I didn’t think I would be much interested in the Olympics. When the flame came through the place I was born, about three miles away, I didn’t go to see it: I muttered something about having seen fire before and went back to sleep. I don’t do sport, or watch sport (apart from Wimbledon). So I thought I’d be letting the Olympics wash over me.
But I haven’t. From the opening ceremony (which, as my friend Rebecca pointed out, is impossible to talk about without sounding as though you’re recounting a bizarre dream – ‘and then these chimneys came up, and there were suffragettes, and then all of theses Mary Poppins flew down from the sky, and Dizzee Rascal and Mr Bean were there…’) I was hooked. I’m not sure that my ‘I’ll just make some toast and then sit on my backside for four hours watching other people run and jump’ is completely in the Olympic spirit, but I’ve enjoyed it nonetheless.
I’ve loved the fact that the athletes have been so clear about how much hard work, slog and determination has gone in to theur victories. I’ve loved the way they have thanked all the people who have supported, encouraged and trained them.
I’m proud that we have (mostly) managed to be proud without being jingoistic. And. from what I’ve seen of coverage from other countries, this seems to be a general theme.
It’s great that within 10 minutes of sitting down and watching a sport I didn’t know existed until I switched the TV on, I feel like an expert. I can suck my teeth at poor technique and predict the winners with the best of them.
The first words that one of the canoeing gold medal winners said to her partner on winning were, ‘We’ve won the Olympics! We’re going to be on a stamp!’ Fabulous.
All the smiling has made me smile.
And, most of all, the feeling that, although what we have seen is excellence in sport over the last couple of weeks, most of what we have admired has been transferable. The determination, the support, the trying, the reaching out, the ingenuity, the focus, the sheer bloody-mindedness that has brought the Olympics into being – all of these things can be, are, applied in other walks of life.
So, somehow, watching the Olympics has made me all the more optimistic that cancer will be curable one day.