Wednesday, February 19, 2014

It's Silver for the Scolympians! (At least.)

Well, it's probably high time that I lived up to my billing as a curling obsessive by writing something about the dramatic events in Sochi.  It's weird how it all turns out - I said at the start of the competition that maybe Murdoch and his men's team could nick a medal, but that Eve Muirhead's rink would go in as slight favourites for gold on the women's side.  I think they certainly warranted the tag as favourites in spite of Canada being represented by the formidable Jennifer Jones rink, but I now gather that Canada were the marginal favourites in the actual betting.  Either way, though, the GB women certainly looked a better bet for gold than the men, and the way events have unfolded is a reverse of 1998 and 2002, when it was the men who started out as the great prospects, but it was the women who came through to make the semis.  We're in a much better position this time, of course, because both teams may yet win medals, but at the very least the men are going to end up with a better colour.

As for any marginal political impact, it's hard to say.  After Murdoch's incredible winning shot against Norway yesterday, I saw an Englishman tweet that "there has never been a better time for Alex Salmond to make the case for independence", which is certainly perfectly logical.  If Scotland was independent, quite literally the only difference would be that Murdoch's team would be claiming a medal for Team Scotland rather than Team GB.  There are no problems in terms of funding or resources - not only are the players all Scottish, all the curling facilities are in Scotland, and as one of our top sports any Scottish funding body would be pumping money into curling like crazy.  All the same, if the gold is secured on Friday, we can still look forward to the familiar contortions of logic from the London media as they arrive at the predictable conclusion that "this is a wonderful day for the union and a hammerblow for Alex Salmond".  (Another one?!)  But right now I think that would be a small price to pay for witnessing one of the all-time great Scolympic moments.

I also remember making the observation a few months ago that if Muirhead's rink won the gold and Scotland voted for independence seven months later, the last ever Olympic gold for Team GB would probably be claimed by an all-Scottish team in a sport with Scottish origins that is barely even played in the rest of the UK.  Well, Muirhead isn't going to pull off that feat, but Murdoch just might.  Wouldn't that be a delicious irony?

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