The Observer (Kampala)

13 September 2012

Uganda: Vianney Nsimbe - Hats Off to the British for Their Olympic Spirit

opinion

The Paralympics have been branded the best ever and I agree.

I don't recall who the most outstanding Paralympians were at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics, but this year, the best were in my face.

Over the last one week, there has been a lot to celebrate. First, as the adage goes, "there is no bad win". So it would be really unbecoming if we begrudged the Zambians a chance to celebrate their slim 1-0 win over Uganda in last Saturday's 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers. But, while it isn't in my nature to rejoice in defeat, this is football and we know that in a two-legged tie, a team that loses by the same margin as Uganda did in the first tie would celebrate.

The Cranes should indeed have South Africa (hosts of the 2013 Nations Cup in January) within their sight. There have been other exciting moments as well: Serena Williams winning her 15th Grand Slam title at the US Open, Andy Murray's first tennis Grand Slam, the first by a British player in 76 years and Andres Iniesta's European Footballer of the Year Award.

However, nothing has been markedly outstanding than the 2012 London Paralympics. For the first time in my life, I watched the Paralympics religiously. And given how the entire event panned out, I take my hat off for the British. Regardless of how we feel about the Brits, they are fantastic marketeers and promoters of anything British.

Just see how the English Premier League has been marketed around the world - apparently as the best football league. The Paralympics have been branded the best ever and I agree. I don't recall who the most outstanding Paralympians were at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics, but this year, the best were in my face.

Listening to the BBC's commentary on the race between South Africa's Oscar Pistorius and Brazil's Alan Oliveira sledge it out for the gold medal in the 400 metres race, the commentator, Alex Capstick, left me in awe. Although sometimes the British over-hype their glories as if they have just happened (the 1966 World Cup for example), but we have to face it: in order to sell, you have to brand and speak for your product as if it's the best on the shelves.

That is what the British have mustered. Of course it is advantageous to be financially able, but then again, sometimes it boils down to sheer will and tenacity. This is something we could learn from although, we being Ugandans, it's indeed a long shot given our propensity to self-destruct.

See, here, we will sabotage a good sponsor like SuperSport who can advertise our footballers across the borders simply because we didn't get a kick back off that sponsorship package. Or, because we aren't the ones handling the Shs 120m from Nile Breweries for the football awards, we frustrate them into oblivion.

We lose sight of the fact that when our sports industry grows, everyone benefits. So, as we build our international pedigree in this golden Jubilee year, we will look at Kiprotich's triumph and pat ourselves on the back. But soon, the hype will die down.

Not for the British though. This Andy Murray triumph at the US Open will be drummed up for years as the game is promoted in the British Isles.

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