Sporting Heroes: July

I had been wondering who would fill this column for July, as there are a few major sporting events going on at the moment. As I type this, Roger & Novak are tearing up Centre Court at Wimbledon, and this time next week we will be closing in on the World Cup Final. Later on in July we also have a mouthwatering test series between England & India, and whilst that gets underway we have the Commonwealth Games to look forward to, which should see plenty of our elite athletes having their chance to shine.


But watching the British GP today I felt I had to award this one to Lewis Hamilton, after a fantastic second home victory at the home of racing: Silverstone.  As British sports fans know, we need to make the most of victories like this, as you never know when the next one will come around again! After starting the season with a flyer, Lewis has trailed behind Nico after some technical problems, but despite this has been the fastest driver in nearly every race.

During his victory speech today, Lewis echoed one of my own phrases I have used in my other blogs, such as after the Avenger. He had previously had a tough qualifying day, after pulling out of his qualifying lap despite being on course to take pole, meaning he had to start from the third row: “This weekend shows you never give up”, he said, a motto that we all should live by.

Lewis has an amazing record for a guy of 29, with hopefully years more to compete in him. Let’s look at the facts: He was one of the youngest world champions ever, after an unbelievable victory in the 2008 season. He has now won the second most races of all British drivers, and most people would expect him to be overtaking Nigel Mansell and his moustache by the end of this season to be number one. He also has the most Pole starts of all UK drivers, 4th on the all time list.

Whilst F1 gets a fair bit of criticism from fans saying it can be boring, predictable, etc – and over the previous seasons I have been one of them – whenever Lewis is involved this can never be the case. Yes, there is some home support bias here, but he is a genuinely exciting guy to support. Sometimes this means incredible speed, daring and skill, but almost as often it can mean unpredictability and controversy. One minute he might be pulling off incredible overtaking maneuvers, the next he will be saying something daft in a press conference or online. It is all part of the fun!

One thing this does make me realise is how it can be strange to be older than some of your sporting heroes. Most of the people I have here have been folks I grew up watching and idolising on TV or film, but in this case I am actually a few years older than Lewis, which is kind of a strange feeling. Yes, I am also older than most of the kids playing in the Premier League, and it can be a bit upsetting when people refer to guys like Fernando Alonso & Roger Federer as ‘old & past it’ when they are the same age as me… but I guess that is all part of maturity. So it must be good to have some heroes you can look upon as perhaps a successful younger brother – at least I will always be able to give the ‘it was even harder back in my day’ speech to them!

Ange silverstone

Although I had to watch today’s race on TV (unlike my sister Lucy who was actually there!) I did manage to get to Silverstone a month or so ago. And instead of Lewis in the picture above, it is actually my wife Ange, fulfilling one of their lifetime dreams to be able to drive a Ferrari, and on the Grand Prix circuit no less! I am not sure what the speedo was doing at that point in her lap, but U expect it was more than enough to give the Red Bull team a run for their money…

I will add a mention here for Lewis’ ex-team mate and rival, who is amazingly the most experienced driver in the current field, Jenson Button. As well as a great driver, and also former world champ, Jenson is a massive triathlon fan, to the point where he even has his own race! Sadly I will be unable to make it this year due to being in Chile, but perhaps one for the future. In the meantime, here is to the second half of this F1 season continuing to be as exciting as it has been so far.


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