I have woken up with a big empty void in my life.
London 2012. The Olympics. What I thought was going to be the biggest pain in the ass I have ever lived through, but actually turned out to be 2 of the most pleasant, exciting, nerve wracking and admirable 2 weeks of my life.
When I first learnt we had won the bid to host the Olympics I wasn’t arsed. It was only within the last 6 months when the warnings of staying out of London grew louder and louder that I started to take notice. As someone that uses the Underground morning and night, going directly through Stratford to Oxford Circus on the Central Line, I assumed I would be in the thick of the nightmare every day. During the lead up to the Olympics arriving in London, I was dreading it.
Then something changed. Everyone decided to embrace it and stop moaning about how bad it was going to be. The Opening Ceremony was being talked about more and more and I actually found myself wanting to watch it, genuinely interested in how Danny Boyle was going to showcase London to the world, set us up for what was going to be surely at best a tempestuous 2 weeks? We’d better not blow it on the first night. I sat down with my friends and watched the Ceremony and was absolutely blown away. IT WAS BRILLIANT. With every segment I found myself genuinely amazed by the sheer volume of production, the people, the actors, the music, the volunteers. The Opening Ceremony was outstanding and left me excited for the Games and with a big lump in my throat because I was so proud, proud of this country and proud of its history. I had no idea of what was to come.
For the following 2 weeks I suddenly became interested in sport I had never batted an eyelid at before. I was suddenly screaming for people that I hadn’t even heard of 2 weeks ago. I was downloading Olympic apps, panicking when BBC iPlayer wouldn’t work. I tweeted my love and admiration for this country countless times, something I hadn’t really ever felt compelled to do in my life unless we happened to have a particularly good game in the World Cup. The Olympics is different. The athletes that competed for Team GB (and every other nation when you think about it) are probably the best role models for children I could ever think of. There is none of the loutish arrogance that comes with footballers. Footballers are paid millions and hardly ever deliver. They have fame that knows no bounds, but for reasons that are more often than not, bad. The athletes in the Olympics are hard working, passionate, driven, ambitious. They have worked their asses off every day for the last 4 years to be the best, to do our country proud, and they succeeded.
Because of this I got behind them 100%, along with just about everyone else in the country. I watched as much of the Olympics as I could, finding a genuine interest in it. I genuinely felt a glow of pride when we won medals, whether they be Gold, Silver or Bronze. The quality of the sport I watched in the last 2 weeks was phenomenal, and it wasn’t because it was backed by fat cats with big wallets or because they wanted promotional or advertising deals. It was because the athletes wanted to do themselves and their countries proud and they had something worthwhile to fight for. I got tickets for the first day of the Athletics at the Olympic Stadium thanks to my friend Hollie and it was epic. It was brilliant to watch Jessica Ennis and all the other athletes in the flesh and the atmosphere in the Stadium was electric. I met Alexander Smith, the Team GB Hammer Thrower – a genuine OLYMPIC ATHLETE who was a complete gentleman. The park itself was brilliant; clean, well laid out, big, impressive. Our seats in the Stadium cost £20 each and we were ¾ of the way up so hardly near the front, but we could see EVERYTHING. It was one of the most enjoyable days I have ever had, and it was so nice to go there and experience the Olympic spirit first hand and be active in such an important piece of British history.
I thought the trains were going to be a nightmare getting to work, and this was the main reason I initially dreaded the Olympics coming to town. Granted, the day I went to watch the Athletics at the Olympic stadium the Central Line practically exploded and I had to get about 18 different trains into Central London just to come back out again to get to the park, but apart from that it wasn’t that bad at all. There were a few things I even ENJOYED about that trains! On the train home if a member of Team GB won a medal, the nice little men and women that drove the trains told us over their little announcer microphone thing. This made fellow commuters and strangers smile at each other – I even witnessed a conversation about a particular announcement strike up BETWEEN STRANGERS. If you haven’t been on the Underground before you won’t already know this, but NO ONE talks to each other on the train. If at any other time you try to talk to someone you don’t know on the train, you would probably be committed to a mental hospital. My favourite Olympic Transport moment was when Chris Hoy won Gold in the Keirin. Fuming because the race was scheduled to be at 5.50pm, just as I was in the middle of my journey home I managed to get BBC iPlayer up on my phone so was able to watch the race on the train. A woman sitting next to me saw what I was doing and asked if she could watch it with me. We both sat huddled over my phone, getting louder and louder until Hoy whizzed over the line and we both screamed our heads off. The guy opposite us asked if Hoy had won and we spent the rest of the journey talking about it. THAT NEVER HAPPENS ON THE TRAIN but I loved it. It created a lovely atmosphere which made a welcome change to the normal unwelcoming atmosphere on the Underground.
The Closing Ceremony divided opinion a bit. After Danny Boyle setting the standard so high with the Opening and the sheer success of the Games, I think everyone was expecting miracles. I for one LOVE British music, I think we have some of the best musicians in the world and nothing makes me feel more patriotic then listening to it. The Closing Ceremony was basically a big concert, showcasing the finest musical talent that has ever come out of GB. Artists such as George Michael, Annie Lennox, The Spice Girls, Beady Eye, Muse, Jessie J, Emile Sandé, Take That. Not every artist was to everyone’s taste but that wasn’t the point. The point was to show we can do pomp and circumstance at its best, we can do Olympic Games brilliantly, and we can do music too. I loved the very English parts of the ceremony, one of the highlights for me being Eric Idle singing Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. Russell Brand coming out on a 60’s tour bus dressed like a hippy child catcher singing I Am The Walrus almost put me in a coma. It was BRILLIANT.
By the time the ceremony came to an end and the Olympic Torch was extinguished, I was genuinely gutted. Here’s something I NEVER thought i’d say, but I wish we could have the Games for two more weeks. I woke up this morning with a hangover, like I had been out on one of the best nights of my life and had just woken up to it all being over. I loved every minute of it.
The list of people that did the nation proud is ridiculous. First up, the athletes. They were inspiring, brilliant, emotional to watch. We felt their pain, we shared their joy and we inwardly spurred them round every corner, through every lap and over every jump. The workers at the BBC, Olympic Park, the Underground, Airports. The people behind the scenes that made sure everything went to plan. The volunteers who did it all just for the experience, not for the money. The people that kept us safe; police, ambulance workers, army, the security guards. They all deserve their own Gold medals for making an entire 2 weeks that every citizen of this country can be proud of. Twitter was a great social networking site to use during the Games. Hearing peoples opinions about every aspect of it was brilliant, and some of the conversations and banter I had on Twitter during this time was the funniest I’ve experienced on there. The people I follow on Twitter made the experience of the Games that much better, as we all were enjoying it together. The most surprising of all and in my opinion the best was the people in this country. I have never seen one event lift an entire countries spirits before, but the Olympics did it. Everyone was interested, everyone was involved and everyone stepped up to the mark and helped to make this one of the best Olympic games on record. We should all be proud of ourselves and each other.
Stand on the Podium London. You did it.