Monday, August 13, 2012

Reclaimed - If Only for a Short While

The 2012 Olympics are over, and I am bereft.  I managed to be home for the final full day of competition, and screamed with joy as Samantha Murray got a silver in the Modern Pentathlon, and marvelled at the poise and beauty of Anthony Joshua, as well as his unbelievable size, in winning the Super Heavyweight.  I even watched some of the handball final, and tried to spot a friend of mine at the basketball (failed!).  I was amused and confused and entranced by the closing ceremony.

It's hard to put into words what it has felt like over the past few weeks to watch it all unfold at home and not be part of it.  I'd planned to be here the whole time, and then I got that pesky thing called a job, and had to change those plans.  It was... upsetting, despite having an amazing summer and learning a lot. 

But trailing my giant suitcase from Leicester Square to Charing Cross yesterday, I felt something strange - happiness at seeing people with Union Flags draped over them.  Usually, if someone wears one of those, it brings up all sorts of repulsive associations: the BNP, the National Front, and visions of racist chants and vile behaviour.  So to have the display of the flag have a positive meaning was an extraordinary thing.  To have patriotism be genuinely that - a patriotic fervour in our nation - that of Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis, Greg Rutherford, Anthony Joshua, Louis Smith, Tom Daley, Chris Hoy, Nicola Adams, Bradley Wiggings, Kathy Grainger, Clare Balding - and not a synonym for for racism;; for Britishness meaning something other than just whiteness; this was a wonderful thing.  A weight lifted from our national consciousness.  It was truly liberating.  It'll be interesting to see how long it lasts...

Additionally, from a spectator's point of view, it was a glorious relief from the monotony of certain sporting events.  To really, genuinely, not give a flying monkey about the start of the footie season, or the PGA Championships (although nice work, of course, Mr. McIlroy), was a startlingly welcome experience.  I don't want football back, almost; at most, I want to enjoy the rest of the cricket season (although the England team is doing its best to ruin that, it seems).  I want something other than football, basketball, American Football, with their massive emphasis on money making to the detriment of all else, including health of their athletes.  Here were thousands of athletes who make little to no money from their sport, and do it just for the chance of competing to win; here were thousands of volunteers, making the Olympics work simply for the joy of doing that service.  It makes the "major" sports seem rather vulgar in comparison.

Having said that, no doubt I'll be back to screaming and yelling at Spurs in a couple of weeks, and for interceptions a few weeks later when the NFL starts up.  But, for now, not caring about it seems rather grand.

No comments: