Monday, August 13, 2012

Post Olympic high

My vacation in the UK is over, and what a vacation it was. I promise to post some pictures soon when I've got them off the camera and iPhone but wanted to get some thoughts down.

I am passionate about the Olympic Games wherever they are held, but to have them in London was so special for me. I love London - always have, always will and I was thrilled to see the resurgence of modern architecture and vision in the heart of the city and out towards the East End. It is not possible to convey with words the excitement and pride going on in the UK at the moment. Our Nation also heaved a collective sigh of relief that there were no major foul-ups. There had been months of doom and gloom and the naysayers were out in force, but Seb Coe and his team got it done - and in style. As one commentator put it, it wasn't so much "I told you we could do it" as "My God, we actually pulled it off".   Acquiring tickets for the Stadium on middle Super Saturday was a wonderfully lucky pick. It was stupendous, with Mo Farah (he of the quiet extra laps in my last blog entry) putting on a consumate performance in the 10,000m to take gold. The noise when he was on the final straight went from ear-splitting to heart-stopping. And we were certainly putting in our tuppence worth. Then there was Jessica Ennis coming home for heptathlon gold in a blaze of glory winning the last event, the 800m, in front of her massed supporters. She had been built up as a "Face of the Games" by our media and has been front and center for over 2 years. When she took the first heptathlon event, the 100m hurdles, by the scruff of the neck in a new UK record I knew she meant business. How focused she was in the face of everything. Right under the stand we were in was the men's long jump and TeamGB's Greg Rutherford also took gold. I really liked that the crowd, including me Andrew and Phoebe, helped the other athletes with enthusiatic clapping for their run ups if they asked for it. Although we were partisan there was a strong sense that everyone wanted to see the best man on the night win, irrespective of nationality. And it was exciting to see Sanya Richards-Ross in the heats of the women's 400m. 

Phoebe and I also went to the Archery - where we both got to have a go!! We also went to the Taekwondo, but Phoebe said she'd rather fight than watch. It was great to see such packed crowds for most of the less followed sports. Apparently 80,000 showed up to some of the women's soccer games and I couldn't believe the crowds lining the streets for the Marathons - and piled up on the cliffs down in Weymouth for the sailing.

Other highlights for me came in the rowing, as that was my sport of choice in my 20s and 30s. Could Katherine Grainger get her gold after 3 successive silvers in Sydney, Athens and Beijing - and yes she did, and a tear or two came to my eye, not for the first or last time. Phoebe loved Gabby Douglas - what a find she was. Of course we raved over Bradley Wiggins in the time trial after he had won the Tour de France, and Andrew is growing some sideburns! Our track cyclists, men and women, were outstanding as were our Brownlees in the triathlon. David Rudisha's world record in the 800m, Mo Farah again in the 5000m. And who can forget the sprinters - the USA women and the Jamaican men. Spectacular. And there were all the human stories of athletes covered so ably by the BBC. You could watch any sport using the "red button".

We are taking a break and then it will be the Paralympics. Another, perhaps even greater, source of inspiration.
So now it is back into it for my own goal - today I signed up for Bandera 100K.