Sunday, 12 August 2012

Faster. Higher. Stronger.

I didn't go to the Olympic park, or any of the other venues.  I haven't held the Olympic Torch, nor do I have anyone remotely close to me competing in the games.  And yet, despite my distance to it all, I have never been so moved or so personally inspired, by ordinary people doing extraordinary things for their country.  For us.

It was hard, pre-Olympics, to not get caught up in the cynicism, some of the commercial decisions will always feel uncomfortable and those empty seats in week one will never get filled, but let's be honest, London shone.  For the first time in a long time I regretted leaving our capital in 2000.  The opening ceremony set the tone for what was to come, Britain as the British see it, personifying the grit and determination that even Danny Boyle could only of dreamed Team GB would conspire to deliver.  We, the public, fed off Boyle's vision and the BBC simply revelled in every second of it.

Third place in the medal table feels like a dream.  Cameron has already jumped on it of course, he wants more gold, more competition, more WINNING.  But the games have given us much more than winners, they've given us heroes and amongst those are silver medalists, bronze medalists and plenty of others who didn't get a medal at all.  I don't want to fall foul of the 'It's all about taking part' cliché because that's not quite right either, it's about people fulfilling their dreams.  Working and grafting to achieve that dream of competing for four years, on cold bleak winter days, through rain and hail, just to be there, taking part.

There have been so many highlights, so many moments when British sport has risen above the rest these last two weeks that my top ten moments quickly escalated to a top twenty and then a top thirty.  So many athletes had me off my sofa, punching the air, that I am incapable of making a list.  If I had to pick one, to sum up the whole two weeks, it would be Katherine Copeland's face after winning her race in the rowing, mouth wide open in shock, before hugging her team mate Sophie Hosking and saying, 'We've won the Olympics,' swiftly followed by, 'we're gonna be on a stamp!'  Brilliant.

The legacy of 2012 is everyones to shape.  It's not about what happens to the Olympic Park or how much investment there is from the government in sport, post the Olympic come down, it's about what people do with that feeling they have right now.  If the games get someone like me off my sofa and running around the block a few times a week then it's done its job.  It's as simple as that.

Well done London, well done green and pleasant land.  You did us all proud.