On the naughty step

Conduct that deserves a ticking off

This week: competitive parents

"It's OK, I did some cross-country training in 1995. I'll be fine for the fathers' 100m race." Those are the famous last words of the competitive parent, determined to win on school sports day.

Ever since Princess Diana was first over the finishing line at Prince William's school in 1989, parents' races seem to have been transformed from a bit of fun into a serious business. After all, who wouldn't want to succeed like footballer David Beckham, who embarrassed his son Cruz recently by winning the fathers' race?

Unfortunately, training for these athletic moments has not kept pace with the ambitions of most competitors. A supermarket chain has claimed that parents are receiving all kinds of injuries as a result: sales of painkillers, bandages and plasters rocket by almost 50 per cent during the months of June and July, it claims.

Oh dear. Not only is it embarrassing for children to have parents who want to hog the limelight but it is also tiresome to have to scrape them off the field and apply a cold compress.

So, climb on to the naughty step, competitive yet physically unfit parents. Leave the runninghoppingthree-legged stumbling to your children. They will be eternally grateful.

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