Monday, August 13, 2012

the party's over (my friend)...

Well, how was it for you?
I absolutely LOVED it! I’ve always loved the Olympics and have thoroughly enjoyed having the luxury (through retirement) of being able to watch an awful lot of London 2012 – albeit courtesy of BBC TV (whose coverage, I thought, was quite brilliant). 
No doubt, over the coming days, we’ll hear from some of the sceptics about all the things that didn’t go well, but surely even the most cynical Brit must admit to having been caught up in the spectacle.
I rather liked Charlie Brooker’s “take” on the Games in the Guardian (written at the end of the first week) when he commented: “Thanks, Olympics, for confounding my inner cynic. In the run up to the Games, I was expecting the whole thing to be little more than a festival of trademarks… I’m finding the Olympics hypnotically watchable, partly because the BBC's coverage is so crisp and comprehensive and informative and useable, and isn't jammed full of brand names and commercials. And it's partly because … well … look, I don't know”.
These were some of my favourite memorable moments: 
·      Danny Boyle’s amazing opening ceremony, which seemed to set the tone.
·      “Super Saturday” nights in the Olympic Stadium when GB won four gold medals (Mo Farah x2, Jess Ennis and Greg Rutherford).
·      ALL the rowing at Eton Dorney. Huge relief and rejoicing that Kath Grainger finally won her gold medal – but my favourite moment was Katherine Copeland’s post-race television interview when a bewildered Copeland looked towards her rowing partner Sophie Hosking and said “we won the Olympics!” (yes, and it did make me cry!).
·      The amazing cycling in the Velodrome – but especially the Women’s team pursuit (I just love Laura Trott!) and Chris Hoy’s final win. I think this BBC clip sums it up.
·      The sense that the volunteers were brilliant ambassadors.
·      I LOVED the regular (and often hilarious) facebook updates from lovely friend Isabelle.
·      It wasn’t all about winning… great to see people exceeding their individual expectations and produced personal best performances. For example: Lawrence Clarke’s fourth place in the 110m hurdles final (despite the fact that he was educated at Eton!) and the rower (“The Otter”) from Niger.
·      I loved the big screens and deckchairs in Bristol (in Millennium Square and Quakers Friars).
·      I also REALLY enjoyed David Rudisha’s world record run in the Men’s 800m.
·      Oh, and of course, there was always the AMAZING Usain Bolt!!
Would I have enjoyed it as much if Team GB hadn’t performed so brilliantly? I would love to say “of course I would”, but I know I’d be lying. Nevertheless, it would have been difficult NOT to have been impressed by the venues, the organisation, the enthusiastic crowds and the Olympic spirit portrayed by virtually all the participants. 
Overall though, I think the most impressive aspect of the past fortnight has been the reaction from members of the public… the support was simply wonderful – both in terms of enthusiasm and numbers (and grateful that this support wasn’t particularly jingoistic or blinkered either!). It seemed as if EVERYONE (if they lived within easy reach of London) wanted to be involved… and that people who had perhaps missed out on Olympic tickets were determined to turn out on the streets for the free events – culminating in the MASSIVE numbers that lined the streets for yesterday’s men’s marathon.  
The Olympic torch relay seemed to set the tone and, by the time of the Opening Ceremony, you just sensed that the support was going to be immense (despite those empty seats allocated to members of the “Olympic Family” in the early days!)… and so it proved!
I have to admit that I was a little concerned that the Closing Ceremony was simply going to be a big music gig-cum-party (actually, one of the best bits was watching it with lovely friends Sue+Si!). Fortunately, it was much more than that – although I did think it went on a little too long (did we really need two songs from George Michael?).  
Please note: I didn’t cry during the closing ceremony, but I DID cry at various times yesterday as the BBC played a series of video memories (with suitable musical accompaniment)! I can’t find the particular one that really got me going, so this one will have to do!  
I’m really going to miss my daily Olympic routine… and can’t wait for the Paralympics!
PS: Not only did GB finish third on the medal list (compared with 4th in Beijing), but they won SO many more medals in London - 47 medals in Beijing (19G 13S 15B), but an astonishing 65 medals in 2012 (29G 17S 19B)… but who’s counting!
Photo: Bristol entered into the Olympic spirit in lots of small ways but, for me, the best one was the mini three-lane running track (lap distance 30m perhaps?!) plus medal podium next to M-Shed. Iris+Rosa made their own Olympic medals - which I subsequently awarded to them after some pretty frantic athletic activity (much to the amusement of some privileged spectators)…

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