Thursday, 16 August 2012

What I learned from the Olympics

From a very early moment, I was tempted to approach the Olympics with my usual bah humbug. Don't get me wrong, I was glad we beat out Paris, if for no other reason than it is fun to beat the French, but who gets excited about watching a marathon. Snore fest, and not because of my sleeping disorder. This attitude was hardly enhanced by the fact that I could not even afford tickets when they went 'on sale', i.e. into a raffle. This wasn't the Olympics' fault (well, for some of the tickets it was), but more my own financial mismanagement causing me to resent the things I could not have. And again, who wants to pay money to see people run, cycle, or any other number of interminable things.
Alas, I had not reckoned with the spirit of the people, of London, in particular, and also of Great Britain, to say nothing of the incredible determination and tenacity of the athletes themselves. The atmosphere around the games began to increase months before the games, people everywhere getting into the spirit of support for the team and general enjoyment of an event which is hard to resist when you are right in the middle of it. I decided very soon after this bubbling up that I would allow myself to bubble, too.
And why not? I was, after all, living in one of the greatest cities in modern times, surrounded by people determined to make the event the best ever, the happiest ever. The games makers I met during my foray into the Olympic Park were (all but one) alive with energy and enthusiasm. Again, it is hard not to feel the same way, especially when your team has done so well (it was the final Saturday, and I had been lucky enough to be given a ticket to the hockey), and the sun shining down didn't hurt either.
Yes, London, you turned it on. From the majesty of the opening ceremony, to the countless individual moments of brilliance, from athletes and games makers, it was truly a roaring success. So, what did I learn?
1. I am as proud to be a Londoner as I have ever been, in fact much more so. What a surprise the old girl pulled it off with such aplomb. London you were beautiful.
2. Don't believe everything you read. People weren't miserable, the transport network didn't melt down, the sun did shine (mostly), and the team kicked ass.
3. I really quite enjoy watching volleyball. I remember having fun playing it at school, too.
4. I feel as connected to Team GB as I do to Team NZ, who also kicked ass by the way. (Don't mention the Aussies.)
5. People can rise to occasion, can show pride where it seemed there was none, can bounce back from things like riots. Sometimes, all they need is a chance.
6. To quote one of the commentators of the closing ceremony: 'Could we afford it? Not really. Was it worth it? You bet.'
7. I sometimes write blogs which are not depressing.
8. Oh, and, hockey players can be really hot.