CRAIG NELSON: Demolition of Don Valley at odds with Olympic legacy
11:00pm Wednesday 6th March 2013 in Sport
I HAD intended an early night on Sunday before flicking through the channels one last time and stumbling over the James J Braddock biopic Cinderella Man.
The Ron Howard film stars Russell Crowe as the most unlikely world heavyweaight boxing champion in history.
Braddock was deemed an aging no-hoper in the twilight of an uninspiring career before hauling himself out of enforced retirement to beat the seemingly invincible Max Baer in 1935.
The tough New York docker reinvented himself after finding courage, inspiration and dignity in his struggle to feed his family during the Great Depression.
If the film is to be believed, his rags to riches story provided hope to people who were wallowing in poverty and needed an everyday hero.
It’s the kind of tale that Hollywood loves – think Seabiscuit in boxing gloves – but one that I’ve always been dubious about.
There’s no doubting that “against all odds” sporting success can impart a feelgood factor – just imagine if Bolton were to win the play-offs this season – but I believe nostalgia can distort history.
Can a good news sporting story really make a difference to people’s lives when they are fighting to find work and have no way of supporting their family?
I doubt it, but I bet, in the not too distant future, some film exec will make big bucks from a movie about how the 2012 Olympics helped London and the rest of the country get back on its feet.
It’s true that a warm glow descended on the British Isles with each gold, but less than a year later the practicalities of life are fast eroding the memory of a glorious summer.
Councillors in Sheffield – the home city of Team GB poster girl Jessica Ennis – have just decided to demolish the Don Valley athletics stadium as they bid to find £50million of extra cuts.
This is the stadium were Ennis has trained at all her career.
Without the 400m track and its adjacent indoor facilities, her coach, Tony Minichiello, said Ennis would probably never have won gold, while Ennis herself said she would never have taken up athletics without such a great stadium close at hand.
Lottery funding will ensure Ennis finds somewhere else to train for Rio 2016, but what about future generations who will never get the opportunities she enjoyed?
This is not the kind of fairytale ending you see on the big screen.