Dear Boris and Dave or Tony and Ken
and dear Lord Sebastian – all of you men –
oh yes Tessa as well. And my dad and my mum
and the guy at the gym and, well, everyone
who helped me to practice and battle and train:
the lifting, the stretching, the running, the pain
The months and the years of hard preparation
the things I gave up for the sake of my nation:
early mornings and nights; no parties for me
as I struggled to gain a place in Team GB –
and I did. Alongside names well-known in the press:
Bradley, Sir Chris, Mo, Victoria and Jess
and all those who’d come first or second or third.
But think of the ones whose names you never heard
who, just like their team-mates ran, jumped, swam or pedalled
and came fourth or nineteenth, for which there are no medals:
achievement dismissed, effort not celebrated
Paid lip-service perhaps, we were not denigrated;
just politely ignored. None remember the faces
Of those who don’t make first, second or third places.
Spare a thought while you celebrate Britain’s Games glory
For four hundred and more who've a different story:
Who went silently back to the Village alone
And packed up their bags, said farewell and went home.
But now I conclude I could not have done better.
I just wanted to put all of this in a letter
Written in my home town to which I have returned
where there was no reception, not like those who earned
a handshake, a bus ride, TV interview
where they showed off their medals – and quite rightly too
I’m not bitter, I really applaud their success.
But I want you to know that I too did my best.
You won’t know my name, but at least there’s a hope
that you’ll read what I’m putting in this envelope
and addressing to you who brought us the Games.
At the top, on the right, just above all your names
is an ordinary stamp, one bearing the queen’s head,
which I’ll place in a post box that's still painted red.