Golden memories of the 2012 Olympic Games – Part 2

Inspire a Generation
The slogan for the 2012 London Olympic Games was “Inspire a Generation” pictured here outside the Velodrome. And this message might just be the most important legacy of these spectacular events.

Dear Londoners,

As you surely know, the Olympics are now over. So, now we will inevitably turn our attentions to the legacy left behind.

But besides the buildings that we aim to convert into permanent sporting venues, all much-needed by our eastern communities, our amateur sporting clubs and our professional sporting teams, how about we consider a legacy of a different sort?

My Men's Basketball Tickets
My Men’s Basketball Tickets

How about we put a little attention to embodying that slogan we all got behind for just over two weeks? How about we truly inspire a generation?

How about we remember to be grateful for that much-maligned transport system that never failed to get us there safely, and on time?

How about we remind ourselves how we can actually have a great time without binge drinking and getting sick on the tube ride home, using the walls of buildings designed by Christopher Wren as our collective urinal, or getting intimidated on the night bus after an evening out?

How about we keep behaving ourselves at sporting events, cheering for all and booing for none, congratulating the losers for their tremendous efforts as much as we admire the winners for their incredible achievements?

Why don’t we keep showing the world, and not just on Remembrance Day, how appreciative we are of those men and women in uniform, and our security forces, who never failed to keep watchful, but smiling, eyes over all of us?

Basketball Arena
The Basketball Arena – one of the few venues that will be dismantled after the Olympic Games.

How about we keep showing that same friendly respect to our hard-working policemen and police women, even when they’re not atop the handsome horses we can pet?

How about we remind ourselves how good it feels to continuously see the faces of cheery people on their way, folks who only weeks before you would have scarcely made eye contact with across a tube train car, now striking up light conversations with us as we go about the business of just getting to where we want to go?

And while we are at it, let’s see a little more of that sunny attitude that simply doesn’t mind someone pushing into our sacred and orderly queues, doesn’t moan out loud when someone gets in our way on an over-crowded escalator, and doesn’t let the weather ruin our day?

Inside the Basketball Arena
Inside the Basketball Arena, where I saw Argentina beat Tunisia, and the Russians beat the Brazilians by a score of 76 to 75. What a game!

How about we keep seeing those friendly faces, and hearing those genuinely welcoming “hellos”, both outside and in the shops?

How about we stop complaining about the tourists that dig so deeply into their wallets to fleetingly taste the grandeur and spectacle of what we have long since stopped being impressed by?

How about we realise that being genuinely friendly, saying please, giving thanks, and smiling happily isn’t tantamount to being a plastic, over-the-top American wannabe, but is actually just decent, and a better way to live?

How about we keep giving our time to selflessly act in the service of our communities, just because we want to give to something bigger than ourselves?

The Aquatic Centre
The Aquatic Centre. Sadly, I didn’t get an opportunity to step inside this venue, but the we could hear the crowds roar with excitement from hundreds of metres away.

How about we not turn our backs on our youth involved in sport, begrudging expensive but necessary investments in facilities, coaching, research and development, that we will have to patiently wait four to eight years to see the results?

How about we stop putting ourselves down? Doubting ourselves? Needlessly worrying that we’ll somehow screw it up? How about we stop picking up on the smallest of faults in each other, and exaggerating them as symbols of our lack of moral character or the inevitable decline of western civilisation as we know it?

How about we stop letting the papers, the pundits, and the interest groups ceaselessly brainwash us into thinking that everything is shit and that our county is going to the dogs?

The Waterpolo Centre
The Water Polo Centre, which like the Aquatic Centre, will remain as a community watersports facility.

How about we stop being embarrassed to be proud? How about we recognise that when we call Britain Great, it doesn’t mean we think everyone else is crap?

How about we stop resting on the laurels of a long vanished empire and  focus instead on the spectacular contributions we have made in the last 100 years – to culture, to literature, to music, to art, to sport, and to those less fortunate than us?

How about we stop bashing the Royals, and follow their lead by not taking ourselves as seriously as we think we ought to be?

