Monday, September 10, 2012

Coming down from on high

It's over. We've had the sport, the closing ceremony and the athletes' parade. What am I going to do with myself?

The Olympics were stupendous; the Paralympics were stupendous and a revelation. What a summer, indeed what a year, starting with the Queen's Jubilee. The crowds have been out in force since the Spring, culminating in the huge numbers that lined the route of the parade despite it taking place on a Monday afternoon. I couldn't be there of course, but I was following it on the live feeds of the Times and Telegraph online, plus the BBC.

It was truly inspiring to see the athletes of TeamGB (both) put in their best performance, and heartbreaking when something went wrong. The worst was seeing some of the bad calls made by the judges. I'm thinking in particular of Jody Cundy and the javelin thrower Nathan Stephens neither of whom did anything that had not been done before and got harshly disqualified for it. The downs of sport plunge very low.

What have I taken away from the summer's fun? Respect in droves, certainly. Respect for the stunning performances of our best athletes and also for all the Paralympians who show us how much can be achieved whoever you are.

Also more understanding of the relentless, grinding work that goes into making an elite athlete. It doesn't just happen, it's not achieved by being famous, and it definitely requires dedication, skill, guts, courage and good sponsorship. Our vapid famous for being famous celebrities show up very poorly when compared with our athletes who pour all their blood sweat and tears into being a success. Hopefully the new role models of our youth will be this year's Olympic and Paralympic winners rather than a loser from Big Brother.

My eldest son is going to try out sprint training this year. He's already the fastest in his class and I'm hoping he will enjoy taking his talent a bit further. This summer I came back from my mum's with all my certificates from regional school athletics meetings, and told him that he will be following in a family tradition. His grandfather was Victor Ludorum at his school, his father was very sporty and I was pretty sporty too.

He's got some good genes and it's great to make the best use of them!