I am sure that most, if not all, of the populous of Great Britain (despite their vehement protests and incessant whining about the ‘disruption’ it would cause and the costs which would be incurred for a country already in a financial crisis) were glued to their respective televisions, radios or computers, soaking up every second they could of what can only be describes as the worlds ultimate sporting event – The Olympic Games. Luckily, I made it back from Cape Town to join in on the action – a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of this momentous occasion, and one which I shall never forget.
I was lucky enough to be invited to join an old friend to watch some of the events, starting with Women’s Beach Volleyball where Brazil played Germany; this was only made more comical by the reactions from the rather somber German crowd, who weren’t supporting so much as sulking, which was such a stark contrast to the loud and vibrant cheers of the Brazilian supporters, who were as colourful as you would expect, if not more so. I was therefore grateful, and quite relieved, to be seated near a large group of Brazilians. Apart from that the event itself was fairly ordinary despite the media hype surrounding it; don’t get me wrong, it was great to be there and I would do it again in a heartbeat, but it wasn’t quite the party I had heard so much about and had therefore expected (though this may have something to do with the Germans – not that I have anything against Germans of course).
It wasn’t until the Friday when we were actually in the Olympic stadium itself, 8 rows back from the track, positioned directly in front of the pole-vaulters (it happened to be the men’s pole vault final too – yum!), that I actually felt the emotion and thrill and that indescribable ‘Olympic Spirit’. It’s really quite a phenomenal feeling, the atmosphere is electric and the energy all-consuming; I found myself getting completely caught up in each event, especially during the women’s four by one hundred metre final during which Team USA not only took home the gold, but completely smashed both the World record and Olympic record. This was indeed one of the highlights of my year, and a day I will remember forever. We saw – Men’s Pole Vault Final, Men’s 4 x 100m Relay Round 1, Women’s 5000m Final, Women’s 4 x 100m Relay Final, Women’s 1500m Final, Women’s 5000m Victory Ceremony, Men’s 4 x 400m Relay Final, Women’s 4 x 100m Relay Victory Ceremony – AND I got to see Oscar Pistorius run (proud South African I am!!)
These athletes work their entire lives for that single defining moment, and a lot of them will never take home a medal, but just competing is more than most people could ever hope for and that’s what the ‘Olympic Spirit’ is all about. You never really understand it until you come face to face with it and are caught up in the whirlwind of it all. I hope it changes the way we view sport in the UK, and I hope it inspires the younger generations to get involved and take more of an interest.
Special thanks to my amazing friend JM for making this whole thing possible. Well done to all the athletes (you’re our inspiration), volunteers, supportive families, coaches, team mates and our wonderful city of London for making it one of the best Olympics yet – you all did an amazing job. Looking forward to Rio in 2016.