The Ramblings Of An Egg Chaser

Welcome to my blog on all things rugby related, my views are my own except where the voices in my head tell me otherwise.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Farewell Olympics

What a fantastic party it's been.  The World came to London and London did not disappoint.  As it's drawing to a close after 16 days of action packed moments I've decided to put down a few of the best, the worst and the could have been moments.  These are my personal observations and I'm sure that everyone's will be different so apologies if I haven't mentioned your favourite.

What's my biggest regret?  Easy.  Rugby sevens should not have been absent from these games.  It's an incredibly exciting sport that in my opinion would have been one of the most amazing crowd friendly spectacles.  It's coming in 2016 in Rio but I wish I had had the opportunity to watch it being played under the Olympic flag at HQ.  It goes without saying that rugby displays the kind of values that just epitomises the Olympic message and those who failed to get it included in time for 2012 know that the game of rugby and the Olympics missed out on something special (just ask BoJo). 

The most un-Olympic moments - as always there have been a few but fortunately they haven't ruined the party.  I've been yet again shocked, and apologies to my many friends from down under, by the pitiful whining and sour grapes emanating from Australia regarding their medal tally.  From refusing to show the medal table to 10 (when NZ were at 10 and ahead of Oz) and stopping it at 9 in the news reports on Australian TV to the accusations of Team GB "buying success" (conveniently forgetting the Sydney Olympics) which was quite wide of the mark as the UK's investment in sport is still, per head, less than that of Australia.  Australia's commitment to sport is incredible and should be aspired to by the rest of the world but the lack of understanding about sportsmanship means that they entirely miss the point of sport in the first place.  They are joined by the likes of Carl Lewis, allegedly accusing Usain Bolt of doping, and several similar messages from American competitors and coaches about other athletes,  just come across as being very unsporting losers.  Opting to lose should not be tolerated.  It goes against everything that the Olympics represents.  I was disappointed for the badminton players expelled from the games but completely understand why the IOA took that stance.  I don't understand however why they didn't apply the same standards to the Algerian runner in the 800m and 1500m.

And my favourite moments?  It's a tough decision to name just one - there have been so many great moments and incredible scenes.  I have loved every moment starting from an amazing woman uttering the words "Good evening Mr Bond" to watching Ben Ainslie carrying the Union Flag at the closing ceremony.   For the first time every nation included female athletes which shows the progress the world has made in recognising individual rights.  Team GB have produced their best ever combined performance in living memory.  Sir Chris Hoy, Bradley Wiggins and Victoria Pendleton have been joined by another generation of British cyclists who not only beat everyone else but beat records time and again.  But it wasn't the victories that struck me but the dedication and passion to be the best and the sportsmanship to win and lose with grace.  A nation learnt what it meant to be proud again inspired by genuine role models rather than the usual shower of wannabes that infest our everyday media.  The BBC showed why, when it comes to the really important stuff, it is still head and shoulders above Sky.  I dread to think the kind of shit that Murdoch and his phone tapping minions at Sky would have subjected us to if they had been allowed to buy the broadcast rights.  

Two competitors stand out for me.  Watching Oscar Pistorius compete was an inspiration and I applaud the decision to let him take part. He gives hope to so many and I was moved to see the respect that his competitors have for him.  He was there on merit and carried himself with incredible dignity.  A true Olympian.

However the athlete whose story affected me the most was of Guor Marial, A decade ago, Marial fled a refugee camp in what is now South Sudan during the civil war that ravaged the region for more than 20 years and left more than four million nationals displaced and untold dead.  Marial lost 28 relatives during the conflict and has not seen his family for almost two decades.  

"Growing up in the war it was dangerous and hard," Marial explained in a BBC interview. "It was about survival of the fittest. If you survived one day, OK, what's going to happen the next day? Growing up there, I did not know the outside world.  When I left the village and went to the city and came to Cairo and then the United States, the world kept opening and opening. There are other things, not just about killing each other."

To see him able to compete under the Olympic flag, as an independent athlete, after just about every ordeal or trial life could throw him was awe inspiring.  He finished 47th in the Olympic Marathon, an achievement that has much more significance than his position   The enduring quality of the human spirit to rise above war and despair to achieve what must have seemed impossible reaffirmed my belief that sport, more than almost anything, has the power to inspire.
That's it, a quick run through of my memories of London 2012.  I hope it triggers a few memories of your own.  It's been a blast - see you all in four years.

1 comment:

  1. It has been a great Olympics and your stories, along with many others, will remain in our memories for many years to come.

    I would add to your list the great work of the army of volunteers that helped to make these Olympics so successful. Rugby, like many sports, relies on volunteers for its existence, from coaches, referees and team managers, to groundsmen, administrators, cleaners amd caterers.

    The high profile that volunteering has been given at the Olympics provides an opportunity for all sports to encourage more people to get involved.