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?