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Letter: Resolve flag issue.

Byline: TOM ROBERTS

SIR - As a member of an Olympic sport, I am amazed that Wales' flag has been banned at the Games (Western Mail, August 5).

I guess that this is a blanket ban to stop any Tibetan flags being produced.

To quote rule 51 is nonsense - as far as I know it's never made the headlines and how can it be adhered to? It somewhat flies against the Olympic spirit and motto: the Hendiatris - Citius, Altius, Fortius, which is Latin for "Faster, Higher, Stronger".

I am saddened that Welsh athletes and supporters will not be able to show some sort of Hiraeth.

It is impossible for the organisers to ignore issues of cultural identity, home and belonging.

Or maybe it is? In the past, in my various roles within Welsh Triathlon I have always carried Welsh flags to pass to athletes as they came down the finishing chute - no more so than when Richard Jones beat Luc van Lierde (the Hawaii Ironman record holder) at the Llanberis Half Ironman in 2002. I was in tears - a truly emotional moment! With the current ruling there seems little chance of seeing Helen Tucker holding the Welsh flag aloft in Beijing.

Additionally, Wales is not truly represented in the Union flag - its creation has the flags of St George, St Patrick and St Andrew.

I'm sure there are some who would disagree with this on some historical/political/demographical issue. But I think we should be able to hold the Welsh flag aloft.

Finally, I would like to add I'm not overtly nationalistic but someone who truly realises the importance of a Welsh identity.

Ironically, I was born in west London, brought up going to chapel, attending eisteddfodau and playing mini rugby at London Welsh. I'm proud of my heritage and who I am - and I'm damn proud of all those Welsh (GB) athletes who've made it to Beijing.

I think we should be able to show what this nation can do. I know funding comes from a big GB pot but they're there and should be able to show their achievements thus far.

All these athletes know their funding comes from UK Sport but the majority started at grass roots level in Welsh clubs, racing in Welsh competitions, being coached by Welsh men and women and ultimately being cheered on by Welsh parents and spectators. Surely there could be some accommodation for Welsh flags?

I know there is no simple answer to this, since I've dealt with sporting politics for more than 10 years. However, I hope that this can be resolved for 2012.

TOM ROBERTS Rules and Tech Officer: Wales, Welsh Triathlon.
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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Aug 8, 2008
Words:443
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