So the Olympics are over. 17 days of action, drama and bling. From a GB perspective the results were outstanding; the twin benefit of home advantage and monumental funding. Team GB can never realistically hope to go higher than 3rd place (China and the US are far bigger entities and out of our league) and beating our local European rivals was incredibly satisfying. The French claims of ‘Magic’ wheels (nearly, they’re MAVIC wheels) will live long in the memory, as will witnessing people that you know (in my case very peripherally) scooting around with great big discs of shiny metal swinging below their chops. In short, the games were fantastic.
We missed the opening ceremony by virtue of being in the middle of a blissfully Olympic unaware Loire valley. TVs on our campsite were rarer than a dry day in the valleys, so last night we resolved to not miss the closing ceremony, plonking ourselves down in front of the TV for a marathon of unique entertainment. It was certainly……..err……different. As the New York Times said:
‘It felt as if the Games had suddenly been programmed by England’s version of the Chamber of Commerce, which decided to take advantage of this final moment in the international spotlight to produce one long and kinetic ad for the country’s pop culture’.
Spot on I think, though I would describe the closing ceremony as a vast, expensive version of Eurovision, only with established and successful acts and even some who could sing (loved the Kaiser Chiefs version of ‘Pinball Wizard’). I certainly wasn’t expecting to witness a Pet Shop Boys comeback, their pointy hats looking like spare props from ‘The fifth element’ or a slightly lost George Michael looking your Dad partying on an empty dancefloor (YOUR Dad, not mine – mine’s even worse). However, in between the highs (The Who, Ed Sheeran and Nick Mason) and the lows (The fashion bit? Morris Dancers ????). Sitting on the sofa and watching the triumphant closure of the games made me feel rather uncomfortable. Many of the nations who competed at the games have extraordinary levels of poverty, yet there we sat marvelling at millions of pounds worth of pyrotechnics and booking fees going up in smoke. Call me naïve, innocent or a cherry picking moraliser, but it all felt a little bit wrong. Even as I type that, I feel like a right royal party pooper, which is definitely not my intention, so let’s park the cost for a moment and look at the great legacy of the Olympics.
The games turned out even better than expected and further funding has been secured. Splendid. Records were made. Hearts were broken. People who show little interest in sport became vocal in their support and knowledgeable overnight. But the most important bit, even more important than the smooth mechanism of the games delivery and the two fingers thrust at the pre-games naysayers, was the inspiration given to a whole generation of kids. It matters not a jot if they don’t become Olympians, successful regional athletes or ever even join a club. What matters is that they see value in exercise and teamwork, fresh air and application. It might just save their life. It’s far more fun to ride a bike or shoot an arrow or run a fast bend than it is to sit in front of play station, and there’s nothing like regular exercise to improve your overall health.
So thank you London 2012; so long and thanks for all the FISH (Fun, Inspiration, Sport & Humanity).