Eighth in the world: could be worse
Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Tom Daley and Blake Aldridge have fallen out over their 'poor' performance at the Olympics. Boys, you needn't worry

Carrie Quinlan

Kids today, eh? If they're not bunking of school to drink cider in parks, they're ruining our Olympic medal chances. Wasn't like that when I was a teenager. I may have bunked of school to drink cider in Nonsuch Park, but I never let it affect my synchronised diving. Largely because I avoided synchronised diving at all costs. Tom Daley made the opposite choice, bless him. It's hard not to feel sorry for him this week. Not only has he chosen a sport which, though undoubtedly incredibly hard work, comes across as a bit camp, but now he's being blamed by his partner, Blake Aldridge, for a poor performance.

A 26-year-old picking on a 14-year-old is never going to look good. That makes you a bully, doesn't it? Unless the 14-year-old in question was stealing your hubcaps or mugging an old lady, leave him alone! It must be devastating to see your last chance at a medal disappear, but you can't accuse your partner of being immature while you're whining that it was his fault, and when you've had to ring your Mum before your final dive. But it can't have been easy for Aldridge this past year, with Daley getting all the attention. Poor old Blake (and I use the term "old" advisedly) must know how the little snaggly-toothed Chinese girl who sang the patriotic song at the opening ceremony feels. The lesson is, only be in a partnership with someone less media-savvy and photogenic than you. Ask Donald Fagen. Steely Dan's the only band in the universe in which he'd be the good looking one.

But hang on a minute. You're eighth in the world at a sport! Admittedly, a slightly weird sport, but eighth! That's brilliant! I'm not eighth in the world at anything. I'm probably not even the eighth best Carrie Quinlan in the world, because I know for a fact there's one who's a star on the University of Buffalo swim team. Eighth in the world, dude! Do you know how many people there are in the world? Loads, probably. Definintely more than nine. Well done, the pair of you.

I always used to envy the sporty kids at school, but I'm starting to think I was lucky. My complete lack of physical ability meant a corresponding complete lack of pressure, a complete lack of having to get up early, and a complete lack of having to watch what I ate. Not that I didn't have dreams. I've only recently accepted that I'll never win Wimbledon and, unless the Hangman 2 quiz machine becomes an Olympic sport, I'm soon going to have to give up my medal hopes. But I'm probably more sporty than I ever was at school, and happier, which makes me believe that balance is the key. Tom and Blake, when you get home, try drinking some cider in a park. Worked for me.
Carrie Quinlan is an actor and comedy writer.

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