Sport

Sports Personality of the Year 2012, the Gold Rush and the Olympic Legacy

Can I do it? Yes I can!

Since my last post about running, I have successfully managed to run 10K  and help our school team of runners raise £758 (and counting) for Teenage Cancer Trust! Little did I think 3 months ago that I would be able to do it and yet there I was, jubilant that I had achieved the (personal) impossible dream!

 

Watching Sports Personality of the Year (#SP12), it came as no surprise to see that no less that 8 Olympians and 3 Paralympians were nominated for the award, creating a difficult dilemma for the voting British public.

The programme allowed me opportunity to reflect on a summer of unity and patriotism.

 

The London Olympic Games 2012

 Reminiscing about watching the Opening Ceremony on a big screen in GreenwichPark, I and many others had been sceptical that our ceremony would not better that of Bejing four years ago. However, to my surprise, Danny Boyle did not even attempt to better the CGI effects and precision dancing of China. Instead, rather fittingly, he gave a show of tongue-in-cheek, slap-stick, British humour…Bravo!

Naturally, one of the main talking points was that of saving our NHS; comments were made, people sniggered to themselves and a sense of unity appeared to sweep the country.

And so the games had begun!

I was optimistic enough to hope that Mark Cavendish might win the Men’s Road Race…Team GB’s first chance of a medal. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be but, on a personal note, I enjoyed the camaraderie and banter standing on Hyde Park Corner that would be ever present throughout the duration of the Games.

It was during this time that we chatted to a couple of fellow ‘Northerners’ who very kindly offered us spare tickets for the Sunday morning Hockey matches. Without any hesitation, we said ‘YES, of course’. However, it did make me feel for the thousands who were unsuccessful in obtaining ANY tickets to ANYTHING. Perhaps, a bit of luck was the only way (especially for those outside the M25).

After an early start on that first sunny Sunday morning, the hockey commenced and I was overwhelmed by the sense of occasion. I found myself surrounded by Aussie and New Zealand fans for the first match and Belgian and Netherlands fans for the second. This excitement was only added to when I found out that one of the men who gave us the tickets was himself a past Olympian and won Bronze in the Men’s Hockey GB team of 1984 in LA! With tickets to women’s basketball, women’s football, beach volleyball, sitting volleyball, Paralympics athletics finals and a couple of marathons too, I truly was a very lucky girl.

Walking around the Olympic Park itself was enough to make me beam from ear to ear all day long. Even when not in the Olympic Park, I found myself glued to TV screens in various locations including home in Bingley, Sheffield, Bradford’s City Park, Hyde Park and Victoria Park (for BT London Live). What’s more, the BT London Live events were FREE and included a whole host of live music including Blur, New Order, Scouting for Girls and my personal favourite, Newton Faulkner. People were waving Union flags, clapping and cheering, willing Team GB on (or indeed whichever country they were supporting).

People were really embracing the buzz, excitement and anticipation that seemed to be present. Entire nations were united in spirit and hope…all had Olympic Fever.

THE WORLD TRULY HAD COME TO LONDON…

All in all, I feel honored to have witnessed a thoroughly fantastic XXX Olympiad and the Paralympic Games and feel privileged to have been part of it. The much-hyped talk of Olympic legacy included that of children across Great Britain taking the spirit of the games into their own lives. There was much discussion about the sense of fair play, team spirit, the need to try their best and aspire to be as dedicated as the athletes themselves.

 

But…

Although 4 weeks of Olympic and Paralympic sporting heroism and achievement seemed to unite an entire nation, I can not help but feel a little disheartened that the proposed Olympic legacy has not been followed up as well as initially imagined. Take for example, the Premier League and the continued diving and foul play or the revelation that Lance Armstrong did in fact cheat his way to multiple victories. Is this really setting an example to school children nationwide and demonstrating ‘Olympic values’? We need to ask ourselves:

* What is the Olympic legacy supposed to be?

* How are we supposed to deliver and encourage it?

* What will the children of today aspire to be in the future when after all they ARE the future?

Mr Cameron suggested making 2 hours of PE a day a compulsory part of the school curriculum, how are we to deliver this? ‘Create more Olympians of the future’, he said. However, I don’t know many schools that have rowing and equestrian facilities to deliver this.

Surely then it is more about encouragement, nurture and celebration of the dreams and aspirations of young people. We need to instill values such as determination and hard work, teamwork, never giving up even when the chips are down, and being gracious in defeat.

Such determination in the face of adversity was demonstrated tonight as Paralympian and London 7/7 bombings survivor, Martine Wright won the Helen Rollason award at the Excel arena where many Olympic and Paralympic events had taken place in the summer.

Her story is inspirational and the way her life has changed over the last 7 years is incredible. The scenes she witnessed on that fateful day in 2005 were horrific and yet, ironically, the day after the announcement that London was successful in the bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games. Even in the face of adversity, she picked herself up from that life-changing experience and trained to participate in the sitting volleyball competition at the Excel Arena in the London Olympic Games 2012.

And so as Bradley Wiggins is the Sports Personality of the Year in this exceptional year for British sport, 2012, I urge us all to think of what Martine Wright said,

 

 “Let’s build on this legacy. Go ahead and inspire a nation.”

 

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