The Olympic Spirit With a Whiff of Ranting

This Olympic games has caught my imagination. It’s in my backyard which makes a difference. For those living here its been like a party. Seen from here it has made the country feel like a community: the world a community. Ok reports of stabbings, swindlings, violence, cheating and atrocities still filter into the news but all around you see sunny smiling faces and decent people sharing out the joy.

I live near London at the site where two of the road cycling events took place. I stood there with the crowds and watched them whizzing by. I got photographs of most of them. One of my newest proudest possessions is a photograph of Bradley Wiggins shooting by on his way to collect an Olympic gold medal. He couldn’t stop to chat, give the nature of the event, but it felt almost like meeting him.

Now someway past my athletic best I reserve my physical energies for ranting and frothing at the television, while waving my arms around and explaining how I would put the country, indeed the world, to rights if given a millisecond of control. That may not happen but all is not bleak. Apart from the joy and enthusiasm of the visitors and people at the stadiums, or stadia if I want to indulge my appetite for pedantry, I have been continually struck by the demeanor of the athletes.

One after another these medal success stories have come up to the microphone and given an interview. The modesty, determination and often sense of surprise at the enthusiasm of the public is humbling to watch. There is almost an air of wonder about them. Unlike preening celebrities who often seem to think they are doing the public a favour by showing up and “just being one of us” for a few minutes before whizzing off in some fantasy chariot, these hard-working Olympians have continually surprised and pleased me with their demeanour. Before you start your  own well deserved ranting and frothing at me I am sure there are many celebrities who are decent men and who lay off the preening. But, pound for pound, I am sure I would rather fill my living room with the athletes.

Michael Phelps, the most medalled of all Olympians, has been a delightful blend of discipline and modesty. With these athletes you often witness the maximum achievement with the minimum of marketing. With celebrities, and some others ,things can be  the opposite.  What these athletes seem to desire ,primarily, is achieve something and the attention gained is an amazing by-product that fills them with surprise and a hint of bewildermint. Most are essentially private individuals.  It is such a relief and contrast from the world of people doing almost anything just to get attention. It reminds me of when I saw a programme about military heroes and they explained the most extraordinary bravery as “just doing their jobs” before returning to anonymity

Soon it will be over. Men getting the better of the other man , violence and economic disaster will overtake the news. These outstanding individuals will return into their training schedule .  Seeing crowds of people caught up in a communal excitement and sharing it on television will be replaced by the often grime realities of daily life and the insane and bafflingly shallow antics of those “celebrities” used to distract us from the  harsher edges  of our existence.

We will return to that man-made environment, which seems increasingly like Pompeii just before the eruption, but for a few days, in this part of the world at least, I caught a  glimpse of what the world could be, or once was, and what a real hero looks like in the flesh. What a nation looks like when lite by a common joy. I pray I can keep that memory alive as these events fade from the news.

About Peter Wells aka Countingducks

Trying to remember what my future is
This entry was posted in character, community, creative writing, Environment, humour, Life, soldiers and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to The Olympic Spirit With a Whiff of Ranting

  1. Abby says:

    Lovely post, my friend, and I couldn’t have said it better myself. Oddly enough I found I wasn’t quite as interested in the Olympics this year as I usually am, save for the swimming (as usual.) Part of it is the infiltration of media and hype, which for the most part, is through no fault of the athletes. We are fed what they want us to see, the stories that they think will sell, but when just given the coverage and the stories behind these incredible athletes, it’s the best reality TV around. (Sports are basically the only reality TV I care to watch.)

    Their dedication and pure joy upon besting themselves is unadulterated and raw, and I wish “professional” athletes would take a few notes.


    • The amusing thing is that I replied to your comment via Dashboard, but it so happened that Barbara was posting a comment at the same time so WordPress cleverly affixed my reply to her comment and ignored your comment. Tis is very rude of WordPress so I am writing to make amends


  2. babs50nfab says:

    Sadly I’ve missed 99% of the olympics this go ’round. Life just got in the way. I love gymnastics and diving but never saw any of it. I’m glad you got to see it up close. And this wasn’t much of a rant Peter… you can do better at ranting. 😉 I do think events like these bring out the best in us and pray some day we can keep that communal spirit.


    • You comment made me laugh out loud.”You can do better at ranting” sounds like a school report I used to get. There was one aspect of the closing ceremony I wanted to froth and rant about but I think I must guard against over indulgence. Alwaysl ove your comments Barbara


  3. I think what made the event for me is that it was in my town so it felt a lot more inclusive and involving. Actually being a spectator, and talking with other spectators made it seem much more like a party. I’ll never forget it


  4. **We will return to that man-made environment, which seems increasingly like Pompeii just before the eruption**

    Love love love your insight into the universe. And how true the statement is above… but for a few weeks it was beautiful, wasn’t it? All of the countries together playing together, peaceful together, laughing together….

