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A thousand years ago, or plus ça change...

From 'Bitov's Britain' (Viking 1985):

"In a desperate attempt to disguise Britain's decline as a sporting nation, sports editors have recently given their reporters a new directive: any contest in which a British competitor features with any degree of success should be referred to as a blue-riband event.

Hence, for several days during the 1984 'Olympics', an assistant bank manager from Croydon was said to be the toast of Los Angeles after his triumph in the blue-riband event for marksmen, the small­bore rifle-shooting. The British were narrowly edged out of the gold in the blue-riband team show-jumping event and broke the national record when finishing a creditable sixth in the blue-event in the pool, the women's 400-metre backstroke. They compensated for a generally low score on the athletics track by managing to win golds in the three blue-riband events there, the decathlon, the 1,500 metres and the women's javelin, a feat that, it was claimed, made Britain the envy of the athletics world.

After a disappointing show in the synchronized swimming, it was decided that this was not a blue-riband event after all but merely a tedious waste of time".


The results of a google news search for 'Olympics blue riband' can be found here.

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