I’ve never been good at goodbyes, and being the terribly sentimental person that I am makes them all the more difficult. When I was younger, I remember crying as the flame was extinguished in Calgary, Seoul, and other games. I didn’t want the games to end.
These games revived me. They brought back the purest and rawest emotions that I remember having as a child. And it felt so good. Until the end when it was time to bid the 2012 Olympics farewell.
In the opening ceremony, LOCOG Chairman Sebastian Coe said of the Games, “There is a truth to sport, a purity, a drama, an intensity, a spirit that makes it irresistible to take part in and irresistible to watch.” While the games between 2000 and 2008 are not to be admonished, London was special, unique. For this fanatic, these games brought back to the Olympics the “purity”, “intensity”, and “spirit” that as a young child, I had found in the Olympics.
I once remarked that the Olympics were, as the late Bud Greenspan said, “Never Neverland.” It is more than this. It is more than just the unity of cultures from across the globe. They are about what Chairman Coe also said in that opening ceremony speech:
“In every Olympic sport there is all that matters in life. Humans stretched to the limit of their abilities, inspired by what they can achieve, driven by their talent to work harder than they can believe possible, living for the moment but making an indelible mark upon history.”
Just as it did in 1908 and 1948, London again welcomed the world for two weeks of glorious sport and competition, making the game more memorable than others. Thousands of athletes came to London and made their own indelible mark upon history. And just as I once was so many years ago, I found myself crying during the opening and closing ceremonies, in absolute awe of the strength, athleticism, and courage displayed by thousands of athletes. And while these games were also “irresistible to watch”, they also gave me a sense of hope. For the female Saudi athletes daring to compete, those athletes representing a war-torn country, or a competitor overcoming personal tragedy to attend these games, they all gave us hope. They reminded us that it is not without pain, tears, courage, and determination that we achieve our goals.
Yes, Chairman Coe, Great Britain “did it right.” We did see the very best of Britain, and for that we are all eternally grateful. And as you said, these games have inspired a generation.
That feeling of extreme sadness I had as a child when the Olympic flame is extinguished….I had it again tonight. I don’t want these games to end. While the flame may have been extinguished, we will carry the memories of 2012 with us always, using them as a source of inspiration, whether we are young or old, athlete or fan. Let us begin to count the days until Sochi and Rio, remembering, as the London Games reminded us, to always strive for Faster, Higher, Stronger.