will provide another step along that path.
The Olympics means different things to different people. I’ve told you what I’ll be thinking as I’m watching will discussing this further SLBC radio on Wednesday morning next week. Will you be watching too, and if so, what will it mean to you?

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