Olympic Fever

Monday 26 July 2021

I am due in work at 10am today and am nearly late…because I am glued to the BBC’s Olympic breakfast. Olympic fever is well and truly starting to set in…

For Team GB, it is a fest of good fortune, on a day quickly dubbed as ‘Magic Monday’ by the commentators, with 3 gold medal performances and everyone one of them is a great story. Adam Peaty, a man who carried the weight of the world on his young shoulders, so great was the national expectation, swims to success in the 100m breast-stroke. His relief, his joy, his pride, in becoming the first British swimmer to defend an Olympic title are palpable. By contrast, for Tom Daley partnered by Matty Lee, this first Olympic gold for diving brings a fairy tale ending to a journey that began in 2008 in Beijing when Daley, as a 14 year old athlete was propelled onto the international stage and into the hearts of the nation. Their podium ceremony is incredibly emotional and I am just recovering with my second cuppa of the morning when onto my screens comes the amazing Tom Pidcock. In a jaw dropping performance on the mountain bike, he destroys the rest of the field to take gold. He is cool, controlled and completely assured … until the moment he crosses the line where once again the emotion and tears takes over.

I haven’t even made it our of the house yet and I am completely drained! This festival of sport just brings wave after wave of drama. In terms of the sport, where margins between triumph and heartbreak can be measured in brutal fractions of seconds, or tenths of points, it’s edge of the seat, occasionally, as in Taekwondo, watch behind a cushion, stuff. And with such a plethora of events, this can be relentless.

But, for me, what really distinguishes the Olympic Games from other sporting occasions is the engagement with so many personal stories. So many tales of commitment, so many hours of training, so much sacrifice, so much gratitude for coaches, for friend and for families. Pidcock has won gold weeks after breaking his collar bone. We’ve watched Daley try and try again to become an Olympic champion and the nation knows of the challenges he has faced in and out of the diving pool. In an astonishing interview with his girl friend, we learn that Peaty, the definition of dominance and confidence in the pool, lives a life where ‘every second’ is built around training and sheer hard work. Away from Team GB, the man who wins the roadrace wins Ecuador’s first gold medal for quarter of a century. Anna Kiesenhofer, an amateur rider with a mathematics masters from Cambridge, stuns the world to triumph in the women’s equivalent.

Just incredible.. if utterly exhausting and I am only a few days in! Can I make it through 2 more weeks of tears and cheers? I think I might just be too addicted to stop now…

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