Well, all things considered, the Olympics went very well for Britain – or "Team GB" as we inexplicably seem to be calling our collected athletes – and we managed to valiantly fend off the twin challenges of Germany and Australia (the latter, oddly, being the more satisfying win since the Aussies can’t quite believe it). We held out against the Russians until right near the end, too. I suppose being a monolitic superpower helps at the Olympics – China, USA, Russia. Hmm, what a startling top three. Still, 4th place is HUGE (and we were in THIRD for A REALLY LONG TIME which totally COUNTS), and better than we’ve done in decades.
There’s a thing outside Tate Modern – it’ll be gone soon – which is sponsored bumf from Adidas. We went down there a few weeks ago, before the Olympics, and there’s this map. Sort of, not a map really. The absence of a map. It has dots and then people’s names, and it’s Team GB and where they come from. The dots give you a pretty good idea of the shape of Britain. It’s quite cool, really. Anyway, we sort of looked at it and we went "Oh, look, right up at the top there’s… Chris Hoy on his own. Ha ha, poor old Chris Hoy. Wonder who he is?"
Went back there yesterday, and it was like "Oh, there’s Chris Hoy.. and Tom Daley down in the West Country (though where’s Pete Waterfield, eh?).. and Shanaze Reade* in Crewe, and Christine Ohuruogu** and… hey, where’s Rebecca Adlington?" Suddenly these people are household names. And rightly so. I’m usually fairly ambivalent about national sporting success, and sport in general is not my thing at all, but I’ve really enjoyed the Olympics in Beijing and have felt quite excited and proud by our national achievements. Yes, they have my approval and I’m sure their lives are enriched by that.
*yeah, she didn’t win, but watching BMX because she was in it has shown me that BMX racing ROCKS.
**I’ve sort of got how to pronounce that now, but not spell it so apologies if it’s wrong.