Olympics

The country appears to be divided between those who never want to hear the word "Olympics" again, and would rather the games didn't come to London, and those who are fired up by our success in Beijing and can't wait for 2012.

I'm 100 per cent in the pro-Olympics camp.  I think it's great that we'll be the hosting the next games and our achievements in China have just been fantastic.

As I write, we're third in the medals table, with 17 golds and 39 medals in total.  Not bad when the two countries ahead of us are far bigger. 

And of course it's been great fun to beat the ever-competitive Australia.  Last week they joked that Britain wasn't doing too badly in the swimming events for a country with "few pools and not very much soap", and that we were only winning in sports where we were sitting down.  When Christine Ohuruogu stormed through to win the 400 metres gold for us, they shut up.

There are quite a few contestants from West Sussex and the biggest pleasure of all for local people must have been to watch Tina Cook from Findon win her double bronze in the three day eventing. 

Apart from my elation, there are some serious lessons from Beijing.  The investment in young sportspeople and facilities through the lottery has paid huge dividends.

And no amount of false declarations of "Britishness" or calls to fly flags by politicians can match the simple expression of patriotic pride by athletes who literally wrap themselves in the union flag when they have won.

I confess to a slight concern that we talk about "Team GB" when we really mean "Team UK" to include Northern Ireland.

And I know that it will cost a lot of money to host the 2012 Olympics.  But the unifying impact of sporting success on national morale, and the encouragement for young aspiring sportsmen and women, is priceless.

Michelle Taylor