Because I live so near some of the Olympic venues in London, my daily life has been very much impacted by The Olympics. From the day that we knew just how much it was going to affect us, we just decided that we’d embrace it; not moan, not sign any petitions against the missile on the heath and not get involved in any negative talk at all. We were lucky enough to get tickets to several events (between us all) and I went to Show Jumping in Greenwich Park, Women’s Boxing and The Modern Pentathalon, while the rest of my family saw Tai Kwondo, Handball, Water Polo, Basketball, Dressage, Women’s Wrestling and Hockey.
So, we’ve really lived it, from friends dancing in the opening ceremony, road closures, a giant public screen on the heath, a people-traffic flow system that has sent thousands of visitors across my morning dog-walk path to the utter charm and delightfulness of every single volunteer we came across, the efficiency of the armed forces and the almost unbelievable meticulous organisation of the entire event…it’s been amazing.
I’m so proud that London could put on such an incredible event and have never felt closer to my nationality than I do now. The Olympics have brought out the very best in people and I’ve seen things I never thought I would – two teenagers in Trafalgar Square holding ‘Free Hugs’ signs and people accepting and giving hugs left, right and centre, my 70 year old mum being frisked by a solider and loving it (!), strangers sitting together on the grass in front of the big screen chatting about sport, women athletes having the trendiest nails in the world, the Queen ‘parachuting’ with James Bond and London in a grip of previously unknown community spirit. It’s like the wind blew a happy cloud over us.
The people who viewed the Olympics as a chance to be greedy didn’t succeed; hotel rooms at treble the price weren’t filled, local houses trying to rent at extortionate prices left empty and crappy over-priced food being ignored in favour of home-made sandwich picnics. And yet, those who gave for nothing – the volunteers and local residents – have had their generosity rewarded time and again for being such an integral and excellent part of London’s greatest ever show. They’ve been noticed and noted and I hope that some volunteers at least get a chance to use their experience to help put them back into full-time employment.
My favourite moments of the games have been seeing disabled althete Oscar Pistorius run in an abled bodied Olympics for his home country of South Africa, discovering The Modern Pentathalon Equestrian section is an undiscovered highlight and so exciting, and seeing Tom Daly pick up a bronze medal for diving. Oh, and I can’t not mention the voice recognition sub-titles on the big screen that had athletes racing in birds (boats), put two Libyans (Olympians) in a British canoe and assured us that the weather would be a little blighter (brighter) later in the day.
In a couple of weeks time we have the Paralympics starting and although it isn’t on the same scale, it’s exactly the right note to gently ease London through its Olympic withdrawal symptoms and for us to see even more stunning global ability as we slowly settle back to normality. It’s been beautiful.