I wasn’t expecting much from this Olympics, I’ll be honest. It felt like there was no way Team GB could live up to their amazing performance at the home games in London, there was so much talk of drug cheats and athletes being banned, several athletes opting not go due to potential Zika/health problems, and on top of all that the concerns that Rio would be able to pull it all off without a hitch anyway.
However, almost all of that was unfounded concern and although there have been a few downsides to hosting the Games in Rio, it has still been a lot of fun. Granted, the timezone has slightly been my downfall, as the best stuff has been happening between midnight and 4am, but I’ve done my best, and here are five things I’ve really enjoyed.
- Learning the Omnium points race. This was indicative of so many other things in the Olympics – at first baffling but give it some time and it really pays off. I was enjoying the track cycling already, and then they introduced the Omnium. Aside from a fabulous name, it also has the points race which is a lengthy and complicated event but one that really makes a difference to the standings. It reminds me of F1 in a way, you could sit in front of it and throw your hands up in the air, saying none of this makes sense, but actually if you watch and listen and just work it through in your head, it really starts to be brilliant! Cycling is one event that I was really sad to see finish, but it provided some wonderful and dramatic moments.
- The true Olympian spirit. You’ve seen the images, the North and South Korean gymnasts taking a selfie and the two 5000m athletes who helped each other across the finish line after a fall. There are also the less obvious but still important moments, like divers who have completely messed up still coming back to complete their routines, and gymnasts supporting each other even though they are individual event rivals. It’s all so inspirational, it really lifts the spirit.
- Some fantastic commentators. The BBC has some hit and miss presenters on their lineup but I have really enjoyed some of the commentary teams. Swimming, diving and cycling particularly stand out for their entertaining and knowledgeable commentary teams, whilst I found the rowing duo talked over each other constantly. It’s lovely to see ex-athletes brimming with passion about their sport, and even getting current stars on board, like Jo Rowsell-Shand who talked with great eloquence about her cycling teammates.
- Learning new geography. The Opening Ceremony is a key part of this. Dig out the iPad and peruse Google Maps constantly. I love seeing the tiny islands that are taking part, and it’s great to locate places you’ve sort of heard of but have never really looked up before. It happens during the event too but less often, because it’s normally the bigger nations that get to the top.
- Seeing what a dash of inspiration can do. The stories I enjoyed the most were those were athletes taking part in this Olympics were inspired by previous stars of the show. Current gymnasts who watched Beth Tweddle and thought “I can do that”. The current crop of cyclists who were all helped out by Chris Hoy in one way or another. People who only turned to their sport after seeing what happened in London and racing straight to the top. How proud the athletes must be, to know they have inspired others to glory, and how brilliant our next generation will be having seen the determination and talent on display this year!
It’s been a brilliant couple of weeks and I’m sad it’s over, but just like London, so glad it happened. I can’t believe it will be another four years before we get to do this again, but I have a feeling it will just fly by. To end, here are a bonus five things that didn’t quite make the list.
- Anyone on the podium, wondering what the little plastic sculptures they were given were for.
- Everyone saying “I don’t want to cry on camera,” before promptly bursting into tears.
- Predicting the newspapers and their hideous headlines, particularly those cutting athletes out pictures to suit themselves.
- Debating our own Sports Personality of the Year.
- Enjoying a new event every day to add to the shambles – raining INSIDE the Olympic village, pool water turning green, putting the velodrome in the wrong way round, the outdoor cycling track being so hard only half the field competed, a bus taking Fran Hansall to the wrong place so she almost missed her event. Every day a new nugget.