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Monday, 13 August 2012

Land of Hope and Glory


So, they’re over. The Olympics; years in the planning, two weeks in the making, but what a two weeks they were.  Beforehand, I just didn’t feel the fever; I couldn’t get excited. Yet, from the moment the first chord struck on Danny Boyle’s triumphant opening ceremony, I was captivated by the magic, the theatre and the sheer magnificence of it all.

The 2012 Olympics did Britain proud. 

The way in which the events showcased London’s iconic landmarks was fabulous. Lords Cricket Ground was a fitting backdrop for the archery; Greenwich park and the silhouette of the old naval college, a perfect stage for the equestrian events.  Small details such as the London themed show jumps in the equestrian ring; Nelson’s column, Downing Street, only added to the splendour. Hampton Court Palace stood majestic behind King Bradley Wiggins as he mounted his gold medal throne.  As Marathon runners jogged past the tower of Big Ben, I couldn’t help thinking, London is a pretty special place.

With the exception of the outfits worn for the opening and closing ceremonies, (Dear Next...gold hoodies are a travesty) the kit worn by the athletes was superb. Stella McCartney took the chav out of wearing the British flag and made the Union Jack look cool - not an easy feat.  Britain had the most stylish athletes of the games, from the dapper equestrian team right down to Tom Daley’s skimpy shorts.

As I spent days screaming at my TV and evenings watching interviews with winning athletes, at times it became impossible to decide which event I had enjoyed best.  I had suddenly developed an all encompassing love of sport, (much to my husband’s utter delight.)  However, if I had to pick some personal highlights, I think they’d be:

The British equestrian team show jumping event;  holding my breath, sat on my sofa horse, I jumped every fence of the course with Zara Phillips, willing her a clear round.  Later, as Mary Keet brought the silver medal home, I was in tears.  Never has show jumping enthralled me so much.

The buzz of the velodrome; the pringle of the park - and the awe inspiring British cycling team.  Watching Sir Chris Hoy and chums whizzing around at breakneck speed was breathtaking.  How did we ever get to be so good at cycling?  Dave Brailsford’s words; ‘the aggregation of marginal gains’ still ring in my ears today.  The British cycling team left no stone unturned, no box unticked, in preparing for the Olympics, and when they picked up 7 out of 10 gold medals, it showed. 

Of all the sports I watched and enjoyed, it was the rowing at Eton Dorney that captivated me most.  I cheered until I was hoarse in every single race, my heartbeat accelerating with every extra oar stroke as the crews approached the finishing line.   Strategic, determined, focussed power houses; for me the British rowers were just amazing.

It didn’t end there, day after day more British success stories continued to hit the medal table.  Jessica Ennis, Mo Farrah and Tom Daley delivered unforgettable performances and sporting moments, as did lesser known athletes too.  It seemed impossible to not shed a tear when Gemma Gibbons of the British Judo team mouthed; ‘I love you, Mum’ to the heavens, at the end of her final fight, realising she’d won a silver medal - the medal her late mother would never see.

As I watched our British athletes and their great achievements on the TV, I could only hope that some of them will become role models for the next generation. I’m sick of seeing the cast of TOWIE dominating the newsstands.  The cast of reality TV shows, bickering about relationships or discussing the latest shade of fake tan, are not good role models for our children.  These athletes are. It is reported that youngsters up and down the land are flocking to enrol in gyms, rowing clubs and boxing clubs. I hope this is the case, and that the 2012 games leaves a lasting legacy in more than just landmarks on our green and pleasant land.

In a double dip recession, some have questioned whether our country could afford to host the games. What was the real cost? Possibly, we (the public) may never know. Yet, the gift it gave us was priceless. A rekindling of national pride. A positivity. A sense of being proud to be British. Long may it reign.

Did you enjoy the Olympic games? What were your personal highlights?

12 comments:

  1. Hear Hear to all of that. It took me a while to get caught up - I'm always behind with everything! - but I'm glad I did. Lovely piece. Beautiful. Must have been great to be among it.

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    1. I feel so glad for this country that it was a success and regarded so, pretty much, the world over. I just hope the Paraolympics gets the same response. Would be wonderful if it did.

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  2. Couldn't agree more. I don't think I have ever felt so proud to be British and similarly I am not usually the most avid sports fan (my husband has also been delighted by this change!)
    We visited London twice during the Games and had a great time both times - it even made me wish that we still lived there and normally I am more than happy with my now country bumpkin status! As for the highlights - well apart from our days there I think it had to be that first Super Saturday in the stadium with those three amazing golds from Jessica Ennis, Greg Rutherford and the wonderful Mo Farah. That and the last night of diving with Tom Daley which was possibly one of the most emotionally draining nights telly watching ever as I peeked through my fingers hoping and praying he would get a medal!
    I am now bereft that it is all over and gutted to find people discussing Big Brother on twitter instead ( I mean who cares?!)
    Phew - think I wrote a mini blog post there! Love your post by the way - beautifully written. (PS - hope all that shouting didn't disturb that new bubba on the way!)

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    1. I agree, Super Saturday was amazing. We went to the Thursday athletics event, no British winners but saw Bolt race home in the 200m and the W.R get smashed in the 800m, the atmosphere was electric! I'm so with you on Tom Daley, I was willing him to get that medal.

      Thanks for your comment, and your kind words about my post :0)

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  3. I, like you, couldn't get excited before it started, I couldn't see ehat all the fuss was about! But then after the opening ceremony, I was hooked, and I thought the whole thing was simply fab. I loved all the settings for the events like the Horse Guards parade ... I really enjoyed the gymnastics, and the cycling, and of course watching Usian Bolt - what a showman! Might have been my imagination but I sensed a real buzz in the air over those sixteen days, now I feel a little bit of a lull. Great post, and review of it all. X

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    1. Thanks OM. I know so many people that felt the same way, and then just got swept up in it all once the games started. Settings were wonderful weren't they? Britain's heritage really helped us in that regard.

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  4. I absolutely loved it. I've always been patriotic but the Olympics made me miss home like crazy. It was an amazing celebration of talent and dedication. I still have the closing ceremony to watch but saving it for the weekend.

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    1. Much better idea to watch it at the weekend - I had matchsticks keeping my eyes open it was so late when it finished!

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  5. A bit late but have been away since the Monday after the closing ceremony. I have come back this week and feel lost, the TV was on non stop and I was watching sports I'd never seen before. I think my highlights were definitely the rowing, cycling, diving and I think the best day was super Saturday-it's not often GB get 3 gold medals in athletics let alone 3 in 45mins! Now I am back at home I am feeling like something is missing and cbeebies has made an appearance, the News has got depressing once more. I guess I will have to wait another 4 years, seeing as the Olympics is about the only sport I watch! I don't think I have ever felt so patriotic either-which is VERY unlike me! x

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    1. I agree, normal tv feels so boring now - and the news is depressing. It was so nice not to see morbid headlines for 2 weeks and see all the good news stories of the Olympics instead. Super Saturday was amazing - think I'll remember watching that forever. :0)

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  6. So many people I have spoken to say the same thing: it was brilliant. No one really expected to get into it as much as they did and everyone really enjoyed watching things they'd never seen before. We were away for most of it (not intentionally, it just worked out that way) but we watched a lot of what was on before and have recorded a lot of what we wanted to see while away. I got really caught up in it.

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    1. It was brilliant. I am still thinking about it. I hope the paralympics are every bit of good.

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