Thursday, 20 December 2012

So good they named it twice.

20.12.2012.  I love these magic dates, it makes me feel like there might be a reason for the world.  I therefore find the notion that it might end tomorrow highly suspect. Let's hope I'm right, not least because you'd miss out on the remainder of my twelve in 2012 blog posts!

Today I'm going to give you two things (huzzah!), because what else could I write about on 20.12.2012?

The Olympics.

I still don't have enough good words to describe how much I loved the Olympics.  I tried a bit here, but really I didn't do it justice.  From start to end, I just loved it.  I recently reviewed the tweets that I sent during the opening ceremony and they get increasingly excited and shouty with extensive overuse of the exclamation mark  
OMG, IT'S THE BLOODY QUEEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and so forth. Until Macca came on, then I gave up and went to bed. 

Generally, I remember doing an awful lot of crying and feeling very proud to be British.  I mean what could be better?  We had Super Saturday - Rutherford, Jess, MO! 
We had Andy Murray finally winning, WINNING! on the courts at Wimbledon, we had people breaking records, personal, Olympic.  We saw the magnificent Michael Phelps showing that he still had what it takes to be a superstar, both in the water and out, triumphant in victory, extraordinarily gracious in defeat.  We had the wonderful Clare Balding, the delicious Ian Thorpe and the magnificent Bert Le Clos.  I don't think I have ever felt so amazingly proud of my country, something that we don't seem to feel massively comfortable with expressing, we reserved Brits.  We welcomed the world to our small, tiny little island and we outdid ourselves.  What could be better than that?  I'll tell you......

The Paralympics

In 2012, the Paralympics came home.  First hosted in Stoke Mandeville to rehabilitate disabled veterans, this year the Paralympic Games hit the big time.  Usually seen as secondary to the Olympics, London 2012 smashed all previous records for ticket sales, as London got behind disabled athletes like never before.  This year, the Paralympics were never going to be the little brother.
I LOVE this.
Clearly the high profile of athletes such as Oscar Pistorius (SWOOOOOOON) helped to generate interest, but I think it would also be fair to say that none of us wanted to admit that the summer was over and we were ready to get behind our Greatest Team to see a second round of sporting excellence.  Some of the best performances for me were Oscar Pistorius (I LOVE YOUUUUUU OSSCAAAAAAAAAR!), Jonnie Peacock, David Weir, Hannah Cockcroft, Richard Whitehead and of course, Ellie Simmonds.

I was lucky enough to get tickets to a couple of sessions at the Olympic Park, one for the athletics and another for the swimming.  The athletics session was in the morning, so heats rather than finals.  But I got to see a great variety of classifications, so it was fantastic.  I saw David Weir win his 800m heat and that was an enormous thrill as I've enjoyed watching him compete in the London Marathon for quite a while now.  But funnily enough, that is not the memory that remains the most vivid.  That honour falls to the T11-13 men's 4 x 100m relay heats.  A T11-13 classification is for visually impaired athletes who may run with a sighted guide.

Before the first heat started there was an announcement.  We were asked to be silent throughout these races, as each athlete needed to be able to hear his guide, especially at the point where they needed to pass the baton to the next runner.  We were then told that we could start cheering once the last handover had been completed and all runners were on the final straight.

The gun went on the first heat.  The atmosphere in that packed out stadium was incredible.  Try to imagine the swell of energy generated by 80,000 people, on the edge of their seats, urging on these athletes, silently, but with every fibre of their being.  Try to imagine the explosion of noise that erupted when the last baton handover was complete and we were finally able to vocalise the emotion and excitement that we were feeling.  It was absolutely incredible and best of all, we got to do it all over again a couple of times as the heats played out.  I don't think that I have ever experienced such an intense, highly charged event as that, and I'm so glad that I got to feel a part of it.

That'll do for now.  But watch out for the next exciting instalment of twelve in 2012!


  1. The Olympics and Paralympics certainly brightened up a rather soggy summer, although the sun shone throughout the Games :-)

    1. It was as though we'd ordered the sun especially for the event :)

  2. I've banged on about the Olympics so much even since the summer. What an amazing summer, and I was only there for a bit of it.