God loves sport, too

The heavens kept firmly shut for a glorious weekend of sport

And the rains stopped. And the sun shone. At Silverstone, at Wimbledon, at Henley and all the way from London to Canterbury, the windows of heaven remained firmly shut so that on Britain's holiest weekend of summer sport, the mighty champions might show their stuff. The tiresome Bishop of Carlisle - he who had said that the floods were God's punishment for our immorality - was mocked, for God had embraced sport, warts and all.

At Silverstone, the 79,000 fans who watched the British grand prix cared not a whit that intellectual property theft might have helped an innocent Lewis Hamilton achieve his previous victories. The crowd gave Hamilton a standing ovation, even though he finished third, behind McLaren teammate Fernando Alonso and the Ferrari race-winner Kimi Raikkonen. The Ferraris, faster now than the McLarens, could make life difficult, but for the time being Hamilton still leads the championship.

The ignored epiphany was that Ferrari's head of performance development had been sacked for allegedly "giving" team secrets to McLaren's chief designer, who has been suspended. Both Britons denied that charge plus another that together they had offered design secrets to Honda, although that team's principal admitted meeting with them to discuss "work options".

At Wimbledon, more thought was given to the sinfully high prize money now paid equally, regardless of gender. Roger Federer's glorious triumph after a mesmerising five-set battle against Rafael Nadal will become a famous victory. Federer's fifth consecutive Wimbledon single's title - it equalled Björn Borg's record - set him on the trail of matching Pete Sampras's 14 grand slam wins.

On this weekend of weekends, the first British Wimbledon champion in 20 years came unto us, when Andy Murray's elder brother, Jamie, won in the mixed doubles. Jubilate.

At the Henley Royal Regatta, where the powers-that-be of rowing have relegated women to a subservience that only the rulers of Saudi Arabia could possibly approve of, there were no flood waters. Instead, the world championship British coxless four continued their two-year run of wins. The diamond sculls saw Alan Campbell's first international victory over the Kiwi world champion. Most female rowers had been relegated to an earlier, apartheid, regatta, where they rowed unwatched and unsung.

On the road to Canterbury, the 189 cyclists, racing in the first ever Tour de France to start in London, were cheered on by an estimated two million people, even though the sport has had a year of doping scandals. As the Tour prepared to move on to France, it remained likely that the incriminating DNA of some top cyclists could turn up in the doping investigation of a Spanish laboratory.

On holy sport Sunday, Sister Andrea Jaeger, an Anglican nun, and a former Wimbledon singles finalist, appeared on the BBC's God slot, Heaven and Earth. Sister Andrea called her victory over Billie Jean King in the 1983 semi-final her greatest tennis moment, a decidedly happier memory than her fall to Martina Navratilova in the final. King's tennis was terrific, but it was her drive to professionalise women's tennis that enabled Sister Andrea to win the millions that she has since donated to a foundation for children with cancer.

The Bishop of Carlisle, who had been invited to defend his views about God's wrath on the same television programme, at last wisely held his tongue.

Adrianne Blue is a senior lecturer in international journalism at City University and the author of many books on sport.

This article first appeared in the 16 July 2007 issue of the New Statesman, Chavez: from hero to tyrant