Day 211 of 366: Blog Challenge 2012

Hello all

I finished watching my recording of the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony this afternoon. Yes, it was a bit late but still, better late than never.

To be honest, I do not imbibe the spirit of the Olympic Games until I have watched the Opening Ceremony. Is any one else out there like this? It seems to put me into the right frame of mind to follow the progress of the Games. Excitement builds and I feel ready …

Confetti rains down as the British Team enters the Stadium

But today as I watched Great Britain entering the Stadium last  (as is the custom for the home team) I was surprised by the emotion I felt. When the confetti rained down on the athletes from a helicopter above and the cheer went up, I felt all warm and fuzzy.

It reminded me of when our own athletes came into the Sydney Stadium in 2000 and as they did so, the crowd erupted and at that moment, I felt so proud to be an Australian.

So, as Great Britain entered the arena, I think I felt proud to have a connection via my  English father who came from Hackney, the very place where the Olympic Stadium now stands. My father who talked of the Hackney marshes where he roamed as a boy, would never have dreamed the Olympic Games would be held on his home turf.

Oh Dad, you would have loved it!

Now, have you ever noticed when athletes are being interviewed they often say “As a child, I would dream of COMPETING in an Olympic Games.” Well, I never once thought like that!  That’s far too hard. However, as a 10-year-old, when the 1956 Olympic Games were held in Melbourne, Australia, I remember thinking: “Oh how I would love to ATTEND an Olympic Games!”

And so my love of the Olympic Games was born. Every day us kids would be gathered around our radio in the Lounge Room, listening to the swimming, hurdles, sprints or whatever else was going on at the time. We listened at every opportunity; we screamed and yelled and helped those Aussie athletes to victory!

But I did feel so very envious of my neighbours who had the money to actually attend the Games in Melbourne. I used to think what good fortune that had and to rub salt into the wound they watched some events on TV in their Hotel room as TV was introduced into Australia especially for the Olympic Games.

What I didn’t realise at that time was, my dream would come true eventually … when the Olympics came to Sydney in 2000. Nothing was going to stop me from attending those Games! Okay so I was now in my fifties, but once again, it was better late than never.

Our Tour Guide in Olympia enthralls us with tales of the ancient Games

And yes, the Olympic Games in Sydney were everything (and more) than I had dreamt they would be … but there’s more! I was enamored by the story of the ancient Olympics and always wondered what that ancient place  in Greece would be like to visit.

Never did I think in the year 2000 that I would ever see the ancient site of the Olympic Games. But in 2008, this dream too came true when Geoff and I sailed into the port of Katakolon, the gateway to Olympia and toured the site of those ancient Games.

Geoff and I stood amongst the ruins pinching ourselves that we were really in this place where the ruins of Olympia remained. It was surreal but as our Greek Tour Guide told us the stories of the Games we were taken back in time to another world. And we were reeled in, hook line and sinker!

A colourful Mexico comes into the Stadium

Today as I watched that Opening Ceremony, with its typical British irreverence, I thought about how far the Olympic Movement has come. I looked at all the different, colourful and diverse costumes worn by the many countries participating and I thought about the influence the Games have had on the people of the world as a whole, despite our cultural differences.

And I got to thinking: we can try to make the people of the world get along by signing treaties and holding meetings, but it is amazing how the influence of competitive sport, held in a spirit of goodwill,  has done more to unify the people of the world than most anything else.

By bringing the nations of the world together in this way, we build up wonderful relationships with one another and we do not see our differences as much as our similarities. And we are accepting of one another. And then we love and applaud our cultural differences too.

Now folks in the spirit of goodwill … LET THE GAMES BEGIN …