So we’re off and running with the 2012 Olympics, the countdown well and truly down to double figures, London’s spanking new venues ready and waiting, and the torch on its way around the UK.
Got tickets for any events? Didn’t think so. I was hoping to get some for the first day of the modern indoor decathlon (tiddlywinks, gurning, shoveha’p’ny, table football, wink murder, hunt the remote control, paper-scissors-stone, involuntary noises, synchronised twister, and beard growing), but failed there too.
The closest I’ll get for now is a rude awakening on June 1st, when the torch relay passes through the People’s Republic of Euxton just before 8am, a couple of miles down the road from our palatial base in Daftown, Lankers.
For all that, there’s a bit of a buzz at our place at present, something not even the sight of Boris Johnson getting off the official golden plane on Friday and being greeted by Nick Clegg could detract from.
While real-life Muppet Chris Evans hardly gave Ben Ainslie chance to speak on The One Show before Lord Coe and co landed at RNAS Culdrose, we had the telly back on at seven the next morning, the girls up early to see the Cornish sailing legend get the party started at the end of the A30.
Ainslie proved a breath of fresh air as he dillied, dallied and downright mingled with the crowds in the Far West rather than run off, giving young and old alike a darn good look (and a feel on a couple of occasions) of the ‘golden cheese grater thingy’ (© Cornwall Today’s ace columnist Pete Cross, whose wife was among the many community heroes carrying the torch that day) before handing over to the gloriously-named Tassie Swallow.
The St Ives surfer highlighted another aspect – while we won’t see it on the agenda this time, she was given a platform to spread the word about surfing, in the hope that one day her speciality would join the official list of Olympic sports.
Next up was 76-year-old Eric Smith, who was awarded the George medal in 1962 for his part in a helicopter rescue off Land’s End. The fact that he was – like my Dad – a Woking man, just added to the occasion for me.
I could go on, and there were so many great stories from all those involved, the Cornish adventure – however symbolic – just the first episode of a 70-day 8,000 mile adventure around these sceptred isles.
The first day ended across the Devon border with sports commentator Barry Davies among the torch-bearers in Plymouth, just after Chelsea and Bayern Munich had kicked off in the European Cup Final, a gig that would no doubt have been his own not so many moons ago. Yet the amiable veteran would never have turned down his opportunity, and can now talk with first-hand experience about the relay when it arrives in East London.
That counts for a lot, and should be a further indicator that the 2012 Olympics will be about ordinary people and sport rather than just a schmooze between the official delegation and Jack Rogge, a cheap political broadcast for the Cameron and Clegg Show, ludicrous ticket prices for Usain Bolt’s latest dynamic stroll in the park, David Beckham’s current Scandinavian seaman-style beard, or Princess Anne’s gravity-defying bouffant.
I’ve no problem with Beckham, Coe and … erm, Laurence being the public face of what should be the People’s Games, as long as this world-wide event first and foremost highlights a true Olympic spirit. While many past Euro Championships and World Cup football experiences have been spoiled for me by flag-waving and the dreaded Brits abroad mentality, here we have a real chance to shine for all the right reasons.
I’ve seen some of that old Olympic glory first-hand, not least as a regional sports reporter welcoming back surprise track cycling Gold medallist Jason Queally to his Chorley home after his two-gong Sydney 2000 triumph. I also witnessed similar family and local pride for fellow GB silver medallist equestrian Jeanette Brakewell after her three-day eventing success at the same Games.
Two years later, I got a further taste, following the routes of the mountain biking and cycling road races around Horwich and Rivington, reporting the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester.
Yes, I’m not likely to be in London for any of the real stuff this time, but I wasn’t there at Sydney, Athens and Beijing either and enjoyed those parties. What of it?
Through the Olympic torch relay alone we’ve at least got some ownership of the event, and just seeing the famous and not-quite so well known carry the torch and witness how much it means on that personal scale is a great start.
So come on you cynics. Give London 2012 a go. Get in the Olympic spirit. And don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.