Olympic Sized Hole… Again

FOREWORD – turns out I wrote a post very similar to this four years ago. And I used the exact same title, until I realised and changed this one!

I haven’t written in a while, but there’s no great surprise there.

One of the reasons why has been that during the whole of the Olympic period, I spent it doing one of either two things: working and watching the Olympics. Oh, I suppose I did sleep as well, but it wasn’t that much.

At this point I would normally say something trite like “I’ve always loved the Olympics” but I don’t think it’s true. The earliest Olympics I can truly remember is Atlanta 1996, and being only 11 at the time, I don’t really think I paid much attention to it. After all, I disliked competitive sport a lot back then. Which kinda put paid to me watching anything of Sydney 2000. Sport just wasn’t my bag. I was such a bore.

Skip then to Athens 2004. By now my attitude to sport had changed, mainly because I was no longer being forced to do it in school. In truth, I still don’t remember much, despite being 19 years old. I worked throughout the summer, but I only had a part time job, so I could have watched a lot more. I remember some amazing gold medals, and maybe it lit a little spark, but I don’t remember consuming TV coverage as much as I did this time.

In 2008, I had just graduated, and was jobless. I watched Olympics. I watched any sport and every event under the sun. Except dressage, because that just baffled me. But the timezone wasn’t favourable. By the time I got up, half of the day’s events were over. But I would load up the BBC’s live text and read back what had happened overnight. It made up for it a little, but I still felt like I was missing out.

When London won the Games in 2005, I was really positive about it. In the seven years between then and now, I remained positive, despite years of British self-flaggelation on the subject. I knew if we could get behind it we’d actually learn to enjoy it.

Then, what happened in the past two weeks completely blew me away.

First of all, it has provided some great moments. For the past two weeks I have watched so much sport, but – beautifully – so many tales of human endeavour against the odds. So many tales of people setting themselves challenges, and succeeding. Disappointment and sorrow, yes, but all part of one of humanity’s greatest spectacles of co-operation and peace. The events themselves are competition, but somehow when viewed from above, the sum transcends that. It is the ability of the human race to engage each other in a triumph of personal struggle against adversity, of super-human feats of effort.

Secondly, I enjoyed it because of how it finally smashed British cynicism and brought together the nation. We finally learned to appreciate that we are good at some things after all, and we really can achieve greatness if we work together.

Thirdly, the Olympics have given me some new heroes. An overused word, perhaps, but one justified for such incredible athleticism. Bradley Wiggins, take a bow. And Laura Trott, too. Bloody jealous of you, Jason Kenny…

Fourthly, I had been enjoying watching sports I wouldn’t normally give a second thought to, and learning about some sports for the first time. Some were very good spectacles, like the beach volleyball, and others were just wonderful through the Herculean efforts of the participants: like in cycling and rowing. I was constantly in awe at those talents.

But most of all it has just been fun. Fun that is no longer with me. Fun that I had been so much looking forward to, and now is but a memory… with four whole years till the next jolly exercise.

I watched the Closing Ceremony on Sunday night fighting back the tears on a number of occasions. Yes, I know some of the singers were crap, and did indeed cause tears for the wrong reasons, but the overall display of united humanity was just too much. Some of the song choices were inspired. Elbow, twice. Everyone’s here. One day like this a year’ll see me right. And Eric Idle. Just perfect Britishness. And I don’t often use that word…

But then the following days I’ve almost been in mourning. I’m still consuming as much Olympic news as I can, desperate to cling onto something. And occasionally a memory will pop in of sporting triumph. I feel briefly happy, then wish it would all come back, and so become depressed!

Somehow, the football that starts for me and my team this weekend just won’t cut it any more. At last, I think I have finally had enough of football. The Olympics have made me see the light.

Famous last words…

Here’s to another Olympic-sized hole in four years time. Roll on Rio.