Was it just me or did anyone else get the feeling they’d been unceremoniously dumped by the Olympics? I mean, there we were having a great time together, laughing and drinking, cheering, crying, making new friends, last check-in before sleep, first check-in as soon as we woke…you know, the usual relationship things. And then BOOM — they just ran out on us. Left us at our highest for no reason other than ‘they were done’. Admittedly, it was a perfect whirlwind romance which could never turn sour, but still there’s no denying London was depressed in the aftermath of their departure. Empty parks, stages taken apart, big screens turned off…I mean, what were we going to talk about in the pub now? No Jessica Ennis, or Mo Farah….we were lost!
Step in the Paralympics! All was not lost-HURRAY!
Now for me, the London Olympic games held something else. Two and a half years ago, I moved to Canada. Booking my ticket, I didn’t realize that I was going to land in Ottawa 10 days before Canada was to host the Winter Olympics. Never before had I encountered such patriotism, unity, pride, excitement and such an over-whelming amount of love. Everywhere you looked there were multiple maple leafs. On signs, in windows, on
sweaters, gloves, hats, scarves, against buildings, on food…You name it, there was a leaf! Anywhere you could think to put one, there was one! The impression that I got from watching the Olympics was how surprised Canada, as a country was, that the 17 days of sports could unite people so powerfully. From unknown household names to huge sports heroes, the country cheered. Within two weeks of arriving in Canada, I was in love. The joy, excitement and positivity from everybody was beyond imaginable and contagious! Absolutely the best way to be introduced to a nation. How could I ever feel anything but to replicate their love as a nation?! This adoration only grew stronger the longer I stayed, so when the dreaded day of my visa expiry dawned, it was certainly with an extremely heavy heart that I left Canada to return ‘home’ to London.
Again…innocently booking my ticket, it wasn’t until not long before my flight that I realized that once again, I would be landing 10 days before we were to host the London 2012 Olympics. Having not been here for any of the run up to the games, I wasn’t familiar with the ‘big names’ or what we were expected to do well in etc.
In these 10 days the atmosphere in London gradually changed. More and more people could be heard moaning about how awful the public transit would be, too many people, too much rain, failing opening ceremonies, safety issues, terrorism…the list was endless. That’s was until the day of the Olympics. And once it started, the euphoria just kept on growing. More and more flags appeared, people were making friends–Londoners were even initiating impromptu friendly conversations on the tube about the Olympics, and more GB clothes than ever before hit the high streets. We started off slow with the medals, but just like our buses…they all started arriving at the same time…late, but to chorus’ of cheers! British people are known for being rather reserved in our actions of pride, but all that was thrown out the window, and just as two years previously…I was thrown back in love with a nation I feared I’d lost! Scenes of thousands of frantically waving flags, painted faces, fully clothed Union Jack wearers, dancers, beaming athletes became more than familiar, even the sun came out for the occasion! I don’t think that anyone expected the outburst that occurred. Everyone was bursting with pride! Literally over a million people took to the streets the cheer the athletes as the games
concluded…the much spoken ‘legacy’ must contine!
I had wanted, NEEDED London to help me fall back in love with my country, my faith had to be restored. If the Olympics couldn’t do it, nothing could…and my God did Britain ever deliver!
So, the moral? ALWAYS arrive in a country just before they are to play host to the Olympics. Or even any huge sporting event, preferably one they’re meant to do well in. It really 100% truly makes even the biggest of cynics fall in love with the people and the country.