It wouldn’t be a good thing if I didn’t have Much Love for the Olympics. Today’s track is ‘Stir It Up’ by Bob Marley which is Olympic on two counts. First, because it’s from my favourite happy movie ever - Cool Runnings – and secondly because I thought that the Men’s 100 metres – surely the pinnacle of the Olympics – would be a green, red and yellow 1, 2 and 3. Sadly not to be.
I don’t have a television that’s connected to anything, so if it’s not on Youtube or on a French catch-up site, on DVD or on download, I don’t get to watch it unless I go to someone’s house. This is good because it’s approximately 2 years since I saw an advert, and that’s never a bad thing. However, yesterday, I spent a good eight hours watching events, I’m sure of it.
First, Super Saturday with gold medals for loads of Team GB. For a small country, we don’t do badly. No, we don’t have a population the size of the USA, and send hundreds of competitors. Nor do we have the rigour and drilling of China, and nor would we. What I love most is that ALL of the Team GB Olympians are such lovely, genuinely nice people that you really think they’re so deserving. It’s nice to see so many lovely, lovely people on screen, all being rewarded for their efforts, determination, commitment and talent.
Greg Rutherford, the gold medal-winning long jumper kind of sums up what’s great about Team GB. He’s genuine, humble and sincere. He’s the same kind of modest guy that filled the 2003 William Webb Ellis Cup-winning England Rugby squad.
From Mo Farah, the Somali-born 10,000 metre champion to Jessica Ennis, the gold-winning heptathlete, from Bradley Wiggins to Ben Ainslie, Sir Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton… and nine other gold winners, nineteen other medal winners… it’s just amazing. Andy Murray beats Roger Federer, finishing with a wonderful double ace to win in three straight sets… sailing, canoeing, cycling, swimming, diving, gymnastics… it’s just phenomenal. 541 athletes were selected to take part, and not a one is anything but a genuinely dedicated and sincere sportsperson. Compare that to football, where from England’s current 11, 5 of them are usually thugs of some kind or another, over-paid, aggressive philanderers who never have really got what it is to represent your country. The Olympics is a massive sea-change.
This is not before time. This time last year, riots tore apart cities and communities as bored and under-policed youths destroyed their home towns. This year, we’ve had jubilees and Olympics to bring Great Britain back together. Seeing everyone who’s turned out on the streets to see the cycling, the women’s marathon, the 80,000 people watching athletics last night… all the people watching it at home… it’s amazing. I hope a little bit of that pride, that sense of achievement, the sense of something wonderful happening, stays with every single person. It’s not just about the UK, either. I was getting as agitated over the Women’s Marathon as I was over Andy Murray, as excited about the potential for three Jamaican medals in the 100 m. It’s quite something that out of 8 runners, one of whom ran with an injury, there were 3 personal bests. Had it not been for Asafa Powell’s injury, that would have been the first 100m race ever where all 8 competitors would have finished under 10s. Absolutely Amazing
And you might not be into sports. Watching two hours of tennis might be torture for you. You might think it’s all a bit pointless to hang from the pommel horse or be able to do a backflip. But you can’t argue with the fact that this is where grit and determination, steel nerves and passion, commitment and enthusiasm all come together under one roof, and just for a moment, black and white, male and female, rich and poor, Muslim or Christian, they don’t matter. For a small period of time, we rise above ourselves and forget all the petty bureaucracy, the fighting, the arguing, the battles, the wars. We unite against bullies (as any of you on twitter will have seen with the idiot who tried to harass Tom Daley) and collective good triumphs. You can be the Queen’s grand-daughter, or you can be a refugee from a war-torn country, and there really is a level playing field. I think that’s a pretty great thing.
Nothing makes a Monday better than that.