Sadly the Olympics are now over. Medals have been won, generations inspired and new heroes have taken their places in the pantheon of sporting legends. Having the Olympics on my doorstep has been incredible, an experience that has genuinely inspired me; not to take up sport but to train even harder. Like many others I experienced the intial Post Olympic Depression (P.O.D.) described here by others but with the Paralympics still to come I am delighted to say that the summer of sport is far from over.
Indeed, there is a strong argument that the Paralympics are even more inspiring than the Olympics. To achieve the athletic pinnacle is an astounding achievement but to do it while simultaneously overcoming physical impairments is arguably even more impressive. Remember the bodies only warm up you do at the start of every session? Imagine racing a full course like that with no legs involved at all. Trunk only rowers will be doing just that in a couple of weeks time back at Dorney Lake. Incredible!
However, despite the wealth of positive feeling that still exists around the Olympic experience of this summer the “L” word still looms large over everything. No, not Leander but Legacy. The initial signs are good. My own club has already experienced over double the number of their usual applicants for new membership for next season and with five weeks still to go until the first training session that number is surely only going to increase.
I hope. and I am sure. other sports are experiencing the same thing. Womens boxing must surely be seeing a huge uptake in numbers while I can only imagine the number of young girls hoping to be the next Jess Ennis, or young guys taking up sport hoping to meet the next Jess Ennis! British cycling membership has seen enormous numbers become new members on the back of the Tour de France and the Olympics and who says the stony promenades of British beaches aren’t ripe for some Beach Volleyball. Copa Cobana eat your heart out, we have Eastbourne!
I am, by nature, a cynic and so while I was looking forward to the Olympics beforehand I can’t honestly say I expected to be hooked by Handball, Pommel Horse or 10,000m running. But I was, I really did get obsessed. Naturally enough rowing was the biggest attraction and the biggest hook for me but other sports fascinated me and so I feel a run down of my reflections on the Olympics was in order.
Favourite Moment: The Queen. James Bond. Chariots of Fire. Mr Bean. Honourable mention for Eric Idle singing “Always look on the bright side of life”.
Least Favourite Moment: One Direction being allowed within 50 feet of the Olympic stadium for the closing ceremony. Major breech of security and protocol.
Favourite Iconic Sporting Moment: Being in the Olympic park to watch Mo Farah win his second Gold with 5,000 others in front of the big screens.
Least Favourite Iconic Sporting Moment: Watching the Eight win Bronze and Purchase and Hunter win Silver. Not because they let anyone down but to see the “all or nothing” spirit I so admire come so close to victory. Heroes every one of them but painful to watch.
Favourite venue: Beach Volleyball arena. What a setting. Whoever came up with the idea to hold the beach volleyball at Horse Gurads Parade is a genius and deserves a medal of some sort. Preferably Gold to take us up to 30.
Favourite New Sport: Handball. Fast and entertaining. I was lucky enough to go to the womens Handball final and the atmosphere was incredible. Loved it.
Least Favourite New Sport: Dressage. I could quite happily never watch that again.
Favourite “I Was There” Moment: Watching Katherine Grainger win Gold from the stands at Eton Dorney. Simply phenomenal.
Random Athlete Moment: Bumping into Constantine Louloudis on the underground a week after winning Bronze.
Best Reaction To Winning: Katherine Copeland in the lightweight womens double sculls was genuine and brilliant!
Proud to be British moment: The first Saturday. Six Golds and three of them in those 46 amazing minutes. Boom!
Best Presenter Award: Michael Johnson. Not just for brilliant insight into athletics, which I personally find dull unless he is talking about it, but for his obvious disdain for the mindless gibberish spewing out from Denise Lewis and Colin Jackson. Brilliant. Clare Balding and Mark Foster also deserve recognition for making a bad GB swimming performance bearable.
Worst Presenter Award: Bronze medals to the two above. Silver goes to Jake Humphreys for his insufferably bad banter. Gold goes to John Inverdale. How he can talk over Redgrave and Pinsent about a sport he clearly knows little about is beyond me. Just awful.
Implausible Organisers Decision: Sucking up to the fame of David Beckham. Isn’t the point to highlight sports that don’t usually enjoy the limelight of football?
Inspirational Moment: Bolt back from the brink. I have had my own fair share of injuries and to see him overcome the doubters was great to see. Not a huge fan of the showmanship but he has the goods to back it so good on him. To put it in a rowing context he ran 100m with a split of 0.48.15/500m. Reminds of my erg scores… before the injuries!
I can honestly say I loved every moment and I for one can’t wait for the Paralympics. See you all at the start line in Rio!