I cried tonight. I cried last night. I cried the night before. I have spent the whole of August bloody crying. Not because of a boyfriend or shoes that didn’t fit or milk that’s on the turn. This is different crying.
Prior to the London 2012 games, I was one of the “meh” people. We’d heard about all the negatives of this for 7 years; the spiralling debts, the building problems, the security issues. Right up to the wire there were still problems, so expectation was minimal and I admit I expected it to just pass us all by. Well how wrong I was. Because the Olympics turned out to be absolutely fucking brilliant.
What was so different this time? I think the difference now is that social media offers a platform to share feelings with other people, whether you know them or not. It’s like sitting on a massive sofa in a massive pub watching a massive telly after a dodgy wedding. So when athletes were competing and I was sitting here sofa-running or sofa-swimming with them and then cried when they won and cried again when they got the medals (I got SO sick of the National Anthem – it was like being Rick-Rolled on a constant bloody loop), I knew there were thousands of others doing exactly the same because we were all talking about it, sharing it and crying about it. There was such a resplendent vibe about, everyone was happy, proud, smiling. (Well, with the exception of Piers Morgan who was doing his nut about athletes not singing the anthem thus not helping the kids at Great Ormond Street – never mind the emotion the athletes felt, it was all about Piers Morgan but that’s a different grumble and I’m really trying not to bang on about it here even though I’ve already started.)
My point is this country has been in the shits for ages now. People of all ages are pissed off with the government, there has been nothing but bad news spewing out of the publishing houses, we’ve had so many dips in recession I’ve lost count. But the Olympics managed to do something rather extraordinary. It managed to give everyone something positive to focus on, to feel good about, a collective cheer at every success and a collective “bloody good effort” at every attempt. It managed to distract from the 24/7 crap, even the finger-pointing laughter at Boris dancing like a grandad with piles at the closing ceremony was done with a light heart. It gave us all a much needed break. And it’s been brilliant.
And now the Paralympics are having exactly the same effect. Even more so, maybe, because of the additional talents of the exceptional athletes. One can only imagine how difficult it must be to run on blades, to race with no vision, to propel their chairs at such speed using every ounce of strength they have. These people not only face challenges every day, they challenge themselves further by utilising their talents and competing on the world’s biggest stage. Of course, not all of us are athletes. Not all of us are disabled. Not all of us are able-bodied. Not all of us are out of work. Not all of us are in work. Not all of us are able to work. We are all different and we all face different challenges. But on a personal level, the athletes have inspired me to say a massive “fuck you” to the challenges I personally face and to make the best of what I am still able to do. And judging by some tweets I’ve seen, others feel the same too.
We’re only 3 days in and already twitter is a collective again. I like it. I like it a lot.