D'you know what's really irritated me over the past week or two? People watching the 2012 Olympics Games in London, and then going online to comment on how such-and-such an Olympic event "is not a sport", or "shouldn't even be in the Olympics".
You need only search Twitter for the phrase "not a sport" to see examples of this. People intent on bashing everything from synchronised swimming to shooting, table tennis to showjumping, BMX to handball, and volleyball to dressage. (This search also returns an apparently ongoing debate as to whether cheerleading is a sport - a topic on which I have no opinion.)
What qualifies these people to decide what is, or is not, a "sport"? Presumably, they think that they know more than the International Olympic Committee... But, more importantly, what does it matter?
The Olympics is about people being the best they can be. The Olympic Motto - Citius, Altius, Fortius (Latin for "Higher, Faster, Stronger") - bears that out. The Olympics is a chance to celebrate what is possible.
Olympians train for years - often their whole lives - in whichever discipline they have chosen. They make huge sacrifices, and they push themselves to the limits - physically, psychologically and emotionally. This is what the Olympics is really all about: people, being brilliant.
Why, then, do some people feel the need to try and tarnish that? All the hard work and determination? Maybe they are just painfully ignorant, maybe they are resentful and bitter, or maybe they're just looking for some attention. Whichever it is, perhaps they should stop and think about what they are doing, for just a minute...
What right have you to dismiss the achievements of others? To win an Olympic medal - of any colour, at any sport, or discipline - is a huge accomplishment, and you can bet it's taken a huge amount of effort to get there. Why try to cheapen this incredible feat, with a cursory wave of the hand, and a derisive snort of "ohh, but that's not a real sport..."?
Maybe, one day, you too might set out to achieve something. It might take years to get there. It might mean making sacrifices. It will almost certainly mean many, many hours of training, working hard, perfecting your craft - often early in the morning, or late into the night. But you will persevere, because it is something which means a lot to you; something about which you are passionate.
And, when you eventually get there, and your brain floods with emotions of relief and elation that you finally made it, that you realised your hopes and dreams of so long, how will you feel when that accomplishment is degraded by others who haven't been through what you have, telling you that it isn't worth anything?