I have to say I was one of the people who thought the Olympics would be a pain in the arse. As a Londoner I initially thought it might be ok, so I applied for tickets. As my mates and I worried about how we'd pay for the hundreds of tickets we'd asked for, it soon emerged that the Olympic tickets allocators had learned of our fears and decided that it would be best not to offer us any. At all! I was a bit deflated but it was going to be all busy and annoying anyway so who cares?
Then came the adverts about changing our travel plans as London would be super-busy with all these extra people around. Then there were more warnings about leaving more time for our travel as we were having visitors in our town. It reminded me of my mother when we had guests over. Everything was to be spick and span and we were all to behave. A month prior to the games we even had Boris booming over the tannoys in the tubes telling us how hectic it was all going to be.
That was it. When school broke up, we all jumped in the car and drove to France. It was from a pub in rural France that I watched the opening ceremony. A weird thing happened. London looked beautiful. I felt a little proud. I was impressed at our Queen for having a sense of humour and joining in the whole James Bond thing. The French weren't so impressed - they ditched their monarchy a while back - but I liked it. The opening ceremony was impressive, although I was watching David Cameron's face for any signs of guilt as the NHS was flagged as the amazing institution that it is. I didn't see any it must be said.
When the games started I felt my interest swell. We don't have a TV in France so we watched the odd event in the pub next door and as the kids excitement grew, so did mine. We carried on watching when we came home, getting all caught up in the excitement of Jessica Ennis, Tom Daley and Mo Farah. I think in pretty much every photo taken of my son this summer he's doing an Usain Bolt impression.
All the athletes were fantastic and inspirational. To work so hard and achieve their goal was amazing to feel part of. When they were interviewed they came across as such disciplined people and not only that - they all seemed nice. Decent and nice! It was such a refreshing change to the disappointment I feel when a footballer my son looks up to is in the papers for some misdemeanour. Sir Chris Hoy beat Sir Steve Redgrave's medal tally and there was a feeling of healthy optimism.
We also learned about sacrifice and pain through a variety of stories. Tom Daley lost his father before the Olympics and other Olympians talked of the loss of loved ones and how difficult it was for them to go on without the support of close family who had been through all the training with them. Victoria Pendleton talked of how problematic it was when she fell in love with one of her coaches, leading to him resigning from his position. There was love too! The whole summer Olympics felt a little like a feel-good film.
Little did I know that the last chapter was going to be the 'Triumph over adversity' section. By the time the closing ceremony took place, I was really excited about the Paralympics. It felt like I was waiting forever for it to start. The Opening Ceremony was phenomenal and it just got better. For the first time the Paralympic athletes enjoyed the same kind of platform as able-bodied ones and the whole of Britain seems to have grasped that. Who knew the Olympic Games were going to be the pre-cursor to the main event?
I have spent the whole of these Paralympic games marvelling at these extra-ordinary, brave, inspirational human beings. There are blind guys playing football, a British female relay-team with cerebral palsy and David Weir who was described as the "greatest Paralympian of all time". I have sobbed my heart out as I have watched swimmers without arms cut through the water and visually impaired runners cross the finishing-line.
These Olympics and Paralympics have been phenomenal and I've enjoyed them immensely. The lasting legacy is that they have taught my children that no matter what happens in life, anything is possible.
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