Goodbye and good riddance to Plucky Britannia
22:48 GMT, 12 August 2012
After you woke up on Monday suffering a severe bout of post-Olympic blues, wondering how on earth you will cope without watching handball highlights or applauding a horse dancing to The Lion King, spare a thought for a species on the verge of extinction.
In an Olympic Games that has seemed to have just about everything, something has been missing: the Plucky Brit.
Have you seen one lately No, me neither – not since Wimbledon finished, anyway.
Plucky The likes of Nicola Adams (left) showed that Brits are better than admirable losers
British sport, all of a sudden, is not
about getting kitted out and having a go, it's about winning – or at
least performing to your best and coming close.
When asked what prompted nine British rowing medals at London 2012 – including the first three golds for our women – Katherine Grainger's answer was simple.
'We saw that British sport could win,' she said. 'We looked at it and thought, “We want some of that”.'
This team, particularly those who have competed in rowing and cycling, are now underpinned by a belief that says making a final isn't good enough.
It's just the next step in trying to reach your potential; an opportunity to strive for the very best you can be. If that results in a personal best then you've done your job; if you win a medal, even better.
'It was about creating a cultural shift where we said coming 10th in the medals table isn't good enough,' Baroness Sue Campbell, chair – woman of UK Sport, told me earlier this year.
'And everybody said, “Really” and I said, “Absolutely. We're going to pitch for fourth”. Oh my Lord.' Oh Lord indeed.
Potential: Lawrence Okoye finished last in the discus final
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Forget fourth. Great Britain, a country of 60 million people, have finished third in the medals table. Third!
It's 1920 all over again. We're not necessarily comfortable with all this unqualified glory. I'm not sure we can quite believe it, actually. We laugh or retreat to self deprecation because it's not a very British thing to bask in the sheer magnitude of it all.
But this isn't a red, white and blue version of Canada's horrendous 'Own the Podium' campaign at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
This is British sport getting savvy. The taking part still counts, of course it does, but it's now the manner in which you take part, not just putting your name on the start list.
I've been accused in some quarters of being a witch after I suggested Great Britain's field events, particularly the throwers, weren't good enough at this Olympic Games.
We had representatives in only three of the eight throwing finals in the Olympic Stadium and came last in all of them.
The three finalists – Alex Smith and Sophie Hitchon in the hammer and Lawrence Okoye in the discus – have an average age of 22.
They all have outstanding potential but none of them threw to the very best of their ability on the greatest stage of all: an Olympic final on home soil. Set against the exacting standards of this British team, that can only be viewed as a disappointment.
Of course that's a harsh judgment on three very promising athletes, but that's the nature of sport in this country now.
We're no longer there to make up the numbers, pat each other on the back and say, 'Well done'.
The Plucky Brit belongs to another era of have-a-go heroes, before British sport became a profession as opposed to a pastime. May he rest in peace.
They said what!
Gre at Britain's Lisa Dobriskey reacts after seeing Cakir Alptekin, who has served a two-year drugs ban, win gold in the 1500 metres. 'I'll probably get into trouble for saying this but I don't believe I'm competing on a level playing field,' she said. Some accused Dobriskey, who came 10th, of sour grapes, but she was asked a straight question and gave a straight answer. Good for her.
Straight talking: Lisa Dobriskey gave an admirable answer after finishing 10th in the 1,500m
…And this is what I've been doing this week
Take a deep breath: covering boxing, showjumping, athletics, more athletics, BMX, hockey, more BMX, football and modern pentathlon. I'm exhausted but I've loved every second.
Thinking they really should make the Olympic BMX final a best-of-three race. It's too much of a lottery to do only one run. I felt the over-riding element of luck spoilt the credibility of what was a thrilling spectator sport at London 2012. Six hours of BMX wasn't enough, either. More next time in Rio, please!
Screaming myself hoarse in Hyde Park on Saturday cheering for Mo Farah in the 5,000m.
It was a special occasion to share with my family and thousands of other Britons watching on the big screen.
As Steve Cram said in his commentary, we're very lucky to have him.
Performance of the week
Nicola Adams's gold medal in the women's boxing. She made history as the first female to win in an event making its debut in London.
I hope she enjoyed her celebratory Nando's as much as we enjoyed watching her become an Olympic champion.