Beach Volleyball at Horsegaurds Parade
This was the scene for the Beach Volleyball semi-final at Horse Guards Parade, were over 12,000 people cheered on the USA Women’s team to edge out a victory over the top seeded Brazilians, to secure a place in the Gold Medal match.

How about we keep cheering on Somalian refugees who might some day make miracles happen, twice. How about we keep encouraging the children of mixed race couples who might one day justifiably merit the world’s admiration?

How about we really start looking on the bright side of life?

It was not without a tinge of melancholy that we bid farewell to that fiery cauldron late Sunday night. That beacon of symbolic unity, warmly linking our torchlit spirits across the many months and miles of expectation, serving to remind us of a worldwide tradition born over 3000 years ago. Its flickering embers going quietly into that good night, disappearing before us for the first time after being so hopefully, albeit slightly nervously, lit only 17 days before.

But are we sad because we’re saying goodbye to a worldwide sporting event that lands on our doorstep only every half-century, or are we sad to see those flames extinguish alongside a brief yet inspiring glimpse of how we can actually be?

There are few events on earth that so rarely fail to make our collective hearts beat faster, our spirits soar higher, and our pride beam stronger.

How about we wake up to the fact it really did happen. We didn’t just dream it. We actually did it. And, we can, one by one, in our own little way, keep doing it every day.

Yours Sincerely,

Becky.

The Olympic Stadium at dusk
The Olympic Stadium at dusk, the site of the Opening Ceremonies, what may go down in history as the greatest athletics competition seen to date, and the Closing Ceremonies on Sunday night.

4 thoughts on “Golden memories of the 2012 Olympic Games – Part 2

  1. I’ll never forget the elation felt in the city on 6/7/2005 when the announcement that London had been selected as the host city for the 2012 games. Nor will I forget the desperate low that came the next day, and the resolve with which all of us in London dealt with it, and got on with our lives.

    London, England, and Great Britain as a whole has always been a contradiction: the dark, satanic mills; the green and pleasant land.

    Bill Bryson once wrote, “What other nation in the world could possibly have given us William Shakespeare, pork pies, Christopher Wren, Windsor Great Park, the Open University, Gardners’ Question Time and the chocolate digestive biscuit? None, of course. How easily we lose sight of all this. What an enigma Britain will seem to historians when they look back on the second half of the twentieth century. Here is a country that fought and won a noble war, dismantled a mighty empire in a generally benign and enlightened way, created a far-seeing welfare state – in short, did nearly everything right – and then spent the rest of the century looking on itself as a chronic failure.”

    If the 2012 Olympic Games mark a turning point, then perhaps once again Britain and her people can look outwards with pride in her accomplishments, rather than inwards with an unwarranted cynicism. I hope so.

    Great post Becky.

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    1. Harvey! Your first comment on my blog!

      Thanks for you kind words and thank you for reminding me of Bill Bryson’s Notes from a Small Island! Oddly, this was one of the books that in part inspired me to move forward with my planned move to England! As you can imagine, I read as much as I could about what it would be like to live here, and portrait was one of the most humourously accurate ones I can remember.

      I too hope the current zeitgeist continues. I know we’re all a little shell-shocked about the party we’ve experienced this summer, and now we’re waking up the morning after, a tad hungover thinking… “Hmm, wow… did we really do all that?” as we search our bodies for embarassing tatoos.

      Time will tell if things will change in the long term, but I am optimistic that these Games will be remembered as a mirror not only of what we can be, but of who we always have been and only been a tad shy to reveal.

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  2. Wonderful Becky. What a fab post. I’m definitely going to miss the Olympics, more than I thought I would. I love the pictures you took!

    – Gwen xoxo

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    1. Another comment virgin! I was so excited to read your post about your experiences of Beach Volleyball, as I knew I’d be enjoying similar ones in just over a week! I’ve wondered how things felt outside of London. I know the spirit was felt nationwide, but I’m curious if you felt the same lightness of mood and saw the changes I saw in your neck of the woods?

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