London Olympics 2012: inspiring a generation

Men's 400m preliminaries - London Olympics 2012It’s hard to believe it was more than two months ago that I was in London for the 2012 Olympics. The memories are still so fresh in my mind. To say the event was amazing is an understatement. Inspirational, moving, heart-rending, tear-jerking, awe-inspiring…I could go on. The trip was truly one of those bucket-list items that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.

Armed with our patriotic red and white Canada gear, we left for London the evening of July 28 and stayed for 10 days – from July 29 – August 7. In that time, I went to 5 different events: table tennis, women’s basketball, men’s indoor volleyball, Day 2 of athletics, and the Japan vs. France women’s soccer semi-final match at Wembley Stadium.

When we weren’t at an actual event, we watched them – at home, in the pub, on the streets, in the parks. The Olympics were all consuming. It was truly impossible not to feel proud of Great Britain and all of their amazing accomplishments – and not just the athletic achievements, but the major accomplishment of organizing an event as enormous as the Olympics. While we were warned of massive lines and total chaos, I have to say the entire event was expertly coordinated. We had no issues with transit and we never waited more than 7 minutes for entrance into the stadiums or Olympic Park. Admittedly, we were very organized, but I was blown away by the general calmness of the whole event.

By far, the highlight for me was Athletics. To me, this event is the Olympics. Olympic Stadium is incredible. The roar of 80,000 people cheering is like nothing I’ll ever hear again. Yet that same 80,000 that can cheer to deafening volumes could also become so quiet you could hear your own heart beat before the starting gun went off.

At the event, we saw long jump, steeplechase, javelin, pole vault, and dozens of 100m and 400m heats, including Usain Bolt and Oscar Pistorios in their preliminaries. The most amazing part? We were 8 rows from track level. 8 rows! As we walked into the stadium to our seats, my heart was racing as we got closer and closer to the track. I envisioned barely being able to see the details of the events – and that was OK. At least we were there. Instead, we were so close we could practically hear the athletes breathing. Incredible.

While I knew this particular event would be my favourite, I never anticipated it being emotional. There was something so special about athletes achieving a personal best in their preliminary heats. Even if they didn’t qualify for the next round, seeing the letters PB next to their finishing time gave me goosebumps. I know how amazing achieving a PB is, but to do that at an event like the Olympics? I can’t even imagine what that must feel like. It brought happy tears to my eyes. I just wanted to run out onto the track and hug them. What an amazing accomplishment.

While we didn’t attend the marathons, I watched the entire women’s marathon on TV from start to finish. I was literally glued to the screen as I watched the athletes run through all the most historic and beautiful parts of London. Despite falling after colliding with another runner just beyond the halfway point, Tiki Gelana of Ethiopia took first place with a record breaking time of 2:23:07. My jaw was practically on the floor especially considering my time for HALF that distance is 2:13:13. It made me want to be a better runner.

It seemed to me that we were among very few Canadians in London, and admittedly, we didn’t have a lot to cheer for. Dubbed “Bronzilla” early in the games, we did finally achieve one gold medal in women’s trampoline. I guess summer Olympics aren’t really our thing. We definitely excel at winter sports! In the end, Canada finished with 18 medals, tying our tally from Beijing 4 years ago.

Because we were already back in Canada when the closing ceremonies happened, we recorded them to watch at a later date. I finally got around to watching them on the Labour Day weekend and what a spectacular end to an amazing event. I was practically bawling when all the athletes paraded out together with their team uniforms and medals. I’m really not that emotional, I swear. But there is just something magical about the Olympics. It turns me into a cry-baby!

There were so many amazing moments of the 2012 Olympics. Usain Bolt proved that he really is the fastest man on earth. Oscar Pistorius showed that even though you might be disabled, anything is possible. Michael Phelps made history with 22 medals and Canada proved we rock at trampoline! It was incredible just to be there and be a part of it.

Even though this is months late, I want to give a huge congratulations to all of the Olympians. You really did inspire a generation.

See you in Rio!


  1. Graham October 5, 2012 / 12:25 pm

    That sounds like an amazing trip! You really captured the emotions well.

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