London 2012 has been the best Olympics ever and to have had the opportunity to have gone not once but twice was outstanding. The Olympic park is unbelievable in its sheer size and awesome architecture, the stadia are new, exciting and so inviting; but what completely overwhelmed me was the volunteers. From arriving at Heathrow, all across London, and even in the tube station in the centre of London, Games makers dressed in pink, were available to direct, point, chat in every language under the sun, take pictures and have pictures taken. Everywhere you looked there was someone there to help you. No way was anyone going to miss these Games through getting lost!
When we arrived there, the Olympic rings beckoned, and loads of photos were taken outside of “The Pringle”. I have to say it does resemble a large crisp, but The Aquatics centre is the best swimming pool I have ever seen in my life! Once again the “pink people” directed us to our seats and as the swimmers warmed up the stands started to fill. There were flags, posters of support and thousands of people from all across the world flooded in to see the greatest swimmers in the world. I had goose bumps, and to make this experience even better one of Britain’s most successful swimmers Mark Foster (yes Mark Foster!) passes me; well I had to get a picture!
The swimming started and wow, the atmosphere was electric; British competitor or not the crowd went wild. But when the greatest Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps, steps up that’s when you know you’re part of history. The audience stamped until I thought the floor would collapse, screamed until we simply couldn’t hear ourselves screaming. We Will Rock You played over the tannoy and final of the 200 Individual Medley greatest show on earth began. Phelps vs. Lochte. And what a battle it was. Phelps led for the first length but only slightly, it was very close right up to the last turn, and that’s when the crowd went ballistic. Phelps turned on the magic and took Lochte. It was truly an inspirational sight and one I will remember forever. Michael Phelps deserves every accolade bestowed on him.
As well as seeing one of the greatest races of all time, I had the chance to see Lochte race to a bronze medal. After watching the heats and semi-finals on TV it looked like it was Lochte that would take gold. However the amazing performances from Ryosuke Irie and Tyler Clary stopped him straight in his tracks. It was a great race with Stars and Stripes Flags flying all over the pool – like the 4th of July, the American support going crazy for both men.
That is what sport is all about. It’s the person who performs on the day that receives the reward. Some people believe it’s unfair but that’s what splits up the good athletes from the amazing ones. The athletes that can turn it on when it really matters. This is what I will remember from those two amazing visits to the London 2012 Olympic Games. The performances that made you believe in miracles – the athletes who can come back from being fifth or sixth in a race to take Gold and the difference that encouragement and support from an unbelievably enthusiastic audience can make. These things can truly inspire a generation. But I’ll also remember the “pink people” - ordinary everyday folk of all ages who volunteered and made everyone smile.
Another truly inspiring performance.