I read yesterday that it’s 100 days since the Olympics in London and last night we replayed the opening ceremony that we’d recorded. Until then I hadn’t realised just how much I miss the games and that wonderful few weeks of the summer when we stood proud and tall as a nation in a way that nobody could have forecast or expected.
Sure, the results were with us on so many occasions, but there just had to be something else and I’ve wondered about it long and often since then and have hit upon the following reasons for my feel good glow.
Humility. My word, those Olympians were humble. Post event interviews all stood out for their humility, humour and pride. Nowhere was there arrogance, there was universal thanks: to Mums, Dads, team mates, friends, family Lottery funding – the list could go on. But the thanks were genuine and heartfelt. The thanks were also there in spades for the team mates and coaches who all had helped create success. How that contrasted with the interviews we see after so many other sporting events especially from footballers.
Unity: I was brought up in a racist, homophobic, anti negative “just-about everything” London in the 60’s and it was not always a nice place to be. As well as the underlying tensions, there was also the grime and dirt of the place. Nearly all that negativity has gone. Certainly there are still elements of tension in our society, but in the main we are a far more tolerant and cosmopolitan nation and all the better for it.
London: When I saw the the splendour that is London during the various road races it reminded me how beautiful our capital really is. The venues were inspired choice: Archery at Lords and Beach Volleyball on Horse Guards – iconic buildings provided amazing backgrounds for global pictures. A triumph.
Beauty: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: so many of the Olympians were truly beautiful, models of physical beauty, perfect in so many ways. And this applied equally to the Paralympians where the disability was made irrelevant . The physical beauty of the likes of Hannah Cockroft was a joy to see, the power, the rhythm, the perfection, the balance: Simply Glorious.
Generosity: Was there anyone more generous in Britain than the Games Makers? Thousands of them who had given up time to take part in the greatest Olympics ever, and probably not see much or any of the competition. Hundreds spent weeks at the Olympic Park only to “hear” the games from outside the stadia. They too were heroes creating an atmosphere that was second to none.
Crowds: They thronged along the Mall, around the serpentine and half of southern England for the cycling races, people poured out in their thousands, cheering and screaming at people they hardly knew taking part in sports they personally had probably never played.
The Broadcasters: The BBC produced magnificent coverage for the Olympics, forget about their woes of recent weeks, this is what they do and do brilliantly. Equally brilliantly was C4’s coverage of the Paralympiics, from their initial advert thanking the Beeb for the warm-up act you just knew they’d be different. And they were: straight, funny, human. Wonderful
The Ceremonies. We weren’t going to compete with previous extravaganza, we were going to do it the British way. The sense of fun, frivolity, history, tongues in cheeks all rolled into memorable spectacles. We didn’t need super-stars to light our flame, choosing instead to have many sporting heroes select young and promising athletes to represent them. Another inspired moment that showed sport is for all.
London: Quite simply, London looked wonderful and showed off her attributes beautifully.
The Military: Once again they got our politicians out of the shit, this time at such short notice too. And even those guys who deployed anti aircraft weaponry around the capital did so in a way that endeared them (eventually) to the locals.
And do I have any regrets? Only one: I just wish I’d been there. I didn’t go to any events. My early and probably default, cynicism made me think that there was no way we would deliver such an outstanding event. I just didn’t expect it to be great in the way that it was and now I’ll never have the chance again. More fool me.
However, I’m many ways I am glad I was born in the nasty atmosphere of London of the 50’s/60’s for without that understanding I wouldn’t really appreciate how far we’ve come as a society and as a nation to be proud of. We have a lot to be proud of even if we still have a long way to go.