After four posts that I scribed over this week, this will be my final one. The only way I know how to wrap it all up is to give you a list of my favorite moments that happened over the fortnight.
1.) The first night. When I landed on Friday, 27 July, I walked around Olympic Park and looked at the Village, deciding on what I was going to do that evening. I found out, courtesy of the BBC, that there was a huge outdoor viewing area in Hyde Park and they were going to show the Opening Ceremony and host a concert. The concert featured Snow Patrol (Northern Irish/Scottish), Duran Duran (English) and Stereophonics (Welsh). All three were pretty good, but watching the crowd go NUTS over Duran Duran was simply unexpected and hilarious. The Brits love their 1980s pop bands.
But, the memorable moment of the night came during the beginning of the Opening Ceremony. You may or may not remember the maypole and the songs that were played, but they were extremely significant to the Brits. It was very emotional to when all the Englishmen who were at the concert started singing (well, kind of just yell) the words to Jerusalem, the pseudo-anthem of England (they are only allowed to have the official anthem of the UK: “God Save the Queen”). The Scots followed their English brethren with “Flower of Scotland,” while the Northern Irish belted “Danny Boy,” and the Welsh recounted “Bread of Heaven.” After all four songs were sung, the crowds sang “God Save the Queen.” (Remember that the United Kingdom is actually made up of four different nations: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. There is some bad blood between the four different countries and so it was very special to hear them sing their own “anthems” followed by British anthem of “God Save the Queen.”)
2.) The victories of Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis. Simply put, it was one of the greatest evenings at the Olympics for all British people, and I must say I loved it too! Jessica is an amazing athlete and has such a modest, sweet personality to her. Watching her and Mo come across the finish line, I was just in awe of their accomplishments: truly incredible. And the support of the British fans was overwhelming. I was watching from another outdoor venue and we could still hear the loud roar for both, even though we were about 25 miles away from Olympic Stadium. Then when Mo won his second gold, it was just icing on the cake. Seriously.
Even more memorable: their reactions. The pressure of the home crowd is sometimes too much to handle, but like many of the British athletes, they used the crowd to their advantage. Watching Mo and Jessica cross the finish line and realize what they accomplished is truly an awesome thing to see. They’ve worked their entire life to achieve greatness and they were able to do it in front of their own countrymen. Sensational stuff, that.
3.) Sarah Attar. Wow. I’m actually getting goose bumps and a bit teary-eyed just thinking about this moment in Olympic history. Sarah Attar, dual citizen of Saudi Arabia and USA, was part of the Saudi delegation to the Olympics, making her one of two women to represent the Kingdom. This was the first time the Kingdom’s delegation had women on the roster. Sarah competed in the 800m portion of the track and field events at Olympic Stadium She didn’t win a gold, or silver, or even bronze. She didn’t place high enough to even get out of Heat 6. She finished about 30 seconds behind the second-to-last runner and 43 seconds off her heat’s leader (who placed fourth in the finals). When she was finishing her lap and started coming down the last 200m or so, the crowd at Olympic Stadium all began to cheer and stand for her. She was going to finish last in the heat! She wasn’t going to win anything! But she won all London’s admiration that day. Everyone had heard of her story and everyone at the stadium wanted to show their appreciation and support to her for being a trailblazer.
She was very overwhelmed when she crossed the finish line and thanked the crowd. But that is what the Olympics are all about, right? Being able to participate is such an honor, but being able to be one of the first women your country has ever sent to the Olympics must be pretty special. Then to get the reception from the London crowd had to be quite emotional – I know it was for me, and I wasn’t Sarah Attar. She will definitely be a celebrity on Pepperdine University’s campus this coming semester. Thank you, Sarah, for giving all of us who watched that special moment of the Olympics.
These moments are just three of the countless memories I have from the London Games. The motto of this Olympiad was “inspire a generation”. I truly believe that Sarah Attar, Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah, the women of Team USA basketball, the rowers of Team GB, the boxers of the USA and GB, the judo champions, and cyclist Sir Chris Hoy have all inspired little boy and girls to pick up sporting equipment around the world and be the very best that they can be. Those kids just may be future Olympians, and they will all say it was “Olympian X” who inspired them all the way to the Games.
To the people and city of London – Cheers!
This post was written by our Olympics correspondent, Matt.