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Mettle transcends bull-headed Brits
GOLDEN promise of home success in this summer’s London Olympic Games gleams brighter than a banker’s diamond bonus.
There’s genuine expectation Team GB will regularly occupy the podium given the success of our swimmers in last month’s World Championships and our stunning, soar-away cyclists in the current Worlds in Melbourne.
Given how the World Indoor Athletics Championships in Istanbul five weeks ago similarly sourced more potential domestic glory, excitement should be rising faster than the Government’s pulse whenever any trade union whispers the word ballot.
But there’s a weevil in the woodwork – the phenomenon of so-called “plastic” Brits.
Debate has flared as to whether such as triple jumper Yamile Aldama, sprint hurdler Tiffany Porter and long jump ace Shara Proctor, should be allowed to wear the Stella McCartney-designed GB colours come the 2012 Olympiad.
For the record, Cuban-born Aldama married a Scotsman in 2001, but was denied British citizenship before eventually gaining that status two years ago.
Now she is a Team GB regular and, in Turkey last month, was crowned the world indoor triple jump champion, the second oldest athlete to achieve that feat at the age of 39.
Porter is an American-born hurdles specialist who, also two years ago, took up British citizenship.
Porter’s father is Nigerian, her mother English, and though born in the United States, she is blessed with both American and British nationality. Eligible to represent both the United States and Great Britain, she opted for GB and was the women’s captain in the indoor championships in Istanbul.
Then there’s Proctor. She hails from the Caribbean island of Anguilla, quaintly designated a British overseas territory. Anguilla does not possess a national Olympic committee and as she holds a British passport she, Aldama and Porter are eminently eligible to represent GB.
Yet all three have been tainted – scandalously – by allegations of some sort of convenient pseudo-Britishness, charges drummed up by the myopic vision of the blinkered little Englander brigade swelling in its own self-importance and vitriolic indignation.
At the press conference after Porter was named the women’s captain for the World Indoor Championships, some questioned whether she could sing all the words to God Save The Queen.
I bet the vast number of people in these islands, who would regard themselves 100 per cent English – if any such nonsensical status truly exists – could not regale any audience with all the words to the nation’s anthem.
After all, there are no fewer than six verses to the dirge, some written in English that is archaic rather than relevant.
And isn’t it so darn convenient that whenever so-called patriots bristle at “non-Brits” they forget the phrase from the fourth verse of GSTQ: “form one family the wide world over”. Hmmmm.
There’s also the question that the lineage of the subject of the anthem owes more to the Continent than our “scept’red isle”. Hmmmm.
So not only is the “plastic Brit” tag hugely offensive to the three athletes unwittingly caught up in the hullabaloo, it is also contrary to British and international law, as well as to history.
All those Lilliputian Englanders should remember British status was conferred on so many millions of people resulting from the tentacles of a rapacious British Empire, which boasted turning a huge chunk of the globe pink.
Rather than decry anyone not born within the peal of Bow Bells, or the echo of one o’clock guns, or within stoutly-defended county borders, or shires of snooty affluence, let’s get behind those talented enough, gutsy enough, and proud enough to fly the GB banner.