Olympic Sized Hole

Yesterday was the first day I’ve had in a little while without any Olympics action to look forward to. Much as I feel very hypocritical for saying this, because I wasn’t impressed with the Games going to China due to their terrible human rights record, I do think the Olympics were a sporting triumph and an amazing spectacle, one of the best I’ve seen in my lifetime.

But all of a sudden, with them ending, I feel empty. I watched the closing ceremony with a forlorn sadness, even stifling a tear or two at the lowering of the Olympic flag and the extinguishing of the flame (bloody symbolism always gets me for some reason). It’s been awesome getting up every morning to see the latest Olympic successes of the British team, and watching loads of sports that I had never really given a consideration to in the past. Track cycling, for example. Swimming. Even diving. But then again, it doesn’t take much for me to get an interest in a sport. I can watch most sports pretty easily. Except weightlifting. I draw the line there…

I remember watching the Atlanta Olympics. My first Olympic memory. I remember Britain being a complete disaster, failing in most things. I remember lots of complaints from people – why are we so bad? But it turns out that was the absolute low point, and we seem to have used that to turn ourselves around. It’s been really cool to feel part of something for a change. Which is rather odd, because I haven’t done anything but watch the telly and cheer on people who happened to be born, by total accident, in the same country as me.

It’s just a part of human psychology though. We like to feel part of something. We need associations and belonging. I could identify with any country. The choice is arbitrary. But I might as well identify with the one I’m from. That, to me, is the limit of my patriotism. There are a lot of things wrong with this country, but just for a moment it’s nice to forget them and celebrate the achievements of some amazing athletes. They worked hard and deserved their success.

However, I doubt we will be as successful in the future with the rise of China… somehow I suspect that after London 2012 we will be slipping backwards towards our low point at Atlanta. China has the manpower, the financial clout, the discipline and the national fervour for sporting success to complete a clean sweep in every sport. And even more so now they have the legacy of the fantastic facilities to practice in. Nervous times for the rest of the world.

One of the most painful parts, however, was hearing the national anthem, which is a total dirge. Even after listening to it 19 times for the 19 different gold medals, it simply will not wash with me. There’s always the hope that a new monarch will change the anthem, but I suspect Chas will only change the “Queen” to “King”. But even then, I don’t see the Queen shuffling off any time soon. I digress…

As I was saying, now it’s all over, I have to find something else to fill my time. It was great fun, and I wish it went on for longer (two weeks seems awfully short for something that happens every four years) but then again we all say that whenever we’ve just enjoyed something. It’s going to be a long four years till the next Games. Having said that, I’m sure it will just fly by. Just like every other day lately.

A nice depressing note to end on.