Without really putting in much effort, I have ended up experiencing more of the Olympics than I realised. After reluctantly going to see the Olympic Torch relay through Milton Keynes a month ago, my excitement about London 2012 reached unprecedented levels of patriotism and general planet-huggingly positive feelings towards the world. The Olympic opening ceremony was astonishingly good, not compromising the British identity but still putting on a spectacular show.
The Games themselves have been as watchable as they have been varied, and Team GB in particular have had an incredible level of success, with commentators falling over themselves to think of more and more impressive stats in their quest to wring every drop of overblown significance out of everything. Happily the athletes just got on with it and made their respective nations hopefully very proud.
So with this in mind, after a very busy few weeks of work for me, I decided I had to visit London before the main events concluded (which they are as I type this – Jessie J is driving around in an expensive car talking about how money doesn’t matter… hmm).
After buying some Olympics tat in a beautiful St Pancras International station, I went in the direction of Tower Bridge to see those marvellous Olympic rings suspended from one of London’s most recognisable sights. The word ‘iconic’ gets thrown around like it’s going out of fashion, but one of the old monuments of the London skyline combined with the world-recognised Olympic rings really was an iconic marriage that left no mistake of which major world event was happening in which major world city.
But wait, I got off the Underground at London Bridge (I stress I didn’t get the wrong bridge, a potentially wrong bit of internet guidance said London Bridge was the closest station), and the road was blocked off. Apparently the men’s marathon was on, and I’d just stumble on the route. After wandering around, I found a break in the crowd and set up camp by the marathon route to watch the 2nd and 3rd passes of the marathon racers.
After chatting with a very friendly family (the father of which knew a lot about London and the event), we watched as the three eventual medallists passed twice, as well as nearly 100 other runners. Finally I got to see an Olympic event!! The crowd were wonderful, and contrary to what I saw on TV and complained about, everyone was very supportive of all athletes, not just Team GB. I would have been hypocritical if I didn’t stay until every runner had been past, and clapped them all. Isn’t that what this is all about?
The walk to Tower Bridge via the Tower of London was wonderful, people from everywhere just milling about and enjoying the beautiful summer sunshine with smiles on their faces. After crossing a busy Tower Bridge, the South bank of the Thames was full of life, loads of events going on along the riverside. I may have blisters from the walking and sunburn from the weather, but I had a great time. I might even be tempted to talk about that nebulous thing people like to talk about so they can hold it over people who didn’t go, i.e. the ATMOSPHERE. But there was certainly something special going on in London and I am so happy to have shared it.