As a rather self-deprecating nation, the Great British public had been looking forward to London 2012 with some cynicism and quite frequent grumbles regarding the cost of hosting the games in tough economic times. It is quite safe to say however that all of that has now been forgotten as Great Britain have come down with an incurable case of Olympic Fever.
Whilst I have had mixed feedback from my friends and colleagues overseas regarding the opening ceremony, at home we were generally impressed with Danny Boyle’s vision of Britain through the ages taking viewers from the quaint Cotswolds countryside through the industrial revolution to the swinging sixties and popular culture of today. And indeed, the Queen of England’s cameo role
(which she apparently nailed in one take) as parachuting bond-girl went down a treat both at home and abroad.
Since then however Britain has been glued to its television screens watching as the wealth of stories unravel and medals roll in for team GB. Yesterday, or “super Saturday” as it has now been coined, saw a mini-climax with our best Olympic day since 1908, as the home nation won no fewer than 6 gold medals in one day!
I was lucky enough to have received tickets for a couple of events and got to visit the Olympic Park this week. The park itself was stunning and the atmosphere was absolutely electric and the party atmosphere was apparent throughout the city which made the metropolis of London feel somewhat like an English Cotswolds village where everyone knows everyone. The day was made all the more enjoyable by the volunteers or “games makers” who were always on hand to welcome visitors, assist and generally keep the crowd going.
The Princes William and Harry have been present at the Olympics all week, watching a range of events and leading the support for local competitors. In an informal interview with BBC presenter Sue Barker they demonstrate their ease in the public eye with some good British banter and revealing that they were unaware of their grandmother, the Queen’s, role in the Games’ opening sequence. If you can find the interview on youtube it is definitely worth a watch if only for William’s embarrassment about potentially being caught on the “kiss cam” with his wife and Harry quipping of the Queen that “Both of us were slightly surprised with our grandmother’s secret hobby of parachuting”.
As Britain looks forward to another week of breath-taking Olympic events and a potentially unprecedented haul of medals, we are unlikely to shake this case of Olympic Fever any time soon.
Yesterday evening most of the British population were glued to our televisions sets whilst perched on the edge of our seats as British Andy Murray made history in his Wimbledon semi-final against Frenchman Jo-Wilfred Tsonga.
Annually around this time of year again we Brits become avid and obsessive tennis fans for two weeks as our television screens are filled with the sight of the prim green courts of Wimbledon Tennis Club in South West London. And each year the tournament ends leaving us with a slightly dispirited feeling of disappointment as our home players are dumped out in the early rounds with the exception of one or two who manage to make it to the latter stages only to lose against the big names of the game. So much is our obsession with Wimbledon and our national players that in the late nineties the word “Henmania” was officially recognized by the Oxford English Dictionary as a result of the annual national frenzy surrounding Tim Henman’s progress (or lack thereof) at the tournament. Tim did indeed reach the semi-finals on four occasions during his career.
This year however it will all be different! On Friday evening Andy Murray from Dunblane, Scotland, battled his opponent and the pressure of expectation of a nation, as he won his opponent and the pressure of expectation of a nation, as he won his semi-final encounter! In fact Murray is now the first British player to reach the Wimbledon Men’s Final in no less than 74 years! In that year Englishman Fred Perry won the event. Murray is also the first Brit in the men’s and women’s games to reach the finals since Virginia Wade won the ladies tournament in 1977.
So now all eyes are on Murray to seize the moment and go one better on Sunday’s final where he’ll face a stern challenge in the form of seven-times champion Roger Federer. The superstitious may have notice that Virginia Wade won the event in the year of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee (2012 is the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee) and that Andy Murray’s and Fred Perry’s Birthdays are just three days apart and Perry was 25 when he won the tournament – Murray turned 25 in May. Also, the last time Britain held the Olympics (1908) a Brit, Arthur Gore, was champion at Wimbledon and the Olympics are coming to London in 2012. So are the stars aligning for a momentous British Wimbledon victory? Either way the British public are looking forward to a Sunday afternoon of nail biting, gut wrenching drama and will live every minute with Murray!
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