With the opening ceremony last night, the 2016 Olympic games are finally upon us. To say I’m excited about watching the world’s best athletes compete over the next few weeks would be an understatement. The discipline, dedication, passion and patriotism are incredibly inspiring to watch. I’m particuarly looking forward to the triathlon, but I’ve also been glued to the swimming and men’s road race today.
My excitement at the games in Rio is quite a contrast to the way I felt four years ago. I’m quite ashamed to say I didn’t embrace the Olympics at all in 2012. The whole summer of sport passed me by as I never really caught Olympic fever. The games will never be held in London again in my lifetime and in hindsight I deeply regret my lack of enthusiasm.
Sport was just not a part of my life in 2012. I didn’t consider myself a fan and hadn’t grown up watching any sporting events. That summer I was training for my first 10k run and took part in some running groups themed around the 2012 games, but outside of this I had no interest in following running as a sport. I was vaguely aware that the route I’d be running at the Bupa 10k would follow part of the Olympic marathon course, but apart from this I never really connected with the spirit of the games.
Despite the Olympics dominating the media at that time, I never really gave it much attention. I caught some of the TV coverage but for the most part I remained indifferent. London was buzzing with excitement- friends and work colleagues had secured tickets to some of the competitions, but I personally couldn’t relate to their enthusiasm.
I live around 10 miles from the Olympic Park and my commute to work used to take me through Stratford. I perceived the games as an inconvenience which would effect my life in terms of the impact on public transport. I considered booking the fortnight off work to completely escape the chaos it would bring to London. In fact, my negative viewpoint was wrong and I barely noticed any difference at the times of day I was travelling.
It wasn’t until 2013 that the games legacy started to have an impact on me. I took part in the Anniversary Run around the Olympic Park and finally started to feel the emotion and inspiration that I’d been lacking the previous year. I was in awe of the stadium and overwhelmed at the opportunity to run on the track where the athletes had competed previously.
My attitude has completely changed in recent years. I found my own way into sport and I’ve fallen in love with swimming, cycling and running. I regularly use the facilities at the former Olympic sites including the Aquatics centre, Velopark and White Water Centre at Lee Valley. I’m fortunate enough to have met five Olympic and Paralympic athletes (and held their gold medals)! I kick myself that all this was taking place on my doorstep just four short years ago and I was too narrow-minded to engage with it.
Despite the games taking place on the other side of the world this summer, I’ll be embracing the Olympic spirit like never before and leaving my bad attitude behind.