I was hugely cynical before the games, like many many Brits. I think we were all pretty sure that we, as a nation of “try, but oh dear, we didn’t succeeders” (except perhaps in invasion) couldn’t pull off something as massive. After all, the last one we had was called The Austerity Games in 1948 and was run on a shoestring. I for one was concerned that London was grind to a gridlock, no-one would get anywhere they wanted to go and that someone would take the opportunity to bomb something, somewhere.
But bugger me sideways if the old bulldog spirit didn’t take over. Danny Boyle had me at “hello” with his opening ceremony, and I sat like a child, open mouthed as we raped the land, built dark satanic mills and had the Beatles march past Isenbard Kingdom Brunel. The volunteers turned into more sincere Disney workers, laughing, joking, dancing and helping the visitors in whatever they needed, and Londoners wore bright colours, came out in the daylight, and talked to each other. It was some kind of miracle.
I won’t bang on about how many medals, because that’s rather been done to death – but it was the human stories that brought the games to life. These underpaid semi-amateur people who have to go to school and to work and who still have to get up at five or earlier to cycle or run or swim or get a horse ready to work and find thirty hours or more in a week to train. My favourite events of course were the equestrian events, and that was just about all I watched from beginning to end, but i caught other things as they happened.
My favourite moment of the games? it should be the 26 year old Charlotte smashing through 90 points to take the team gold medal for dressage (our first ever dressage medal in the olympics, we used to suck, big time) but it' isn’t. After all the weeping and gnashing of teeth of athletes were sobbed in the camera about “how they’d let everyone down” by getting a silver, seeing Tom Daley’s utter utter jubilation when he won his bronze medal was, for me, the crowning moment of a fantastic games. I won’t be alive the next time we host, I’m sure, so I’m glad I was around for this.
(I also liked Mrs Grumpy Mo Farah who seemed to be nagging him when he came up to hug her, but then I’m English, I can’t help but find the funny in things.)
I suppose we’ll get back to normal soon, and we’ll be avoiding each others eyes in public and being little repressed islands again, but I hope it lasts until after the Paralympics.
What was your favourite moment?