21st August 2012
Not much surprises me about myself these days, but for once I'm shocked. I never thought I'd be interested in the Olympics, let alone confessing to missing them.
I'm not really a sports fan so I thought having the games in London would mean a massive cost to the nation when we can ill afford it. The sort of event that would be great if you were one of the lucky ones who secured a ticket to see a sport played live, but not very interesting when translated to TV.
How wrong I was! My interest was ignited last year on a shopping trip to Stratford. I told my other half that I didn't mind where I stayed, as long as I could shop. Unlike me, he was very keen on the Olympics from the start, so he decided to kill two birds with one stone.
We stayed in a hotel on top of the new Westfield shopping centre, which also overlooks the athletes' village. I enjoyed a guided tour around theEast Endwhich taught me about the history of the Olympics and the regeneration of the area, and also gave me a view of the Olympic Park.
I then forgot about it again for a few months until the hype surrounding the Olympic torch began. When it passed close to our office, there was a mass exodus so the staff could view it (don't tell Tim, he was on leave!). On paper, I'm not sure what's interesting about the torch, but to see the smile of pride on the face of the bearer as he or she passed by warmed everyone's hearts. I was pleased local schools shut early so that my children had the once in a lifetime chance to see the Olympic torch up close too.
We were holidaying in Cornwall when the opening ceremony took place and I'll never forget the five of us squashed in the lounge of a mobile home, glued to the telly. I thought it was great - weird in places, but a fantastic showcase.
Back at home, we had various sports on in the background whenever we were in. I'm not normally a fan of TV, certainly not during the day, but I was captivated by the gymnastics for an entire afternoon. I even found myself watching the highlight show every night and I can't usually be bothered to watch those sorts of programmes.
Team GB did fantastically well and I could feel the winner's emotion whenever they scooped a medal. I found myself enjoying sports such as sailing, Tai Kwando, boxing and the triathlon - none of which I'd had time for in the past.
I hope the legacy of the Olympics lives on. My youngsters have announced they want to swim, run, box and do gymnastics in the Olympics when they grow up (probably all at the same time!). Just because the flame went out, I hope it's done enough to fire up the next generation to be the best they can be - in the Olympics or elsewhere.