Saturday, 11 August 2012

Not dead inside after all

Ach, you know what? I was going to try and describe how I have a love/hate feeling about the London Olympics. About how I still stand by the hypocrisy of how it was funded, about the sponsors, about the selling out... but, it's been awesome, just awesome, watching the individuals fight for their place. Whether they got gold or not, whether they just qualified and that was it, whether they came back and got the best bronze ever, whether they already have a gazillion medals, you would have to be dead inside to not feel stirring of some kind of emotion when people work so very hard and achieve what they've dreamed of. 

And where the hell have all these British athletes come from? The first Olympics I remember was Los Angeles 1984. It was Daley Thompson, Zola Budd and Mark Decker Slaney. A time when the East Europeans dominated all sorts of events and we wouldn't and couldn't get much of a look in anywhere really, apart from the odd event.

And somehow I can't remember much about any other Olympics up until this one. 

It's suddenly 2012 and we are inexplicably third in the medals table. How? When? Where did all these amazingly talented youngsters come from? Was it the fact that it was hosted here? Is that what it took to give them a boost? Or is it investment in training combined with a proper crackdown on the cheating that fucked up a lot of athletics and gymnastics for years? 

Who knows? Who cares? I love the fact that some random ginger lad won the long jump, that we seem to have triumphed across almost all disciplines, that Tom Daley got a medal, that Mo Farrah won twice and that Jessica Ennis was flawless. 

The Opening Ceremony literally ignited my interest for these Games. I thought I wasn't bothered. I felt I didn't care. And actually I do. I like watching people do well. I like watching what the human body is capable of if it's treated in a certain way. I like armchair athletics and listening to everyone becoming sudden experts on things they've never done and are never likely to do. I like seeing gorgeous looking men and women in skimpy clothes being happy. 

I like the arrogance of Bolt and the humble practicality of Farrah. I especially liked the South African swimmer's dad. He was awesome. 

I like the fact that Cameron is being forced to allow money to be pumped into sport in the run up to Rio 2016 - the money was going to stop in 2014 apparently but now we're apparently good at it he's making some kind of speech tomorrow to announce that actually, they can have some cash after all. 

And in a world where grandmothers apparently murder their granddaughters and hide the body in their own house, where soldiers are dying for pointless wars and where politicians continue to fuck with our lives, it's nice to see people being happy. 

I still won't sing the national anthem, and I still won't enjoy Paul McCartney's inevitable reappearance at the closing ceremony tomorrow - although if the rumours are true and he is playing, at least he's on a bill with the Spice Girls so perhaps he'll look good next to that inevitable embarrassment. I really really hope they're miming...

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