One of things that struck on my way home from work yesterday came out of almost nowhere. Sitting on the bus and staring out the window casually, I saw a brother and his younger sister, no older than around 8 and 5 respectively, setting up plastic cones in their garden. They then picked up a rounder’s ball and bat and proceded to chase each other around their garden. I thought the bus was going to whoosh off at this point, but it seemed to hang on for just the right amount of time. They then set up a small stool on the patio in the garden and the girl proceeded to step up onto it before her brother took out a shiny medal from his pocket. At this point I realized that they were both wearing London 2012 t shirts and hats. It was one of the most poignant things that I have seen over the last few weeks.
Legacy is a word that is batted around by everyone. What is going to be the long term outcome of the Games? Is the Olympic Park going to become a ghost town like Sydney’s has 12 years later – how can we possibly keep this spirit going? Well it seems that the seeds have been sown. These Olympics were different, they were not meant solely for breaking records or breaking hearts but breaking barriers. Stratford was a dump 7 years ago…an industrial wasteland, a forgotten place only remembered for its train station. Now water flows through its canals and the world watches as the people of such a city welcome them with open arms. East London, despite what you read in the papers, has changed. It seems to be more vibrant, fuller of life and definitely an improvement on the rioting of last year. Can you believe that that chaos was merely a year ago?
If this country continues to get fatter and disregard the sport, it will not be a loss if they embody the spirit. An Olympian is of a different breed – destined for greatness…but not necessarily all Olympians race on an athletics track. They teach in classrooms and build houses. They drive ambulances and ride bicycles. Are you getting it yet? YOU can be an Olympian…and you and you and you in the back peeking at the screen. You can wear a gold medal around your neck (not like literally, but I carrying on the Olympic metaphor) and show the world the potential and capacity of human beings. I hate the expression reinvent the wheel, but it is probably relevant here. How many times have our jaw drops this fortnight from the superhuman feats that we have witnessed in London (and I am not just talking about a certain 100m and 200m sprinter!)
Frank Sinatra called it the final curtain and described his way. Seb Coe called the end the right way at the Closing Ceremony. But it doesn’t have to end this way. If anything the encore is about to come on the 29th August, when the Paralympics come to town. For those of you that don’t care, I would appreciate if you don’t read this blog again because if you cannot recognize their achievements especially on your doorstep, then frankly you wouldn’t recognize talent if it punched you in the face.
The Olympics was a warm up for the most important Games…are you ready to ‘Inspire A Generation’ (again!)? I know I am.