“Mummy, which sport would you have done if you were in the Olympics a few years ago?”
My nine-year-old daughter Laura has much more faith in my athletic history than it deserves. At secondary school, the kindest comment on the PE section of my school report came from Miss Yardley: “Deborah needs to have more confidence in her ability”. That was before I discovered that careful manipulation of my school timetable would allow me to skip PE lessons entirely.
But then I remember one brief moment of glory when a timely growth spurt ensured that my legs were the optimum length for the hurdles. My stride was the perfect length to enable me to soar over them without knocking any down. Miss Yardley was as amazed as I was.
“Hurdles,” I tell Laura confidently. “Hurdles were wonderful. They made me feel like I could fly.”
“And what else?”
Stumped, I quickly think back to this term’s homework, which has been dominated by the whole school’s study of the Olympics.
“Pole-vault,” I decide. “Or high jump. Because I’d be airborne then too.”
I’m beginning to enjoy this pleasant fantasy.
“But what about the triple-jump?” she suggests brightly.
Laura is the Olympic expert in our house, able to reel off with ease the full list of sporting events and to name many record-breaking athletes too.
“Yes, triple-jump would do it too.”
She goes back to arranging her cuddly toys of London 2012 mascots, Mandeville and Wenlock, in her doll’s deckchair.
When these mascots first came out, I thought they were hideous. But on Friday I caved in and allowed her to buy them with her pocket money, the toyshop having just reduced them to half-price. She hugs them to her ecstatically on the way home in the car.
“I’m so glad I’ve got them!” she beams. “They’ll always be extra special now because I bought them on the day of the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony!”
I feel like a heel and a killjoy for not endorsing them earlier.
It’s not that I don’t love the Olympic movement. I’ve already bought the London 2012 Olympic Top Trumps (UK and International editions) and an official Olympics t-shirt to Laura to wear in our village’s 5k Fun Run (wonderfully led, I hasten to add, by the former GB Olympic runner Nick Rose). I even acquired a badge of the dubious 2012 logo for my collection of enamel pins.
I took Laura to see the Olympic torch relay the day before her birthday and organised her birthday party on an Olympic theme (Hawkesbury 2012 – please don’t sue me, LOCOG!) These Birthday Olympics, which thankfully coincided with a heatwave, included less than authentic sporting events such as the Carry A Cup Of Water On Your Head Race. The birthday tea consisted entirely of circular food to reflect the Olympic rings. Each child represented a country and was a flag carrier for that country in the opening ceremony (a route-march around the perimeter of our lawn).
To avoid squabbles over who would represent GB, I instructed Laura beforehand to choose the ten prettiest national flags, and these were the countries that we used. She’d only heard of two of those countries (and there was at least one that I hadn’t heard of, either), so it was a good geography lesson too.
Consequently, as we watch the London 2012 opening ceremony on television, Laura is looking out for her friends’ countries.
“Oh, there goes Molly…. that one was Lily’s country. Hello, Alexis!”
Wenlock and Mandeville are still lounging about our coffee table as we fill it with popcorn and cold drinks to fuel us through the whole ceremony. I wonder whether Laura will stay the course.
But to my surprise and satisfaction, we both enjoy it enormously, right to the bitter end (yes, I’m talking about you, Sir Paul). As the stadium finally begins to empty well after midnight, my face is still wet with the tears that flowed as the many touches of genius emerged: the 7 billion strips of paper dropped to represent every occupant of this earth; the striking up of Bowie’s “Heroes” as the British squad entered the arena; the appearance of Mohammed Ali to help carry the Olympic flag; the unexpected and perfect selection of young hopefuls to light that beautiful cauldron – to name but a few of the many, many highlights.
By next morning, in my eyes at least, the London 2012 logo has morphed into a thing of great beauty and I don my enamel badge with pride.
My other blog posts on the Olympic theme:
The Olympic Spirit Meets Britannia
9 thoughts on “Sharing the Olympic Glory – or How I Learned to Love the London 2012 Logo”
I too hated those mascots … until I got to Olympic Park on Sunday and then I actually queued to get my photo taken with a life-size statue version! The atmosphere in the park was terrific. I’ve always been in favour of the Olympics but now I’m quite fond of those mascots too…
My daughter loves those giant gold mascots that fans have handed to a few of the medal winners too!
I laughed when I read this post b/c I had a similar kind of ‘morphing’ of feelings during Vancouver’s 2010 games. At times, I was annoyed by the cost, the commercialism, the 18-24 months of advertising, etc. But once they hit, man, the city was transformed. I only went up for a few days, but I’d never seen Vancouver (where I spent my first 34 years) with such a celebratory atmosphere. The streets were filled all the time, people were in great spirits, and by the end I was a TOTAL convert. It really is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing, so glad you and your family are enjoying it!
Thank you, Laura! I think we have to make the most of these opportunities when they come along, and I’m so glad that I arranged my summer holidays around the dates of the Games, so that I would be able to see them (even if only on telly!) I shall be sad when the Games are over!
Very topiical post for me as my eleven year old son recently asked me if I have jumped the same course as the Olympic show jumping team! I hasten to add I jumped very little during the years I rode but it was both amusing and flattering to find my son believed I was capable of such giddy equestrian heights.
How lovely! I think it’s best to savour these moments of our children thinking we’re wonderful, all-powerful and capable of anything – before they turn into cynical teenagers!