13 AUGUST 1948, Page 3

The Olympic Spirit

The Olympic Games end this week, and there is no doubt at all that they have been a success. Despite weather varying latterly from the unreliable to the vile, attendances have been large and public interest, both in this country and throughout the world, has been keen. The astonishing number of records broken may or may not indicate that man is gradually evolving into superman ; more prob- ably they show that he is as good an athlete as he ever was, and that his methods of training have become more scientific. But big gates and broken records have really nothing to do with the main purpose of the Games, which are to further the best interests of sport ; " l'essentiel," as their founder said forty years ago, "cc n'est pas d'avoir vaincu mais de s'etre bien battu." From a judgement by this criterion the 1948 Games emerge with credit. Though there have inevitably been minor incidents, the atmosphere on the whole has been extraordinarily good, and no one in this country regrets the reversal, on evidence taken ex camera, of a judge's decision which, by disqualifying America in the 400 metres relay, gave Great Britain an ephemeral and undeserved Olympic title. It is disappointing that our own athletes have not made a better showing, but it will be surprising if the stimulus given by, and the experience derived from, the Games are not reflected in a better British effort in 1952. This time we were bound to be losers, just as we were due to be hosts ; and it is perhaps not presumptuous to say that we showed up reasonably well in both capacities.