We’re doing ok in the Winter Olympics. A grand total of four medals, three bronze and one gold, have us placing 18th overall.
Norway, Germany and Canada have the podium places with 38, 28, and 29 medals respectively, no particular surprises there, with Kazakhstan, Latvia and Liechtenstein all tying for 25th place at the bottom of the table.
The Winter Olympics as we know them began in 1924 in France with just five sports – bobsleigh, curling, ice hockey, Nordic skiing and skating – which encompassed nine individual disciplines.
Now, fifteen sports with around one hundred individual events can be seen at the 23rd winter games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
These games have not been without their intrigue. From problematic weather conditions to the ever-present spectre of doping allegations, headlines have abounded, as usual.
North Korea, however, provided these games with a story to set it apart from the rest when they announced that their ice hockey team would be competing with the South Korean athletes in a unified Korean team. The move, especially given the high tensions surrounding the state and their leader Kim Jong-un, was shocking and, it turns out, not particularly successful.
A number of doping allegations have been levelled at competitors too, most interestingly Alexander Krushelnitsky, a medal-winning Russian curler, or all things. Many may find themselves somewhat perplexed as to how drugs would be useful in as technical a sport as curling, although the intense brushing does genuinely look like very hard work, and indeed Krushelnitsky has vehemently denied using banned substances after testing positive for meldonium, a drug designed to increase blood flow when used over long periods of time.
The allegations have reignited debate around Russian athletes at the Olympics after a considerable number of the nation’s competitors were found to be in violation of doping rules at the 2016 summer games in Brazil.
From a British perspective, however, curling is looking promising as the women’s team, lead by bronze medal winner Eve Muirhead, reached the semi-finals following an enrapturing 6-5 victory against Canada.
The outlook for the men’s team is somewhat bleaker after suffering a crushing defeat at the hands of the Americans, forcing GB to win their upcoming match with Switzerland if they want a place in the final four.
These winter games have, thus far, been quite a ride and will continue to be so for a few more days yet. Despite some darker problems arising, as they often do at such events, a lot of good has come out of Pyeongchang over the last two weeks or so.
Of particular note are skaters Adam Rippon and Eric Radford, of the US and Canada respectively, who have become the first two openly gay athletes to gain podium places at the winter Olympic games. The Olympics have always been effective at inspiring good in the world. In ancient times wars were halted while the games took place.
Now, thousands of years later we use that same platform to show solidarity, exact social change and, yes, to bury the hatchet occasionally and put aside our differences, even if it is only for a few ice hockey games.