I’ll be honest, I wasn’t really feeling too fussed about the whole London 2012 Olympics “thing”. This time last week, I would have sided with the more cynical in the UK that the billions of pounds put into building the Olympic stadium and other venues and preparing for being the host country would have been better spent helping set the economy back on track. After sitting watching the Opening Ceremony last night however, I could not feel more differently today.
As the BBC coverage began, showing a stadium beginning to fill with spectators and fluffy clouds being brought into place, I couldn’t help but feel intrigued by the green landscape and recreation of the British countryside. I don’t want this to just be a blog about what happened at the Olympic Opening Ceremony, so will stick to what it made me feel. Apart from the epic journey of Britain’s history, from rural agricultural roots to the Industrial Revolution and the evolution of Britain’s part in the digital world, which I felt was portrayed with great showmanship and creativity by Danny Boyle, the evocative performance made me think about the things that made Britain Great.
It was not only the highlighting of the parts of Britain’s heritage, past and present, that the Ceremony made me feel proud of; it was seeing all the proud athletes parading with their country’s flags and their copper petals. The number of people who dedicate their lives to representing their country in their sporting discipline was inspirational. Hearing from the commentators that some countries had only 3 athletes competing, and about countries who had female competitors for the first time made me realise not only the pride of competing that these individuals felt, but also the difference that the Games had made such as by making a contribution to furthering equality.
I feel that the Games are about more than sport and that we can take a lot of inspiration from them taking place in our country. Competitors who take part knowing they are unlikely to win but still being part of an event remind us of the adage that it’s the taking part that matters, and it is. If we never took part in anything unless we knew we would win, how many less experiences would we each have in our lives? How many valuable lessons would we never learn? Skills that would never be developed and strengthened? Sometimes the journey teaches us much more than we could ever have learnt just by getting a gold medal for winning.
Secondly, being proud of what makes you who you are is a key message. In the Olympics, it’s not about thinking you’re better than everyone else, and that’s the same in life. It’s about knowing your strengths and playing to them; celebrating them even, and enjoying sharing the best bits of what makes you you with others. It could be being a good friend, able to listen to people, inspire people, being a parent, being an IT geek, a chef, a dancer, or someone who makes people laugh. I have a few qualities I’m proud of, but after watching the Opening Ceremony, I’m more proud than ever to be British.