The last two weeks have been amazing. I tried my best to sample as much of the Olympic fever as I could, but even having watched the men’s cycling on Box Hill, women’s football at Wembley, mixed doubles tennis at Wimbledon and the Closing Ceremony, I still felt like I was missing out. With so much going on, the spectacle was overwhelming. So much to see, so little time to see it.
These Games have revealed as much about myself as they have about the nation as a whole. I’ve long admired the Olympics and often wondered what it would be like to experience them for myself, yet I was too easily drawn into the cynicism that surrounded the build up. Many of the initial concerns remain — how wonderful it would be to see the IOC choose commercial partners more wisely. Thankfully, a sense of balance was restored with Danny Boyle’s thoughtfully choreographed Opening Ceremony — a sort of pep talk for the nation — and the 16 days of brilliant sporting action that followed.
Much of this featured British athletes winning medals; a refreshing moment in the national discourse when football took a back seat. Football did feature as part of these games of course. I dreaded the reappearance of a combined British team, fearing they might overshadow other competitions. Fortunately, the men’s team remained a side show while the women’s game got a massive boost, with sell out crowds passionately cheering on Team GB’s first — and possibly last — appearance at the Games. Watching them beat Brazil at Wembley was a rare treat.
Yet for me, the most enthralling action took place inside the Olympic Stadium. Friends told me that they thought Mo Farah would become the star of these games. While Jessica Ennis, the anointed face of London 2012, rose to the occasion and became Olympic Champion, I missed her heats as I tried to balance experiencing live events with being glued to the BBC’s comprehensive coverage. Thankfully, I was near a television (or more accurately, the interactive sports player) to watch both of Mo’s runs. The 5000m final saw me shouting “GO MO!” at my computer like a complete nutter! The strange yet pleasant feeling to be had when witnessing British sporting success. I’ve certainly got a taste for more.
Big events like this always have me yearning to represent my country on the international stage too; to be the best in my chosen field. The opening ceremony reminded me that the creative community can play just as important role as sport in this regard. How can I contribute my talents in a more meaningful way?
While the Games have inspired me to start running again (I’ve set a target to complete next year’s Brighton Half Marathon in under two hours) the real lessons focus on personal development. Returning to the goals I set for myself earlier in the year, again it comes down to pushing myself; seeking uncomfortable situations that force me to act on my toes and work to the best of my abilities. My forthcoming role as a Paralympic Games Maker, may be the first such test.