V Cars Diary of a Novice Triathlete
Day 33 – I’ve got Olympic Fever!
I’m at the Olympics this week and, you know what? It’s brilliant.
Surely, there can’t be anyone who didn’t think the Opening Ceremony wasn’t FANTASTIC. I had a tear in my eye from the first moment, watching the sweat and toil of my predecessors build the country that I’m fortunate enough to call home.
You know, it’s incredible that this little green speck of an island was able to give the rest of the planet its primary tongue, its soundtrack, codify its sport and provide a moral compass.
Win or lose at the Olympics, I’m thoroughly proud to be British. I know the Welsh and Scottish are going to snipe from the sidelines and that’s a shame – my best friend is a Welshman and we share so much more than those things on which we differ.
Plus, the contamination of what it is to be Britishness by the far right, always leaves singing the national anthem with a suspicious taste in one’s mouth.
It’s great to put all that aside for a fortnight and just revel in the joy of the national community much of the world takes for granted.
But, maybe that’s me.
I went to the volleyball on Sunday – Team GB (not sure I’m liking the Americanisation of our Olympic representatives, but then I’m certain it’s just The Little Englander in me trying to stem an inevitable linguistic tide) v Bulgaria and Germany v Russia.
It was impeccably, IMPECCABLY, well organised. The empty seats around us were a bit upsetting – especially when there appears to be vastly more demand than supply – but that didn’t detract from the entertainment.
Volleyball is not a sport of which I’m particularly fond or but the sheer athleticism was remarkable, as well as the intuitive reactions when defending. I asked my five year old later in the day if he’d like to be in the Olympics and he said ‘yes, to play volleyball’. Clearly, I’m steering him toward tennis and golf – if he’s going to be good at sport it might as well be one where he (and obviously, I) stay in nice hotels.
I’m afraid this might be a moment by which he’s inspired – damn you Olympic tickets, why couldn’t you have thrown up something more lucrative? See, I told you I was getting into the Olympic spirit.
I was inspired, post-ceremony, to go for a five miler with my Great North Run-bound wife, Alison. I was pretty comfortable all way around.
Alison was comfortable too – I think she’s panicking a bit about not having the stamina. I’ve tried to explain to her about the incremental nature of training, and I think she’s going to be okay. She’s out running six miles today and looking to build to 13 miles by September. Plenty of time.
Time is running out for me – I’ve not swum/swam for a little while and will try and get two lots of 1,000 metres in between now and Sunday. I think I’m going to be okay. I know there’s not going to be thousands cheering me on a la Adlington, but I, if I start to struggle, there will be a voice inside my head telling me I’m British, that I’m made from the sternest stuff and that I can do it.
Oh, one more thing…
I’ve played football all my life. Growing up in Middlesbrough, there wasn’t much choice.
A very welcome side effect of the Olympics has been a growing distrust, bordering on dislike of what used to the beautiful game. When you see sportsmen and women without the posturing, the vanity and the cheating, it just feels so much closer to the reason humans pursue athletic endeavour in the first place.
I’m hoping the Olympics have ended my love affair with football, in all honesty. I doubt it, football will always be the mistress I’d increasingly like to hide away.
Perhaps, with each stroke, my swim might distance me further from football, from my childhood, from the utter mediocrity that pervades the British football industry. I can only hope.
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