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Olympic Fever

Friday, 27 July 2012

On Monday I will be at Greenwich Park to watch the cross-country day of the eventing competition in the London 2012 Olympics and I am so excited about it that I feel sick.  Seriously.  It's worse (or better?) than that feeling of anticipation and joy that you get on Christmas Eve.  I am having to actively stop myself thinking about it because I just want to go ARRRRRRRRGHHHHHHHHHHHHH extremely loudly every time that I do.

Here's the thing.  I love sport, even though I don't take part in anything other than swimming with any great regularity.  I volunteer with British Eventing and that's about as close to competition as I'll ever get.  But watching sport is brilliant.  I will watch almost anything (not golf.  It is the most tedious and pointless thing ever and especially the Ryder Cup with all those annoying Yanks bellowing "GET IN THE HOLE!") and this is only heightened during the Olympics when I become truly sports obsessed and plan all my time around what's on the tv.  Yes, I am that crazy person who books time off work just to make sure that I can watch certain events.  I devour excessive amounts of sports that just don't get much, if any, tv coverage the rest of the year and I love it.  I've watched things that I won't ever forget.

I remember Atlanta in 1996 and having a sleepover at my friend Ruth's house.  A houseful of 12 and 13 year old girls who, when we weren't busy drinking ridiculous amounts of coke or putting toothpaste in each others' hair (yeah, I don't know why we did that), were absolutely hooked on watching the gymnastics.  A small amount of drooling over Alexei Nemov as he won multiple medals may have taken place...

obviously known to us as Sexy Alexei...

I remember the rowing commentary from so many Olympics - that "Just!" for the four in Athens or "Go boys. Go boys!" for the eight in Sydney or the whole world going mad when Steve Redgrave won his fifth gold medal.

I remember this face:

I remember staying up all night for Sydney in 2000 watching something with very little British involvement that I didn't even understand the rules of (judo or something like that), desperately trying to stay awake so that I wouldn't miss Audley Harrison's gold medal fight.  And I don't even like boxing. 

I remember holding my breath as the stadium lit up with flashbulbs when Cathy Freeman sprung up out of the blocks at the start of the 400m final.

I remember sitting there utterly gobsmacked at how bad some of the riding was in the modern pentathlon at Bejing - one of the very few times I will ever think "I really could do better than that" about any type of top-level sporting event.

I remember those moments that truly define Olympic spirit.  Not just the world records and the gold medals and the superhuman performances.  Although I was young at the time of the Barcelona games and not even that interested in sport back then, I do remember Derek Redmond's semi-final race very vividly and it still makes me cry to watch it now.  Ditto Kerri Strug battling on through injury to win team gold in the gymnastics in Atlanta.  Even things like Eric the Eel struggling his way up the pool sum up exactly what it's all about.

The important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle, the essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.

So this year, although I'll no doubt watch an enormous amount of tv coverage and sit through some iconic commentary, it won't be the main way I remember these Olympics. I'm going to remember it because I'm going to be there.  Watching my sport, in my country, cheering on my heroes. I cannot wait.


  1. Ha look at your excited face in the top picture. I love it - your enthusiasm is awesome in this post.

    Also they were talking on the news that today is the day that they're checking all the horses over and I thought of you!

  2. SO ENVIOUS that you get to go to the eventing. This is my fave of the 3 day events, I applied for tickets for this but didn't get so will be watching ont telly. Enjoy you lucky thing!!!

  3. How exciting you got the eventing! We have tickets for the basketball - random - but we're going en famille and it should be an experience to remember regardless. Boy1 has been fascinated since the last Olympics (when he was 3) and we blithely promised we'd take him when it came to London, luckily we've managed it.

    I'm not a huge sports fan but I do like the Olympics a lot - looking forward to the BMXing on telly this time.

  4. Ohhh I'm so jealous! I'd love to go - I am NOT a sporty person at all but I love the Olympics! Hope you have a great time!! Xo

  5. Alex! That post made me all teary! I'm really excited for the Olympics now, can't believe I went and booked a bloomin holiday right in the middle of all the athletics. I'll be the girl sitting in the pub watching the telly while it's blazing sun outside!

    Have a wonderful time, I look forward to your post next week! x

  6. Alex you are my hero. I end up sitting on the edge of my seat watching the equestrian sections but this year I plan to try and watch as much as is humanly possible. I also have a serious thing for the Olympic Park as it was one of the geography redevelopment projects we looked at at A-level. xxx

  7. Have a fan-bloody-tastic time! I know you will.
    Enjoy Greenwich too - I fell in love with the place.
    Z xx

  8. Have a fan-blinking-tastic time Alex! I had thought about applying for tickets but in the end didn't. I shall be trying to watch all the tv coverage. I am taking special interest in all the events this year as it's here. I was shouting at some swimmers earlier. The patriotic side of me emerges at times like this!

  9. Also teary reading this. I love the Olympics. Eric the Eel is my favourite. I screamed him on. Usain Bolt makes me want to be Jamaican. I will watch any event, but especially if team GBR are on. Enjoy your trip of a lifetime xxx

  10. I never watch sport until the Olympics roll round and I am really getting into it again!

    Maria xxx

  11. Arrrhhh and they got a medal! I bet you had the best day ever.
    I definitely have Olympic fever!


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