I’m sure half the bloggers in the country have written an Olympics post by now, I know I’ve read a few. Still, there’s room on the internet for my two penn’orth.
I fell in love with the London 2012 Olympic Games during the Opening Ceremony. I wasn’t one of the people who had spent hours online trying and in many cases failing to get tickets. I hadn’t been gripped by any kind of Olympic fever but neither was I against the Games. If I was asked about it, my response was little more than a shoulder shrug. I spent three weeks of July in my usual Tour de France mind-set, and watching the incredible Bradley Wiggins winning the yellow jersey. After his broken collarbone the year before, it was the most magnificent return to the Tour and instantly there was talk of what he might do at the Olympics. For the first time, my thoughts really turned to the Games.
So, on holiday, we watched the utterly incredible Opening Ceremony, and I did one of the three things that I have done constantly throughout the two weeks of the Olympics. I cried. For two weeks since watching that Ceremony, I have found myself either holding my breath, shouting at the telly, or in tears. That’s it. Just those things. I’ve cried about cyclists and boxers. I’ve cried about swimmers, rowers, runners, riders and in one case, over the most beautiful extended trot I’ve ever seen. The equestrian events are the ones I know the best and if you’d told me that we’d win medals in all three disciplines, and two golds in the dressage, I’d never have believed you. I’ve cried over women competing from all the involved nations. I’ve cried at the sheer goodwill and volume of noise coming from stadium after stadium. I’ve cried as I’ve watched athletes from all nationalities, in all events, try their absolute heart out. I’ve cried when we won and when we lost.
I’ve shouted too. I’ve shouted at Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis, Bradley Wiggins, Victoria Pendleton and many, many more. I’ve held my breath as I watched Tom Daley get his bronze, when watching the almost-perfect dressage, when our team gymnasts had to wait for the results of an enquiry before finding out their medal results.
When I’ve not been shouting, breath-holding or crying in front of the TV, I’ve been outside. I suspect I’m not the only one who has compensated for all those extra hours in front of the tv by doing more exercise too. The motto of the Games may well have been about inspiring the next generation, but I tell you, they’ve inspired this old 36 year old too. Even though that inspiration led me to do a rather misjudged cartwheel that nearly popped out my hip…
With my kids, I’ve been running, swimming and bike riding. Playing football. Teaching my daughter how to cartwheel (badly). My children are quite young, so they’re not really aware about negative body images in the media or about vacuous, talentless ‘celebrity’ culture, but my daughter in particular has been captivated by watching women compete in sports as diverse as athletics, football, gymnastics and rowing. When we went out for a walk at the weekend, both the children ran in front of us, and my daughter shouted “I’m at the front, that means I win GOOOOOLD!” and my heart sang.
Now the Games have ended and there is a bit of a hole in my life. All a bit over-dramatic, I know, especially when I wasn’t remotely bothered about them beforehand but at the moment it feels true. I’m anxiously waiting for the start of the Paralympics so I can recommence my shouting, breath-holding and crying routine but beyond that I want to remember that feeling of pride, positivity, athleticism. Of positive body-image for women of all sizes. Of my children getting excited about competing in sports.
Let me leave aside the bad bits; the corporate sponsorship and logo-banning all over the place, the seating fiascos, the jarring note (for me, anyway) of supermodels at the closing ceremony (and, actually, quite a lot of the closing ceremony) the farce of G4S, and just concentrate on the sport, the volunteers and the spectators. It’s really shown the best of Great Britain, of who we can be and of what we can achieve. I make no apologies for my over-enthusiasm or for my tears. Or for starting to save up to go to Glasgow for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. I don’t want to be just sitting in front of the tv when they arrive.