So. You may not be aware of it, but right now there’s this thing called the Olympics going on. And basically – it’s amazing.
I have become a woman obsessed. I can’t stop watching it! I don’t think the fact that the first week coincided with my week off work helped. I would get up in the morning, potter into the living room bowl-of-cereal in hand, plump myself on to the sofa with the BBC on… and there I would stay. For hours! Watching people I’ve never heard of from countries I’ve never heard of play sports I’ve never heard of. And loving it!
Now I’m back in the real world, I am glued to @teamGB ‘s Twitter updates, and the TV goes on as soon as I get in. I realised yesterday that the only channels I have watched in the past twelve days are BBC 1 and BBC 3. Apparently there’s this magical purple place called E4 that I used to love. Or was that all just a dream…?
I was genuinely gutted I couldn’t watch the Brownlee brothers take two medals in the Triathlon yesterday, and welled up a bit watching the GB showjumpers get their golds. I didn’t even know who they were two weeks ago! Surely I should feel like more of a fraud?
One of the BBC reporters was broadcasting from Hyde Park last week (I forget which day, they have all blurred into a beautiful Stella-McCartney-wearing blur) and with a sweeping shot of the smiling flag-waving crowd proclaimed, “This is what Seb Coe’s dreams have looked like for the past seven years.” And he’s probably right. There was a lot of good old British grumbling in the lead up to this glorious two weeks… But look at us now! We can’t get enough of it. We love Team GB. In a way, with this juggernaut of combined enthusiasm, we all are Team GB.
I don’t know what we as a nation are going to do when it all ends. I know, I know, it’s the Paralympics next… but after that, what are we going to talk about? What are we going to watch? Who am I going to pretend I am when I’m in the gym? (Currently a cross between Vicky Pendleton and Jess Ennis, as I am small (Ennis) but swishy of hair (Vicky P)). Most importantly… how is it going to change things?
I asked my similarly-Olympo-mad boyfriend last night whether he reckoned “the Olympics would change PE”. I hated PE in school. Okay, I was a chubbyish (*ahem* “cuddly”) child – but I love the gym now, and keeping fit, so I obviously had that germ of enthusiasm in me somewhere. But never managed to discover it shivering on a netball court in the drizzle, or puffing around with a hockey stick, never entirely sure what I was supposed to be doing.
I know I’m not entirely blameless. But lots of reports have been done into the lack of young female participation in sport. And I don’t think it’s entirely down to the fact that we don’t want our hair to get messed up, or boys to see us with a bit of a sweat on and an Elizabeth-Bennett-esque sheen.
Maybe we needed to be shown that sport was cool. Not that you’re cool if you’re good at sport (Sarah Segelman, endless-legged sporty goddess of my secondary school, I’m looking at you) – but that doing sport was in itself worthwhile.
I really, really hope that these games do just that. The athletes’ individual stories are just blowing my mind. Their absolute, single-minded dedication is incredible – they’ve worked every single day, all day, for four years, for this moment. They’ve given things up, they’ve put things on hold, they’ve committed everything to pursuing this one moment of glory. And – remember – they all started somewhere. So maybe you could too.
Most importantly, to me anyway, they’re real people. Look at Sophie Hoskins’ face. You can’t fake that kind of emotion.
Yes, I know other celebrities are real people too… but with that glossy, Hollywood-y, manufactured sheen to them. You don’t see them beaming, or crying, or climbing up the Wimbledon stands to hug their mums. There’s no honesty there. You may admire them, but you don’t care. I’ve blubbed over showjumpers this week for goodness’ sake. Because I felt what they’d been through. These are the people we should be talking about, writing about, listening to. These are role models!
Talking of which, also announced this week: the cast of The Valleys, MTV’s latest “reality” show.
Kids, teens, future generations – in fact, everyone. Don’t listen to these people. Don’t watch these people. Don’t want to be like these people. Don’t even get me started.
Believe it. Thank you, London 2012, and long may you reign!