A rather British affair at the Olympics
As I’m sure many of you would agree, for me, the first two weeks of August were entirely dominated by the Olympics. It has been a long time coming and whilst there has been lots of um-ing and ah-ing over the chaos it would cause in London or the amount it was all costing (not from me I can assure you), I think Britain must now just admit it: We absolutely loved the Olympics. The viewing figures of all the events were astonishing and the justified outrage at the empty seats only proves that people were genuinely desperate to be a part of everything. My family came up from Plymouth for a week to enjoy the Olympics with us too and that only made the whole thing more exciting.
Unlike many disappointed people, we were lucky enough to get tickets and be able to explore the Olympic Park. Ramsey, Mum and I went to the Park on Thursday of the first week to watch the events in the sunshine (thankfully!) on the big screen, surrounded by supporters, whilst Dad and my brother watched the boxing at the ExCel. The British weather didn’t disappoint either and although we spent the whole time putting coats and cardigans on and off again (and tights too which was rather more of a challenge), it only rained once and for only a couple of minutes. It was a wonderful, if tiring, day (all that sitting around in the sunshine in the Olympic Park really does take it out of you) but we left ready and eager for our outing on the Friday. We had tickets, all 5 of us, for the first session of athletics at the London 2012 games. This session included Jessica Ennis’s first two events, 100m hurdles and high jump. It was just amazing to be in such a jam-packed stadium. The noise coming from 80,000 people as Jess Ennis set a heptathlon world record in the hurdles was overwhelming, even for us. I can’t imagine what it must have felt like for her. Furthermore, the time she set would have won her a gold medal in the individual 100m hurdles event at the Beijing olympics. A fantastic achievement. Of course, she went on to win the gold medal comfortably the next day, even winning her 800m race when she barely needed to complete it. It was the perfect way to finish her heptathlon and she will go down in history for being such a respectable and class athlete.
Another highlight of the heptathlon on Friday was the lovely Katarina Johnson-Thompson. At 26 years old, Jessica Ennis is a well-seasoned, experienced and successful athlete. She seemed to enjoy the support of the crowd, encouraging us to clap along to psych her up and celebrating when she was pleased with her performance. In between events though and as she took her position to compete, she was the model athlete: calm, collected, quiet and absolutely in the zone. She gave a grateful wave to the crowd as her name was called but was entirely focused on what she was about to do and how she was going to achieve what she needed. Katarina was completely different though. She is only 19 years old and whilst she has had substantial junior success and did meet the qualifying A-standard in June of this year, she seemed a little overwhelmed by the support of the 80,000-strong crowd and was a delight to watch. For many of the spectators there, this was the first athletics meeting they had been to and to see this giggling, excited, young Briton jumping up and down and waving at the crowd before her events was just lovely. Not only that, but she did fantastically. She even beat Jessica Ennis in the high jump to finish second overall in that event and of the 7 events she achieved 3 personal bests and equalled another. She finished 15th overall and is definitely one to watch in the future. Louise Hazel, the third athlete competing for Great Britain, also achieved a personal best in the javelin. It really was a day for Britons.
And wasn’t the whole Olympics a time for Britons? I am gobsmacked at how much we have achieved during this Olympics Games. By day 8, we were already about to top our gold medal tally from Beijing and we comfortably exceeded it by the end. One can’t help but notice either that this really has been a time for women too. Jess Ennis, Vicky Pendleton, Christine Ohuruogu, Lizzie Armitstead, Dani King, Joanne Rowsell, Laura Trott, Becky Adlington, Gemma Gibbons, to name but a few. Don’t get me wrong, the men have done fantastically well too but it is just fantastic to see women in sport getting so much deserved attention. Hopefully the games will have the legacy that was intended and the success that we have experienced so far across many sports will inspire young people to get involved and excited about sport. The pink and purple theme of London 2012 now seems entirely appropriate!
Now, we’ve got the paralympics to look forward to. We are lucky enough to have tickets for the swimming and I cannot wait! I wish Team GB all the same success and more in the Paralympic Games. Let it be the best there’s been.
I really hope everyone enjoyed the games. Let me know if you’ve had a chance to go and see them!