What will I do without the Olympics?

Forgive me, but I might be grumpy for the next few days. Why am I going to do now without the Olympics?

Catching up with an English friend on Saturday afternoon, I mentioned the ridiculous extent to which I have loved these games. {And when I say “loved”, I mean I sincerely and unproductively had a hard time concentrating on anything else for the last two weeks.} My friend replied that it was typically British to modestly joke – and secretly worry – that they would somehow mess it up. Rewind a few weeks and The Guardian was already tired of lead-up specials to the games. The BBC kicked things off with a “manage your expectations” tone in Benedict Cumberbatch’s mysterious introduction to London  … would they pull it off?

How lucky we were. These games were spectacular.

I’ve always been crazy about the Olympics – but these games made me feel like a little kid again, waiting for “Bugler’s Dream” and “Olympic Fanfare” to come on {I still rue the day I found out this was only a “US thing”}, getting all wound up like only a child can for something great to start.

Flash forward and I’ve found myself literally hopping out of my chair to cheer a runner on, shouting at the screen like a crazy person, tripping across the apartment rather than miss a result and joining all my Irish colleagues around one tiny computer screen at work, for just 8 minutes, to watch Ireland’s only chance at a gold medal in boxing {I don’t even like boxing…}.

10, 500 athletes. 302 medal events. 26 sports. 16 days.

It was so easy to get caught up in it all…even more so if you watched the BBC coverage. Their commentators’ heartstrings were on the pitch or in the pool right alongside the athletes. There were also moments when you were reminded that the whole world doesn’t approach competition in the same way (South Korean gold medalist in archery Ki Bo-bae crying over a score of 8, or Chinese diver Qiu Bo distraught over a silver medal while Team GB’s Tom Daley jumped in the pool to celebrate a bronze.) And we could have overlooked the lifetime of dedication these Olympians put into the games and how strained and short many of their Olympic moments are, were it not for some edgy and touching documentaries, such as this one on the Nature vs Nurture debate or Michael Johnson’s piece on the pressure home Olympic stars face.

London could have been exhausted from a whirlwind two years. Just barely recovered from the royal wedding, London threw itself at the Jubilee celebrations and then turned around to give the world the best show on earth. It wasn’t just that they were proud of their city and their athletes, London seemed truly honored to host the Olympics and {putting all controversy about the games aside} what it originally stood for. They were proud of their city, their culture and their athletes, thrilled by the competition and motivated by how painstakingly planned it all was.

Every two years the world becomes a little bit happier. At least that’s what I would like to think about the Olympics. Two weeks of inspiration, hope, drama, dedication and sacrifice. All that is heartfelt. And this year, London made it extra special.

Writing this post while watching the closing ceremony, I’ll admit I got nervous that London’s absolute perfect score might fall a bit short… {barring the too-short-but-absolutely-spectacular-return of the Spice Girls and this clip of Boris Johnson dancing to them}… but then Eric Idle appeared and sang “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”.

I, for one, feel my life has been brightened. Thank you, London.

Top images are of my TV screen over the past few weeks. / Bottom photo from the closing ceremonies by FRANCK FIFE/AFP/GettyImages, via Encore, Life! 

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2 comments
  1. aysegul said:

    You are just right! I dont know why but this year, I was more into the Olympics!

  2. Ryan Bowles said:

    Jess, have you ever attended an Olympics in person? I know that’s one of my dream vacations.

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