My parents always used to say to me, “It’s not the taking part – it’s the winning that counts.
“Don’t ever come home with a D grade, Don’t ever bring shame on this family by coming last in the egg and spoon race, Who aims to be second? Unless you want to be someone’s second wife, and who wants leftovers?”
I went to the Olympics this year where I watched women’s boxing and men’s basketball. The atmosphere was euphoric, almost electric! I over heard one man saying, “This is better than drugs”. Everyone was happy, helpful, and there was a great sense of union and camaraderie amongst all the people watching.
I turned up to watch the women’s boxing not knowing who was fighting. There was a lot of British flag waving but then we are in Britain, but there were lots of people waving Indian flags too. It turned out that Mary Kom was fighting. She was the only Indian woman boxer to have qualified for the 2012 Olympics. When she came into the ring, the packed arena erupted with shouts of her name. I was surprised at the reaction, I’d never heard of her before. Did people know who she was? Was she well-known? Was she good?
She was amazing and won her fight.
Most of the crowd was British and people stood up for her at the end of the match. I turned to the English man standing next to me and said,
“Why is everyone going mad?”
“Well it’s amazing to see an Indian women boxer, and she’s so good. All those years of repression, not wasted at all!”
The people we will to win, says a lot about us.
When Mohammed Farah was running the 5,000 and 10,000 meters, I didn’t cheer him on because he was Muslim, or Somali born, or black. I cheered him on because he is British and I wanted Britain to win. Would I have cheered on a Pakistani man just because my parents are from Pakistan? No. Because I don’t feel it. And I’d probably pass out from shock anyway, “What’s a Pakistani man doing in the 5,000 meter final? Hasn’t he got any IT to do?”
Some Pakistani’s will refer to me as a ‘coconut’, some will say I’m a traitor, some will say “who does she think she is? She’s not one of us”.
But why should we support people just because they are the same religion or have the same skin colour as us? Even when someone from the same background as us does something atrocious like murder their wife or dye their beard orange, we are meant to stand there in support and say “Well done”.
Instead of “you idiot, why did you do that? Now the whole world will think we’re psycho’s with a genetic mutation”.
Sarah Attar was the first Saudi track athlete to take part in the Olympics, the Saudi Olympic committee only allowed women to take part this June and the female athletes walked behind the male Saudi athletes in the Opening Ceremony.
She ran in her 800 meters heats wearing a hijab in the sweltering heat and came last. 80,000 people gave her a standing ovation. They didn’t stand for the winner or those that came second or third, they stood up for the woman who came last and who finished 45 seconds after the winner. That’s what I love about the British people, always supporting the under dog and doing what they feel.
I didn’t hear anyone calling those 80,000 people traitors, or Saudi lovers. They did what they felt was right at the time. If only all cultures were like this instead of thinking that we constantly owe something to each other, and that we have to be seen standing in unison even though we don’t like or agree with the people we’re standing with.
We don’t owe anybody anything; our only job is to be loyal to the truth.
Sometimes it’s not the winning that counts; it really is the taking part.
The author is an award winning stand-up comedian and writer. She has performed all over the world. A columnist for The Guardian UK, she was named Columnist of the Year at the prestigious PPA Awards. Find out more from her website.
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