Just because you went to an Olympic Games in your own country doesn’t mean you should turn your back on the sport that got you there and embark on a career of celebrity and excess. Just ask Robbie Grabarz, Britain’s bronze medal winner.
2012 was a fantastic year for Grabarz. Following on from his medal in London, the high jumper claimed the top prize in the Diamond League, taking home the $40,000 reward. It might not sound much compared to the dizzy amounts of money footballers earn, but it was vital for a man who had lost all funding the year before and had to buy his own kit for the Olympics. Yet, despite all that success, he feels he hasn’t got the time to enjoy TV appearances and the after-dinner circuit. Athletics is what puts food on the table.
Whilst Tom Daley continues mentoring Z-list celebrities on the woeful ‘Splash!’ and gymnasts Louis Smith and Beth Tweddle take to very different dancefloors, Grabarz allowed himself just one real indulgence. Appearing in the Christmas edition of ‘Superstars’ was something he wanted to do above all else, yet it was another sporting competition, proving the competitive side of athletes doesn’t just go away. He wasn’t alone in his brief moment in the limelight; the Brownlee brothers, Anthony Joshua and Christine Ohuruogu were just some of the stars choosing their time to enjoy their fame, before getting back to work.
“Fame” doesn’t seem to sit well with Grabarz and his jumping certainly hasn’t been distracted by it. Chosen to captain the Great Britain side in last week’s International Match in Glasgow, Robbie fought his way to an early-season second place in a day filled with little triumph. He had admitted that he feared the call to take up the captaincy was due to be a “telling-off”, yet he led by example when it was required of him. Fellow athletes Dwain Chambers, Holly Bleasdale, Dai Greene and Nigel Levine – all of whom struggled against top-class opponents at the Olympics – came together as the past, present and the future, all beginning 2013 in earnest with top performances. It wasn’t to be Britain’s day, but there was a clear sign that this was a group of people willing to right any wrongs they made last year.
There’s a sense that the “real stars” have yet to return this year. Super Saturday’s heroes Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis and Greg Rutherford will begin their seasons soon, with the Indoor British Grand Prix and European Trials all approaching next month. The World Championships also aren’t too far away. But it isn’t fair to say that there isn’t anyone worth watching at the moment. Robbie Grabarz is as big a star as the other three. He just isn’t bothered about putting his name in lights.