I applied for tickets in the first round and got what I wanted, so I was never one of the naysayers.

And yes, it’s costing a fortune, and was going to snarl up London traffic forever (it didn’t, really) and make us a target for every terrorist loony on earth (it hasn’t, so far). And yes, there was talk of locating anti-aircraft missiles on top of a council block in Hackney (was that for real?), and everyone whined about the special traffic lanes (put in place due to the number of athletes who never made it to their events in Athens thanks to traffic jams).

And yes, I’ve had emails from friends saying “I wouldn’t pay to see a bunch of hormonally enhanced monomaniacs jump around on balance beams/dive in tandem/run the 100 meter if you paid me.”  And yes, nearly everyone I know thinks dressage is stupid and all you have to do is sit there while the horse does all the work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But I went to the dressage heats last week and it was bliss. The atmosphere was electric, the volunteers made everyone smile, people waved flags, ate picnics, shrieked when the rain pelted down and sighed when the sun came out again.

Oh, and the riding was…just….breathtaking.

Everyone gasped when the Canadian horse, Capital, freaked out for no apparent reason, and I wondered if it might offer a hint of the sort of huge power that those riders were keeping in check, controlling softly and almost invisibly — with long, slow, patient training and the power of communication between animal and human.

Think about it — a 120 pound rider will never win a trial of strength with a 1200 pound horse, which makes sense of the fact that the equestrian events are the only Olympic events in which men and women compete on equal footing. And a 56-year-old athlete or even a 71-year-old can compete (and beat) a 20-year-old.

(For those still imagining that dressage is one of those dopey athletic freakeries, like dancing with ribbons on sticks, it might interest you to know that it was originally developed in ancient Greece by Xenophon, the great cavalry soldier, as a means of refining the partnership of man and horse in battle.  By readjusting the horse’s weight back on his haunches and unweighting his front half, rider and horse would be far more able to swivel and manoeuvre in extremis.)

Whatever.

It was a brilliant day.

Three days later, my daughter and husband went to the Olympic stadium and watched Usain Bolt win the 100 meter final. Both of them said it was the best evening of their lives.

Nay say all you like. My adopted country is famous for winning gold medals in synchronized moaning.

We had the time of our lives.

 

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9 thoughts on “Olympic fever

  1. Jane 4 years ago

    I was a naysayer over Greenwich, I admit it, but I take it all back. The organisers were right, and I was wrong. The venue works amazingly well. I have still not quite come down from the show jumping gold.

  2. Vanessa Harbour 4 years ago

    I have loved every minute of it from the opening ceremony to watching the dressage team get their UK gold this afternoon. I am glad you had such an amazing day Meg and I am really pleased that despite all those who wanted to knock London 2012 we have, in fact, proved them all wrong.

  3. Meg Rosoff 4 years ago

    And my dear friend Mal Peet has answered me muttering darkly about bread and circuses. He may have a point.

  4. Lia Keyes 4 years ago

    “My adopted country is famous for winning gold medals in synchronized moaning.” Oh, how you make me laugh!!!

    So glad you’re enjoying the fun, Meg.

  5. raych 4 years ago

    We had the same thing in 2010 for the winter Olympics, SO MUCH GROUSING beforehand, but then all the grouse stayed away from the actual Olympics because UGH, FUN AND SPORT AND NATIONAL PRIDE AND IMPROMPTU STREET PARADES. So once you got down there, everything was swell.

    We went to go see Germany play Belarus in the men’s hockey, like, quarter finals or some such. The game itself meant as close to nothing as an Olympic hockey game can, but the CHEERING. So much cheering.

  6. Amanda 4 years ago

    There was a fair level of Synchronised Grousing at the Sydney Olympics too. And yet it brings out smiles in – almost – everyone. Unless rigor mortis has set in. Yes, it may be bread and circuses – but what bread! what circuses! The best part about any Olympics is that level of good sporting conduct which gets dismissed by overgroovers as “cheesy” but actually to me represents what is best about people – an ability to acknowledge talent and be gracious in defeat. Hooray to Olympics. May they remain peaceful, and may the sun shine on the rest of the Games. (And afterwards! I’m on the way over!)

  7. Jake Elliott 4 years ago

    I only watch events where the competitors at least 80% nude or more. That way, the action doubles.

    That being said, Daley can go screw himself.

    1. Jake Elliott 4 years ago

      I mean, would YOU want a kid like that representing YOUR country?

      Tom, if you’re reading, there are pills for problems like that.

      – Jake.

  8. Antony John 4 years ago

    I’ve just returned to the States from Britain and I’m already suffering Olympic withdrawal … partly because of the time difference, and partly because the BBC’s coverage is approximately one thousand times better than NBC’s. In any case, I’m with you on this one, Meg – as a transplanted Brit, it was such fun to return “home” and see everyone upbeat for a change. I’d suggest London hold the Olympics every month from now on.

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