While this might be my first blog post on the Olympics, rest assured that I’ve been absolutely glued to the screen. I’m completely swept up in Olympics fever and I’m not ashamed to admit it! I spend most of the day balancing my work schedule around hopping between the Olympics channels in a way that maximises my viewing. Every night before bed, I sit down with my Olympics app and schedule reminders for every event I’m planning on watching for the next day.
Whilst I’m very much enjoying watching it from my sofa, I can’t help wishing I could get involved a little more. My dad has been volunteering, and has endless stories about what’s going on at the park, how close he’s been sitting to David Cameron, and all the intricate rules of handball. So it was determination that my friend India and I made plans to find a live site in Surrey and watch the cycling time trials in easy reach of both the road and a big screen.
We headed to the village green at Esher, armed with wellies and macs and Waitrose picnics. Yes, that sentence was pure middle class porn. We got there quite early, desperate to stake our place at the front of the barriers. We were in luck – we arrived just in enough time to secure a perfect place, right next to the road and still with a great view of the screen.
The atmosphere was incredible. The green soon filled up; people waved flags and homemade banners, popped champagne corks, set up folding chairs. We struck up a conversation with some friendly Aussies (I’ve never actually met an unfriendly Aussie, I have to say…) We all cheered as the British women earned us our first gold medal, and then we got in place to watch the cyclists.
Unlike the road cycling at the weekend, the time trials meant that we saw a single rider every couple of minutes, instead of watching the whole pack go by in a matter of seconds. Every rider got a big cheer, but obviously Pooley, Armitstead, Froome and Wiggins sent the crowd into paroxysms of applause. After we’d seen the last of the riders, we settled down to see the race finish on the big screen.
I loved every second of it. The tension in the crowd, the enthusiastic cheering, the gasps of horror as the signal went on the TV, the flag-waving, the fake sideburns in honour of Wiggo, the boos that echoed round the crowd when some lunatic switched Jamie Oliver on instead…It made me proud to be British.
Roughly a year ago, I sat up most of the night, watching on TV and refreshing Twitter as the riots tore through our beautiful capital. I’d never felt so ashamed of the young people in this country, or so certain that this was it – Britain was tearing itself apart, and I wasn’t sure if we could even hope to recover. Now, in 2012, I’m unbelievably proud of this country. Rising up to stand for the national anthem in a group of people who were singing along, as Wiggins was presented with his gold, made me feel certain that things were more than alright. They were good. Once again, I’m proud to call England my home, and the Olympics is hugely to thank for that.