Every four years I get addicted to sport for a fortnight. Barcelona ’92. Atlanta ’96. Sydney 2000. Athens 2004. Beijing 2008. London 2012. There’s something so special about the Olympics, I can’t put my finger on it or put it into words. The Olympics is a ~feeling.
The summer of ’92 was one of promise. I’d just left primary school and the long summer holidays stretched ahead of me with days to fill with adventure. Once the Barcelona Olympics were over that was. I remember one particular morning sitting on the sofa with my brother watching the Cubans demolish everybody at boxing – we spent the rest of the day singing the Cuban national anthem. That summer we played ‘Olympics’ a lot. Chris Boardman and Roger Black were my future husbands and I wanted to be Sally Gunnell when I grew up.
Fast forward thirteen years and London got the 2012 Olympics. I think, at the time, I was fairly nonplussed by this turn of events and remained largely so. The summer of 2005 held different promises: I’d just graduated from university, keen eyed and eager to get out and put my stamp on the world*. I suspect most of my nonplussedness came from not really having a long term game plan (I still don’t, I confess).
Last year when the Olympics tickets first went out to ballot, my Bestest and I came up with a game plan for events we wanted to apply for over the course of the middle weekend**. Our choices were based largely on the availability of mediaeval weaponry in the sports – archery, fencing and, err, badminton – and we were lucky enough to find ourselves with tickets to the men’s round of 16 in the archery. At Lord’s. Lord’s.
I wonder if I was more excited about going to the Olympics or going to Lord’s. Lord’s was a HUGE part of my childhood summers watching test match cricket with my dad and finally I was going to be there.
It was a totally and utterly surreal experience being at the Olympics, even with a week’s hindsight it doesn’t seem real that a sporting event I watch almost religiously (seriously, in the intervening period I’m not really that bothered about sport!) is happening in the city I’ve come to call home and that I GOT TO GO. I loved the archery, it’s so straightforward and it’s really fun trying to pick out the arrow as it flies across the field at around 70km/h.
It’s been so long coming that I can’t quite believe the Olympics are finally here and that they’re so close to being over. London being awarded the Games has been one of those markers of time between graduation and now. 2012 isn’t quite the summer of promise that 2005 or 1992 was, but I think if I try I could find a few…
*I’m a little more jaded now, age does that to you.
**I went to stay with her over the middle weekend of Beijing 2008, we watched a LOT of sport but failed at getting up in the middle of the night to watch the marathon (which I think is understandable really).