Keith Newbery: Premiership footballers were not in the same league as fellow Olympians

IF IT’S true a picture is worth a thousand words, I can save myself a bit of hard graft this week.

All I need do to sum up the polar opposites within the British Olympic squad is publish photographs of Ryan Giggs and Laura Trott.

He, the grizzled, sullen, multi-millionaire who has confessed to sleeping with his brother’s wife.

She, the fresh-faced, vibrant young woman whose omni-present smile has lit up the thunderous acclaim cyclists have enjoyed in the velodrome over the past couple of weeks.

It’s a striking indictment of the so-called ‘British’ football team that as the people of these islands fell ever deeper into the thrall of this stupendous sporting jamboree, nobody seemed to give a damn about Giggs and his mates.

They were regarded, at best, as an irrelevance, and at worst, as a bunch of pampered mercenaries seeking to leap aboard the Olympic bandwagon in the hope of adding another bauble to their collection.

The pointed and puerile refusal of the five-strong Welsh contingent to sing the national anthem before the start of their first match was totally at odds with the prevailing mood of the Olympics, and made them look like a bunch of sulky rich-kids.

Our athletes, rowers and cyclists, on the other hand, have reminded those of us soured by the excesses and depredations of football at the highest level, just what genuine sporting heroes used to be like.

Since the Premiership was launched 20 years ago, an entire generation has grown up thinking many high-profile sports performers are monosyllabic, expectorating yobs, who swear and cheat as a matter of course.

Then in breezed the likes of Laura Trott, Jason Kenny, Katherine Grainger, Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis to remind everyone there are still some sporting exemplars worthy of the name.

As a consequence, bicycle shops will be booming, people will be looking up the whereabouts of their nearest rowing club and joggers will be everywhere as the full effect of the London Olympics makes itself felt throughout the land.

However, within a few weeks, these Games will be nothing but a special memory as the squalid reality of Premiership football once again pollutes our television screens.

I suspect recent converts to televised sport will find the contrast staggering.

IT’S been difficult to hear the squeaking of politicians above the mighty roar of the Olympics, but our honourable members have been doing their best to make an exhibition of themselves.

Boris Johnson ensured he was left dangling halfway along a zip-line as his PR campaign continued to gather pace – but even he did not find himself stranded as high and dry as the hapless Nick Clegg.

When David Cameron announced that plans for House of Lords reform had been booted into the long grass, the Deputy Prime Minister immediately declared his intention to withdraw support for constituency boundary changes. If throwing toys out of prams ever becomes an Olympic sport, the Lib Dems will sit proudly atop the medals’ table.