I sort of forgot that the Olympics were this year. I think after all the hype and build up of the 2012 games and continuing chatter about the Olympic legacy I hadn’t realized a whole 4 years had passed since London 2012. Even then when it did register, after the excitement of a home games I felt a bit ‘meh’ at the prospect of the Rio games. This time round there would be no cycling home past the beach volleyball stadium, no conversations about what events you were going to and no questioning what exactly were those Wenlock and Mandeville creatures…although that’s probably a good thing.
So it was fair to say I was at best indfifferent about the whole Olympic thing until ooh all of Day One. What is it about the Olympics that just sucks you in? Even the most unsporty of people become armchair coaches, judges and ever so proud mums. This time round it was the judo that sucked me in. I must just say that I’ve never, ever watched nor participated in a judo session/game/match(?) ever in my life before. Prior to Saturday if you asked me about a Yuki or Waza-ari I would have pointed you in the direction of the nearest Itsu. But then the good old BBC did one of their heartstring wrenching pieces on the bad boy of British Judo, Ashley Mackenzie.
His mum introduced him to judo in an attempt to help his ADHD and keep him on the straight and narrow after being kicked out of school following a fight about a Pokemon. Oh and there go the goosebumps. That’s when it got me. I’m officially hooked on Rio 2016.
The thing that I think that make the Olympics just so special are that they encompass such a wide variety of sports all in the one event. Even more than that though, it’s how much it means to the competitors, their teams and their families. As they say on the Xfactor, it’s all about the journey. I watched a documentary on Tom Daley recently and he said he thinks in four year cycles. Day after day they get up do the same exercises over and over again. Say no to social events, monitor what they eat, be away from loved ones for months at a time. The dedication to their sport has such a huge impact and pressure on every single aspect of their lives and that of their loved ones. And for what? There are only 3 medals up for grabs and an off day can shatter everything they’ve spent the last 4 years working for.
This is the first Olympics I’ve watched as a mum and it has altered my perspective. Firstly without the inconvenience of being in an office I can totally gorge on it. ‘Sorry Matilda, no trips to the swings today, mummy NEEDS to watch the women’s fencing qualifiers.’ But secondly I never really thought about the team behind the athlete before, yet this time around I am in awe at the selflessness of the parents of the athletes. Over the years they must have had to do endless 5am drop offs, sacrifice family holidays to buy kit and even move house or give up their own careers in the chance that their baby might, and it is always just a might, make it to the Olympic Games. They’ve been there to wipe away the tears at loss or injury and celebrate from the sidelines as they storm home to victory. So here’s to the mum’s and dad’s of the Olympians well done to you. And to us lot who are in the midst of babydom at the moment, who knows maybe there’s a future Olympic champion crawling around your nursery at the moment…