How London 2012 changed my mind.


If you’d asked me three weeks ago what I thought of the Olympics, I would have complained that I was sick of it before it had even begun.

I was irritated that every national news bulletin has Olympic news at the head of every agenda.  I disagreed with the amount of money being spent despite our nation being in financial crisis. I was worried about the threat of terrorism and the G4S debacle didn’t help. I felt sorry for the servicemen being drafted in during their leave to provide security.

I watched the Opening Ceremony and had mixed feelings about it. I said the only event I was particularly interested was swimming.

It was when I ventured into Newcastle City Centre that I was gripped by Olympic fever. I saw hundreds of Games Makers in their purple uniforms, directing people from all over the world to St James’s Park for the football qualifiers. My dad was proud to be a Games Maker at the stadium and he made some great friends. Every time he was at the games, my dad had a great time and enjoyed meeting the public.

From then on, I became fascinated with the games.  The BBC’s coverage was absolutely thrilling and it has been revealed today that their radio, TV, online and interactive cost the licence payer £5.58 each – absolutely worth every penny in my opinion. I adored Michael Johnson – he was the voice of reason and intelligence during the commentary. I also appreciated the information given at the beginning of each relatively unknown sport so that viewers understood the rules and scoring system of the competition. The BBC’s segments reflecting on earlier famous Olympic moments were inspirational, emotional and very interesting.

But what I really loved about the Olympics was the spirit shown by the athletes and the whole country. The competitors showed us what true heroes are. They exhibited passion, dedication and determination, what more could you want from role models? If I were a parent, I’d want my children to aspire to be like these athletes.

Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah and Ben Ainslie, as well as all of the other Team GB athletes, proved that we don’t need to look at drugged-up models, morally loose footballers or anorexic TV stars for inspiration. The competitors in London 2012 showed what exercise, a healthy diet and hard work can achieve.

Greg Rutherford, winner of the men’s long jump, had previously considered quitting after being blighted by injury. And Andy Murray bounced back in spectacular style following a defeat in the Wimbledon final just weeks before. These guys really embody the tenacity needed to become successful.

But the Olympics weren’t just about gold medals.

Rebecca Adlington and Tom Daley, national sweethearts following Beijing 2008, may not have achieved gold but they conducted themselves admirably. My heart went out to Rebecca as she cried while collecting her bronze medal for the 800m freestyle. The reception she got from the crowd was incredible. And seeing Tom act like a real eighteen year old, jumping in the pool, following his bronze in diving showed him as a teenager – which is what he is. It’s easy to forget that some of these athletes are still children.

Mark Hunter and Zac Purchase, like many other athletes across the games, apologised for “letting people down” for achieving silver in the men’s double skulls rowing. Absolutely no-one felt let down by these athletes who obviously gave everything they had. The emotion showed by these stunning athletes put into perspective the petulance and immaturity demonstrated by the spoilt footballers people worship week in and week out. I wish those overpaid men would put in half the effort shown by these sportsmen and women.

The spirit of the games that took over Great Britain was incredible. We laughed and cried together, I adored the Twitter banter that we had and, for the first time in a long time, people were proud to be British. I really hope that spirit remains.

Now bring on the Paralympics!

Vic x

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