London 2012: Olympic Fever in Canada
It seems that my timing with regards to the Olympics & Paralympics is impeccable. I chose to leave the UK and move to Vancouver one year after the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games and am still here over the London 2012 Summer Games. The decision not to go home this August was an incredibly difficult one to make, but unfortunately my lack of both vacation days and money made up my mind for me. I was very much at peace with the way my summer was panning out until today’s Opening Ceremony. I’m writing this while watching the 10,000+ athletes from around the world enter the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, and can truthfully say without a doubt that I wish I was there.
Although I missed the Vancouver 2010 games, I still feel very much connected to them through the growing number of friends and co-workers who worked for VANOC both before and during the competition. I’ve heard countless stories, anecdotes, confessions and inside secrets which have convinced a small part of my brain that maybe I was actually there. At least in spirit. Reading John Furlong’s (CEO of VANOC) inspirational book Patriot Hearts pretty much sealed the deal, and I’m still overwhelmed at just how much Canadians came together to support their country. Vancouver’s games definitely were Canada’s games, and I really really really hope that the games will do for the UK what they did over here.
I’ve been asked countless times what my fellow Brits think about the Olympics, and although I can’t speak for an entire nation I can say that I’m feeling very positive and honestly believe that this is a great thing for Britain. As much as my London-based friends complain about crowded transport and annoying tourists, I can’t help but think it’s all going to be worth it. I’ve been nervously checking my Twitter feed all day to check the mood back home, and am so happy to read so many positive thoughts. It seems like the entire country (if not the entire world) is watching the Opening Ceremony, which is impressive as it’s almost 1am back there.
The Opening Ceremony itself did not disappoint. I grinned my way through the opening video along the Thames, and screamed hysterically at the Eastenders drums. Rowan Atkinson’s Mr. Bean skit was inspired, and the oh-so-politcal ode to the NHS made me proud. I loved the journey through music, and particularly Brookside’s lesbian kiss making television history around the world. The Arctic Monkeys and Paul McCartney were eclipsed only by Steve Redgrave and the young athletes lighting the world’s most awesome cauldron. And as for James Bond and The Queen herself?! Oh Mr. Boyle, you did us proud.
My Union Jack flag is well and truly taped to my balcony in a show of patriotism that I’d usually avoid. This is very, very different to the hanging of a St. George’s flag during a football tournament; this is real national pride and not an excuse for hooliganism (for some). I will be cheering for every single one of the 542 athletes currently working their way around the Olympic Stadium and I can’t wait to represent my country (in the non-sporting sense) in Canada. All that’s left to do now is pray that the rumour about the Spice Girls performing in the closing ceremony is true. If you’re lucky enough to be a Brit at home, please stop moaning, make the most of being there and wave a flag for me. Please?