An Olympian Roar!9th August 2012
Every day of the London Olympics has been incredible! When Britain first won the bid in 2005, the celebrations were quickly dampened by the horror of the terrorist attacks on July 7th. From then on, British cynicism was at its best. Predictions of gloom, doom and despondency followed. The games were a waste of public money, the venues would never be built on time, the transport system would fail, it would be over budget, chaotic, embarrassing and a public relations disaster for London. This funny little eccentric island could never rise to the occasion.
I was at the Munich ‘72 Olympics where German efficiency prevailed and everything ran like clockwork. It was fantastic and I loved every minute of it but the big difference between Munich and London is the way the people of Great Britain have responded. The exuberance of the British crowds and the way they have embraced this sporting celebration with every fibre of their being is extraordinary to behold. The sportsmanship, sheer enjoyment and the roars of the spectators are overwhelming. Every athlete, broadcaster, observer whether British or not has remarked on this phenomenon. There is a buzz that has suddenly come back and even the weather has behaved itself.
Wondering whether I had been brainwashed by Olympic propaganda I contacted friends in Germany, Spain and France and asked them what the Olympics were like for them as non-Brits. ‘Amazing’ they said ‘It’s the crowds; it’s that roar, that energy that you see every time you turn on the TV. It’s infectious. You get such a great feeling just watching’
Even the normally miserable media have changed their tone. Daily reports contain language that would have been unthinkable a mere two weeks ago. The headlines scream about champions, glory, gold, triumphs and achievements. The athletes tell us about their pride, joy and unashamed pleasure in winning for their country and their team. Emotions in this stiff upper-lipped country have become unbridled and commentators, competitors and even royalty weep publicly, totally unashamed to express their delight and emotions.
So what has happened to make this normally self- deprecating, self- effacing country rise to the occasion like this? Is it about seeing these magnificent athletes perform that is so inspirational? Is it the fact that the athletes have no compunction in talking about their desire to be winners, to be the best and show their naked ambition to be number 1? Somehow seeing Usain Bolt storm the 100 metres, Michael Phelps swim like a God, Jessica Ennis perform unbelievable feats of athleticism and be proud of it is totally acceptable. Or is it that finally, this country has something which it can truly be proud of. It has created a massive success which has generated a feel good factor that millions of people all over the world are enjoying.
In a few days time this phenomenal event will be over for another 4 years and will probably never be seen again in this country in our lifetimes. But in these difficult times if we could get that same roar of the people behind our economy and businesses I am sure it would lift us in exactly the same way it did all those amazing athletes.