The Greatest Sporting Show in the World - the 2012 Olympics

ANY lingering doubts about the Olympics not being the best of all sporting occasions will hopefully put to bed in just over four weeks time.

Hundreds of the world’s best sportsmen and women will descend on London to pit their skills against each other for medals and national pride, watched by an audience of millions right across the globe.

The London-based games have had more than their fair share of problems, including the hopelessly inaccurate financial estimates, the fears about security, the concerns about transport in and out of the city, the difficulty of getting tickets and - not least - our fear of not putting up a decent showing as the host nation.

On the last issue you have to ask - whatever happened to the old adage of just being there?

No matter - just for the sake of old Corinthian values, let’s put any thoughts of cynicism behind us, and enjoy the three weeks of activity for what they are - a wonderful opportunity for the nations of the world to compete in harmony on the world stage of sport.

The Beijing Olympics of 2008 was such an occasion for Ellon hockey player Ali McGregor.

“You can’t imagine the thrill you get from representing your country,” he said. “For me it was an amazing event, and one I will never forget.

The former Great Britain and Ireland goalkeeper - who learnt his trade with the Ellon Gordon hockey club - added: “We didn’t win medals, but just competing was tremendous.

“I hope the London games will be just as exciting for the lucky participants.”

The dedicated and enthusiastic Ali even found time to e-mail reports from Beijing after each game to this correspondent, albeit after midnight for the morning editions of our local provincial newspaper.

And all, it has to be said, for no fee. There was no big cheque in the post for the former Ellon Academy student, who was recently inducted into Edinburgh University’s Hall of Fame where he joined Scottish Olympians Sir Chris Hoy and Eric Liddell.

“It’s an awesome honour,” said Ali.

The games get under way on Friday, July 27 when the British team will launch its bid for the biggest haul of medals for some considerable time.

But while there will be a number of Scots in the GB team, disappointingly there are no men in the athletics squad, and only four in the women’s team.

It’s a situation which should be of huge concern to those who see track and field events as the very heart of the modern games, especially with the Glasgow Commonwealth Games coming up in 2014.

The fact that Alan Wells - who won the 100 metres at Moscow in 1980 - is still the fastest Scot over the distance should send out warning bells about our status on the world athletics stage.

There will, however, be British winners over the three weeks of action, including Mo Farah who will hopefully shrug off all the attendant pressures of being favourite for the 5000 metres.

With a week to go before the biggest and best sporting event in the world gets up and running, we shall take time to study our 10 best hopes of gold for next week, while recalling Ali McGregor’s words:

“Just competing was tremendous.”