    A bit like Woodstock w/ out the hashish and nakedness!

    I will be in London next April. Perhaps we will bump into one another, Ducky…or perhaps you will be going to the same wedding as I !

    Kisses from MN.


  5. I agree that, as rants go, this was rather tame. As it should be–there is enough vitriol in the world already and you spoke to so well in your essay.


  6. backonmyown says:

    Wonderful post. Your excitement over being there in the action is contagious. You describe it well with your unabashed admiration for those humble heroes.


    • They had so many of the qualities I admire. The determination and discipline, seldom witnessed in me when I’m near a cake, but also the modesty and good manners. The lack of preening.You know the things . You would feel the same I’m sure


  7. Al says:

    A typically acute observation that is dead on, Ducks.You’ve sliced it up so it is ever more obvious the difference in the real people and the majority of celebs.

    England put on a splendid show from start to finish and had no small part in the good feeling you describe, albeit only until the next dastardly terrorist attack, wherever and whenever that may be.

    I was disappointed in our part though. I thought our announcers and sportscasters (NBC) acted like we were tuning in to hear and see them rather than the athletes. You were probably fortunate enough to watch via BBC over there and thus were not subjected to the hubris as we were.

    Great post and a fitting summary of 2 weeks of wonderful entertainment. And kudos to the Brits who surprised everyone with spectacular medal showing.


    • Interesting point about the NBC reporters. To be fair the BBC reporters were probably a bit the same, but in the main, it was the ordinary people and the volunteers, plus the bearing of the althletes which set the tone. Thtas the apsect I really loved.


  8. You guys have done an amazing job with the Olympics this time round!
    I can so relate …when we held the 2000 Olympics in Sydney – it was like the whole world was sining ‘one love’ for the entirety. The best of us on display, a sense of unrivalled community and a melting pot of inspiration.


    • I know just what you mean Kirri. I wonder how much of that spirit, if any, remains from the Sydney games. I would be interested to know. In London it was as though the whole city had become a sort of family. How long that will last I don’t know either. Already there is a sense of ” real life” re-aserting itself, but for a time I got a sense of another way, and it was beautiful


  9. Writerlious says:

    Wow, this is so cool. I wish I could be there!! That’s amazing that you got to watch the bikers going by. Being right there in the mix must be pretty magical. It’s nice to get a glimpse of the potential we have as people sometimes, and as a world community.

    Thanks so much for sharing –I’ve yet to hear from a Londoner about the Games. 🙂


  10. I think we’ve done a great job!


  11. eof737 says:

    I enjoyed what I watched as I was selective with the Olympics… it was a ton of fun! 🙂


  12. nelle says:

    Well said, and I agree.


  13. Ina says:

    I like this posting, and I think the Olympics was a real good event this time 🙂 perhaps because it was just a time zone away from my country, so I didn’t have to watch in the mddle of the night. I enjoyed it and also reading your blog here.


  14. Lucky you! I wish I could have been there, but I watched a lot of the games on the internet and on the television. Still doesn’t compare to the actual feeling of being there! Great blog post! Loved reading it.


  15. WordsFallFromMyEyes says:

    I didn’t know Michael Phelps was the most medalled of all Olympians. Like, wow – that’s enormous.

    I didn’t get into the Olympics this year at all, and only saw what happened to be on a screen when I entered any given room here or there. As soon as I saw you HAVE to walk through Westfield to enter the Olympics & McDonalds wouldn’t let other restaurants sell chips, it just went sour for me. Nope. Zero interest, thanks to all of that.


  16. eof737 says:

    Your title got me a bit worried but your post is an ode to the good that came out of the Olympics… 🙂 I enjoyed what I could see and, like you, I wish we could maintain that community spirit… but Alas!


  17. renxkyoko says:

    I wish we returned to London after our Euro trip. We have cousins who live in manchester. We could have stayed with them, but I guess having us as guests would be too much of a hassle. But then they actually invited us to stay so we could experience the Olympics. I hope it comes to California in the near future.


  18. Being in the US, the Olympics was very filtered here, and I feel we missed some of the best moments. But the UK and London did a great job. Anything that brings the world together and celebrates dedication and perservence and the idea that trying is as great a thing as winning is well worth the time and attention.


  19. Lady E says:

    Do you know what CD, this Summer was the first time in three years that I actually regretted no longer living in the UK. I hardly ever watch sports, and my interest in it is somewhat limited, but I’d have loved to go to an Olympic event, to be there for the party…
    Glad to hear you enjoyed it, and isn’t it refreshing to find modest celebrities in the shape of athletes ? 🙂


    • Yes, I think I’m rather like you on the sports front but the Olympics turned out not to be just about the sport but also about the community and the party spirit. The atmosphere in the crowd when the cyclists went past was fantastic. Happy days


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