Friday, 17 August 2012

My Olympic Experience

My sister and I flying the flag for Team GB
This August there was only one thing to watch on television, one thing to tweet about, one thing to chat about on Facebook and one thing to read about in the papers. Yes, this is my obligatory Olympics blog post.

If you were as much as a fan of the BBC parody 'Twenty Twelve' as I was, then you will understand the level of cynicism with which I approached the Olympics. In my head we really were going to plant a chocolate covered Brazil nut in a raised flower bed in Potters Fields and call it 'a tree of inclusivity under whose branches future generations will gather inclusively'.

When I'm wrong, I say I'm wrong. Great Britain, I apologise for ever having doubted you. On the closing evening of the Olympics I was stood in a pub in Brixton dressed in red, white and blue, an 'I love London' badge on my chest and a medal around my neck. The pub was full of cheers and I was welling up with pride.

This is what I will remember about the Olympics visiting London:

The Flags (ours and other people's)

I think it is a real shame that all the flags ever have to come down. The whole city had a makeover this summer and decked itself out in Union Jacks and the flags of other Olympic nations. With the waving of coloured fabric we reminded ourselves how wonderful it is to live in such a diverse city.

The Outfits

People wore their nationality with pride on the tube and in the streets. Team GB wasn't just made up of athletes - it was all the families wearing matching Union Jack t-shirts and the people draped in their flag cloaks.

The Race 

 I went to watch a race through the streets, and although it was pouring with rain the steps of St Paul's were full of people gathered to cheer on the athletes. As every runner came past the crowd erupted into cheers. Regardless of the nationality of the runner, or whether they were in front or trudging determinedly at the back, we cheered just as loudly.

The Splash of Glory

 As the runners came past us their feet splashed through the puddles - and splashed me. I never wanted the water to dry. That was a splash of Olympic athletes - a splash of glory.

The Tears

I think I spent the duration of the Olympics with mascara dripping down my face. Every time someone from GB won, I cried. Every time anyone won, I cried.  Every time someone cried, I sobbed. In fact, you just have to say 'Jessica Ennis crossing the finish line' or 'Mo Farrah hugging his step-daughter' to have me weeping again.

The Sports Day

My friend and I went to a sports day held at a local pub. We arrived in full sports kit and swathed in union jacks, only to find that we were the only people dressed up. We didn't let this deter us. Egg and spoon race, tug of war, hay-bale hurdles... we were there. Sadly neither of us are athletically gifted so we didn't technically win any races. But as we left we were presented with gold medals for our 'enthusiasm'. Ok, so I may never be an Olympic athlete. But enthusiasm is something I am quite happy to excel at.

The Pubs (and the Pints)

Every pub in Britain it seemed (and certainly every pub in London) had the Olympics playing on a screen somewhere. We cheered and commiserated over pints. I was sat in a pub in Central London when Andy Murray triumphed. The roar was loud enough to fill the street outside and to make goosebumps tickle my arms. At both the opening and closing ceremonies I watched in my favourite pub in Brixton and joined my fellow Brixtonites in applauding and singing in style.
The Pride

As Brits how often is it that we are able to sit back and wallow in unashamed pride? During the Olympics I felt proud. Proud of the volunteers in their pink outfits welcoming visitors, proud of my friends- one as a make-up artist at the Olympic stadium and one as a dancer in the closing ceremony, proud of the athletes showing the world what can be done with the human body and a lot of hard work, proud of the smiles and the cheers across the country and proud to be living in a country and a city that when it came down to it, got it right.

Living in London during the 2012 Olympics has honestly been an unforgettable experience. I may not be an athlete racing in front of millions, I may not have had tickets to the stadium and I may not have been one of my lucky friends working at the Olympics.

But I was there. And I feel privileged to have been even a small part of something so special.


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