• Branded the 'grow the game' suggestion 'absolute bullshit'
• Also slammed those who won't embrace full Olympic experience
EXCLUSIVE | OLYMPIC GAMES
Olympic legend David Wilkie has dismissed the suggestion that the Games will grow golf globally, describing it as ‘absolute bullshit’.
Speaking to bunkered.co.uk, the 62-year-old Scot - a winner of Olympic gold in the 200m breaststroke at Montreal in 1976 - said professional golf should not be in the Games, and called out Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus. Player recently said golf’s inclusion in Rio de Janeiro would ‘undoubtedly’ grow the game, while Nicklaus referenced the boost the sport could have in nations like China, India, Russia and Brazil.
“I think it’s wrong for those players to say there aren’t enough Indians or Africans playing the game without realising the impact and environmental damage a golf course would do in those countries,” said Wilkie. “You just have to go to those underdeveloped countries in terms of golf and look at the amount of money it would take to build a golf course and the destruction it would cause of forests. It’s utter rubbish to pretend that, by making golf part of the Olympic Games, you’re going to attract a poor guy in India to play. They just can’t afford it.
“Golf doesn’t need any stimulation, it doesn’t need a wider audience, and if people in these countries are going to play golf, it’ll never, ever filter down to the poorer people so I think what they’re saying is absolute bullshit.
“I think they’re just looking after their own psyche in the sense that they want to build more golf courses because of the money they’ll get paid for designing them.”
Wilkie was also dismissive of how much players will embrace the Olympic experience, saying those who don’t remain in Rio de Janerio from the opening ceremony on August 5 to the closing ceremony on August 21 can’t be classed as Olympians.
“If you’re not going to the opening ceremony, staying in the village, hanging around for the whole Games, going to the closing ceremony and just jetting in for a tournament – that’s what it is, just another tournament.
“Then, all you are is a participant in another event. You’re not an Olympian – even if you won an Olympic gold medal. You just decided that you wanted another tick in the box and the Olympic gold medal played a part in the ego trip that you’re on.
“An Olympian should be everything that an Olympian stands for in the sense that I’m participating in one of the most important events in my life and I’ll participate through the whole process. I didn’t just come in, swim my 200m breaststroke and then go back to where I was in Miami. If you’re serious about it, come and enjoy it. But don’t say you’re an Olympian when all you’ve done is play 72 holes of golf.”
And on the withdrawals which have started to tarnish the sport’s return to the Games after 112 years, Wilkie was equally forthright.
“It just shows that it’s way down on their list of importance to win an Olympic gold medal. At the end of the day, it’s all about big money and the Olympics, while it would give them a bit of profile, someone like Rory McIlroy doesn’t need the profile.
“He’s got a huge profile and having a little Olympic gold medal next to the other trophies that he’s won is just insignificant and cheapens the gold medal. I don’t get it.”
David Wilkie :: Explosive on the Olympics
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