I know it seems like such a long time ago now… but how good was it?! Just how good was it to have a once in a lifetime (for most of us) experience in this City and to have made the most of it. Ok, we got lucky with the weather, but most things we could control were just about spot on (and yes I know, those empty seats early on were pretty annoying!). Now, we get a another fantastic opportunity with the Paralympics.
There were plenty of doubters before it started and even for a short while after the opening ceremony. But those noises were soon drowned out by the sheer joy and enthusiasm of Londoners as a whole.
The athletes performed, the workers performed, the venues looked amazing and the Volunteers, well they were beyond comparison. If you’d paid the best PR training company in the world they couldn’t have done a better job.
But now it’s all over. To be honest it has left a huge hole, not just in the TV schedules. Yes, we miss Gaby Logan and Ian Thorpe and Jon Mac and all but we will also miss it to look forward to.
So will the athletes. Some will have waited all their lives for those two weeks – and it may just have lasted 20 seconds, or less in one stadium – they would have found it all worthwhile, or left with bitter disappointment.
For some of the athletes, winning a Gold medal was the end game. They probably wouldn’t have thought about what happened after the games, no vision beyond their event. For some, these games will act as a stepping stone, a rung on the ladder – perhaps towards the next games and an improved performance, or perhaps a longer term vision with higher ambitions.
All of these athletes will soon realise, if they haven’t already, that they need to find another goal. Whether it’s to continue on to the next Olympics in Rio (there’s an incentive in itself!), or maybe that’s too far, too much. Many will have immersed themselves so deeply in the pursuit of their goal that it may some time and reflection to decide what to do and which direction to go.
The bigger the athlete, the more doors of opportunity will open for them, which may make decisions a lot harder for them. However, for someone like Usain Bolt the options will be pretty much limitless – if he has the desire he can have a go at pretty much anything – but the void that will be left without athletics in his life will be huge, only time will tell whether he can fill it.
For some of the lesser known athletes, from sports with maybe a less high profile – boxing, judo, canoeing or kayaking – their choices may well be a little more limited with a more easily planned career path.
So what can we expect from the Paralympics? I suspect that most of us don’t really know. We’re all probably expecting some amazing things, and quite rightly, but exactly what those will be and will unfold over the next 12 days.
One thing is for sure, the athletes participating throughout the games will have been given direction as well as purpose just through the existence of their events. This is something that 20 years ago their predecessors would never have had.
If all goes accordingly, we the general population, will have a much broader knowledge of what ‘disabled’ life entails. Many of our perceptions will be challenged and many prejudices blown away. It’s going to be another rollercoaster!!