It's all been about 'inspiring a generation', about getting kids away from the telly and playing sports, exercising, essentially facing the spectre of obesity head on by running really fast, running for a really long time, running half-way along a stage before doing handstands or just running out of breath doing something that doesn't involve an X-Box. Sounds like a great idea. In fact just last night I overheard my daughter, as I was putting the boy to bed, saying, 'when I grow up I want to either be a tennis player, a badminton player or a basketball player.' Of course she's wanted to be a vet, a space scientist, a book writer and an inventor too but well done Olympics for inspiring a sporty thought to enter my seven-year-old's head. It's even got me questioning what to do about my expanding waistline.
I am fat, there I said it. Not bedridden or unable to walk, but rotund enough to get out of puff tying my shoes and the Olympic efforts of Team GB have simultaneously filled me with pride and showered me with shame at being a loafer. On Super Saturday, as I sat watching the lithe Mo Farah, making 10,000 metres look like a leisurely stroll around a very small garden centre and Jessica Ennis, completing the Heptathlon in less time than it would take me to complete a crossword in Take a Break, I thought about the upturned turtle act I perform every time I attempt to lever myself off of the sofa and felt all the more ridiculous for it.
Maybe it's too late for me; I am not the generation that the London Olympics is trying to inspire after all. It's the kids facing an obesity time-bomb - experts love alarmist rhetoric like this, don't they? - who the athletes want to pass their fitness flame on to. And my portly, breathless lethargy is an obstacle to that baton pass; a hurdle, a tubby, crumb-speckled potato on a sofa, there to slow up the steeplechase of an active life. Because if it doesn't start at home, it's more difficult to instil in school. And so I found myself in the garden, the evening sun setting behind the row of houses that overlook us, as I played badminton with my daughter, huffing and puffing and laughing and thinking, 'I'm missing the Olympics' and realising that was the whole point.
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