Loving Sport – even when you’re Not Very Good ?>

Loving Sport – even when you’re Not Very Good

I’ve always loved sport.

Watching it that is.

As a young child I was fascinated by the Olympic games, avidly following as many sports as I could. I still have the scrapbook I kept from the 1976 games in Montreal.  My father was a keen cricket fan and summers were spent listening to Test Match Special and watching the Sunday League matches on TV.

In the velodrome at London 2012 Olympics

But we weren’t a particularly sporty family. Dad was very much an armchair fan. Fishing was his main activity. Mum was (and is) horse mad and from my early teens it was ponies that were our main occupation.

So there was no real pressure to do lots of sport, which was just as well because when it came to actually taking part there was a slight snag – I was completely useless at everything I tried.

I was always the last pick for school teams at netball and hockey. I’m never quite sure which I hated most.

Running – inevitably at the back.

Racket sports – a disaster.

It took me years of riding before I admitted to myself I was scared of horses.

Could I have been a great cricketer? I don’t know because girls, and especially girls growing up in Scotland, simply didn’t get the chance. Maybe I would have been a great leg spinner!

Having a go

Being rubbish didn’t stop me trying lots of things. Over the years I dabbled in Table Tennis (inept), Trampolining (embarrassing), Ice Skating (managed not to break anything).

I even played in my one and only cricket match. I’d gone along to support my work team (Warwickshire County Council IT dept) and the opposition turned up with only 9 players. So I made my debut playing for Milton Keynes Development Corporation IT dept. Memories are a bit faded. I may have scored a run. I did bowl an over and I think one of the balls wasn’t a wide. MK were roundly beaten and all my colleagues were delighted.

Finally – a sport I could do

Then, in my thirties, I found a sport I could do happily without being humiliated – orienteering.

At the time I lived in Bristol and I spent many great weekends running round the Forest of Dean as well as woods and moorland across the West Country and beyond. My map reading was OK although my running was slow. But the sport was very much geared up to participation and having fun.  I loved it. I even started jogging in an attempt to get fitter.

Meanwhile I met my husband and a couple of years later we moved to France. And I stopped.

Orienteering is a great sport but it is time consuming. Most events are in fairly remote places so travel time can be considerable. And it is not spectator friendly. In the early days Simon was happy to sit in the car and read a book while I got muddy. Once we moved to France we wanted to spend weekends exploring together.

We would go for long walks in the mountains and in the winter we went cross country skiing (fine as long as I stuck to the flat and didn’t try going up or down even the slightest hill).

Venturing out on skis in Austria after a 10 year gap.

Back to the armchair…..

When we moved back to the UK four years later I thought I would take up orienteering again. But I found it hard to motivate myself. We were now in London which meant even more travel to get to decent events. I’d also put on weight and was getting less and less fit.

Then I started my own business and sport and fitness dropped right down my list of priorities. I went back to being an armchair fan.

And there I stayed until cancer gave me the kick up the bum I needed to get myself fit.

Changing attitudes

Fortunately in those years attitudes to sport have changed.

Participation has become valued in it’s own right as we struggle with sedentary lifestyles and obesity. The slow people at the back are now (mostly) applauded and encouraged. Many sports offer taster sessions for adults as well as kids.

Having a go at Biathlon in Austria. And yes, it is as tricky as it looks!

I still enjoy watching sport (when I get the time). But these days I’m more likely to be taking part.

I’m still Not Very Good.

But who cares. I love it.

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