London 2012 – Cheering up a Miserable Island


A few days ago Sir Steve Redgrave referred to ‘that legal high that is an Olympic medal’. The idea of a legal high however suggests some sort of oxygen bar gimmick at a festival in surrey for the ‘kooky Dads’ to go and get a slightly light head. If London 2012 were a drug it would without a doubt be illegal.

For the past seven years Briton has been on a slow intravenous drip of ‘London 2012 Olympics’, we’ve all moaned and groaned as it’s always been there, a tube directly into our bloodstreams that we didn’t necessarily want. It seems that as soon as the dose was increased from the start of the opening ceremony we have all become addicted, pumping more and more of it into ourselves with each passing day and each new medal.

The effects of the drug have been astonishing. In supporting Britain with rapidly increasing zealousness everyone is becoming decidedly less British. The media have stopped preaching economic and social doom like some sort of delirious man in rags and are expounding positivity in their place. People out and about are on a high, positivity, patriotism (of the best kind) and pride have put a slight spring in everyone’s step.

I work in a bar that actively avoids associating itself with sport, but last night I found myself red-faced and cheering in a crowd of men and women all focussing everything they had at the screen, willing Mo ‘The Mobot’ Farah over the finish line, and my God he delivered. This followed the rapturous response to the majestic performance of Jessica Ennis in the Heptathlon and blended with the surprise success of Greg Rutherford in the Long Jump – mixing a cocktail that went straight to everyone’s heads.

The emphasis of this year’s games is to inspire a generation. A single generation? The inspiration is flowing through age boundaries as if they don’t exist. It may be too late for most of us, but I hope that those younger than me are hungry for it now. In the last piece I wrote for this Olympic series I was decidedly negative about the future of British sport, I think I’ve found myself sat at a daunting banquet of my own words to eat up following our astonishing rise up the medal table.

The team GB football team dive-bombed out on the same night in the way that seems to characterise the little wind-swept spit of land on the edge of the North Sea that we call home: penalties in the quarter finals. But for once in my life (and I can’t believe I’m about to write this), football is playing second fiddle to just about every other Olympic sport. So whilst Stuart Pearce idiotically let an Englishman take the final penalty, I was almost too drunk on Heptathlon, 10k, Rowing, Long Jump and cycling to care. Football has made me cynical.

Great Britain could almost have been renamed ‘Sad Britain’ in the run up to these games, or perhaps ‘Meh..Britain’. Weeks of rain was getting us all down. Finally the sun has found his hat and put it on, and the British public have momentarily forgot about the recession and the fact that the toilet needs a good clean. We’re all getting high on Olympic success and it’s making the country a happier place, a less cynical place. That is without doubt one of the most beautiful things about sport.


I study history. I like sport.

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