It’s nearly 6pm in Finland and in the living room of my girlfriend’s parent’s house is me, sitting on the sofa like a nervous wreck holding his breath for what seems like forever. This is the point where I recognise that I may have Olympic Fever. Five minutes later, Andy Murray finally slayed the nickname ‘Tim Henman Mk II’ given to him by critics (although I think I’m the only one to call him that) and won an Olympic gold medal at Wimbledon. It’s a big moment. The crowd at Centre Court erupt as if Andy Murray had won the Six Nations, World Snooker Championships and Eurovision all in one. It’s also the first time I truly miss being home.
It’s easy to forget that, whilst I’ve been away, my homeland has fanboyed/girled over the Olympics in the same way that Muse fans get excited when one of their newer songs is played on The One Show during a segment about potholes. It’s still enjoyable. I can still access Twitter and Facebook and generally chortle at all the timeline explosions when Team GB win something. I can still watch it on TV (albeit with commentary I don’t really understand). However, it’s just not the same. When you read incidents such as spontaneous cheering on public transport whenever we achieve something, reports of kind volunteers around the Olympic sites and Jeremy Paxman going screaming in girlish delight that Mo Farah won a gold medal. Ok, I made the last one up, but at this rate even he’s bound to get excited.
And to think I was sceptical beforehand. In truth, some of my complaints about some of the organisation/corporate nature of these Games still stand (you can read about it in this rather silly and maybe childish blog post from a few weeks back) and there are problems that will almost certainly need to be addressed once the Paralympics are finished. However, it’s also been easy to forget that, amidst all of this nonsense, sport is happening. When it’s at its best, the Olympics can be the most exhilarating spectacle; it’s like a festival of sport albeit without any mud or wasted teenagers on cider keeping you up at 2am. I have seen several sporting feats to make me smile such as Bradley Wiggin’s historic gold in the cycling time trial and Mo Farah hugging the official mascot in the same manner that an eight-year-old would hug Speccy, the official Guildford Spectrum dog.
So yes, I’m all in. As soon as I’m back home I’m going to book myself a Paralympics ticket of some sort? Do I care what sport I go to? Of course not. I’m going to go because sport is wonderful and for the first time in a really long time I feel a slight twinge of patriotism. I doubt I’ll go to Stratford with a ‘Joey hat’ but it’s a start.