“It’s a complex, cluttered world we live in… But the oasis of sanity is often the Olympic Games.”
Lord Sebastian Coe
If you read this quote before the Olympics began, you could have been forgiven for questioning Lord Coe’s own sanity. Between G4S’s project management woes, missiles on residential buildings and frenzied taxi drivers; with all the cynicism and the hype and the back-biting and the worry, the Olympics looked anything but an oasis of sanity.
And yet the last two weeks of breathtaking competition and raw human experience have served as the best possible remedy to the pre-games angst. They have been a timely reminder to any of us who underestimated the magical, unifying, inspiring nature of the Olympic games.
It has, hands down, been a show case of all humanity at its best – and not just mind-addling physical achievement. Has there ever been a more perfect display of parental pride than Burt LeClos’ interview with the BBC after his son beat Michael Phelps to gold in the 200m fly; or Michael Phelps’ grace in defeat in the same race? Oscar Pistorious’ may not have won the 400m, but his stereotype-smashing presence was a huge step forward in the way disability is viewed. Likewise, the crowd’s heart warming support for Caster Semenya has hopefully begun to redress the disgrace of her public humiliation over the last three years.
Olympic athletes continually redefine what is possible for the human body to achieve and showcase the irrepressible strength of the human spirit. What’s more, by showcasing our common humanity; for two weeks speaking in a Universal tongue to the potential of the human when we are courageous, and dedicated and selfless and heroic, the Olympic games unites us and offers a glimpse of what we, as a society could be. So yes, the Olympics brings mania, and hyperbole, and many, many tiny flags; but if a positive vision, a positive demonstration of humainty at its best is not the epitome of sanity then I don’t know what is. Thanks your London 2012 – a generation inspired.