For us mere mortals who could not obtain a golden ticket to an Olympic event and are confined to the sofa in order to watch the sports, the time for despairing is over. Last night I went to a ‘Live Site’ in Hyde Park to watch the 200m final and I must say, despite the overpriced beer and occassional woodchip in my shoe, it was a fantastic idea.
We have all heard of the Olympic spirit and atmosphere that is supposed to be stomping through London, but walking down a local London high street, one may be unaware that the greatest sporting show on earth is in town because this spirit is only present at certain points around the Capital. So I went in search of it and stumbled across the Hyde Park Live Site. The prospect of beer and Usain Bolt on a beautiful summer’s evening sounded like the perfect way to soak up that Olympic atmoshpere.
As I waited in line with excitement, looking at the thousands of people from all over the world lining up too, I realised that there was a common bond between us all – none of us had tickets to an Olympic event. I cannot be sure for certain of course, but there was a look in people’s eyes that said, “I’m am determined to be a part of the Olympics one way or another.”
I hope you can grant me a short diversion to answer these questions: “Why do we feel the need to be a part of the Olympic spirit at all? What is wrong with watching it on TV?”
There is nothing the matter with watching London 2012 on the TV, after all, you can get you friends together and make a
nice evening of it. But for some of us adrenaline junkies, the need to soak up the Olympic spirit and be in a crowd is intense. Admittedly, I did watch the 200m final on a TV, but it was a really big TV at that. My main reason for going to Hyde Park was to try an emulate the feel of what the Olympic stadium might be like, with the commentary, the cheering and the sheer mass of people. Hyde Park, I assume, is the closest experience to being at the stadium.
So as I sat down on the tartan blanket with my pint of beer surrounded by a mass of other ticketless people, I felt a great buzz resound around the ground. And then Usain Bolt began warming up with his pre-race antics. We all stood up and the countdown clock appeared. “Only seven minutes until the race”, people uttered. And then the runners got to their blocks and an echo of “shhh!” filled the area. Hyde Park was silent. How that many people managed to be quiet was an incredible feat in itself but was no doubt a testament to Bolt’s legendary status. The starting pistol was fired with a defeaning blow and they were off. Coming up to the final stretch, as expected, Bolt shot past his opponents, and as cool as ever, the world’s fastest man crossed the line with his finger to his lips silencing any doubters. It was a magical moment.
The crowd were electric, shouting and screaming. I can imagine the whole world stopping for those 20 seconds of history. But it was this kind of moment that I wanted to experience. It was that part of the Olympics that I had heard other people talk about and never really seen. But I finally had a chance to experience it searching for the Olympic spirit over the past few days. I finally have a chance to say, “It was a moment I will remember for the rest of my life.”
Have you experienced any of the Olympic spirit? Have you been to watch an Olympic event? What has the feeling been like where you live? Let us know what you think.