7th September 2016
I’d had a gutful of it and declared I had no interest in the upcoming Olympic Games. It was a bold statement and a true statement. Until I started watching it, that is.
What is it about sport – about trying to run faster, jump longer, throw further, break barriers and records and compete at the highest level – that really gets our juices flowing? What is it about sport in the name of your country that elevates our passion to an even higher level? There seems to be something within us, some sort of programming that almost forces us to mentally engage and emotionally invest.
I love watching rugby. I enjoy watching cricket. I’ll give F1 an hour of my time if it’s on. Around Christmas and New Year I’ll even crack open my secret chest of guilty pleasures and tune in to the darts at the Ally Pally.
But show me an elite sportsman or sportswoman in a GB vest or leotard or tracksuit or a pair of Speedos (apologies for that vision) and I’m hooked. The magic kicks in and all of a sudden I’m smitten. I never normally watch dressage, and yet I cried. I never normally watch rowing, and yet I cried. I never normally watch, in no particular order, cycling, swimming, sailing, golf, taekwondo, rowing and canoeing, but in those euphoric two weeks I cried with joy at all of them. I loved it.
Why is it that I can get through a family funeral without shedding a tear and yet Nick Skelton (whom I’ve never met and competes in a sport I know nothing about) and Laura Trott (whom I’ve never met and competes in a sport I know nothing about) get me all emotional? I normally only cry when I’ve stubbed my toe on the bed leg, when I’ve been hit in the unmentionables by a squash ball or when I’ve visited London and bought a round of drinks. And yet here I am, a grown man, blubbing on behalf of Jade Jones (whom I’ve never met and competes in a sport I know nothing about).
While I may sound emotionally spent, I’m confident I have enough left in the tank to cheer on our superhuman Paralympians as they do battle in Brazil. That said, if the GB team gets anywhere near the 120 medals it won in London, I’ll be an emotional wreck.
What’s going on? Am I alone? Is it me? You tell me.