By Robert Guthrie
DUMFRIES, Scotland – The London 2012 Olympic Games were always set to be ‘the greatest show on earth,’ and judging by events so far, it’s certainly living up to being that exactly.
With a stunning opening ceremony, medals gained and a spectacular Olympic Park, the Games are well underway.
A spectacular opening ceremony showed London to the world with a £27 million – but well worth it – display of British culture, ultimately put together by renowned filmmaker Danny Boyle. Throughout the night, the world saw Britain’s past from rolling rural landscapes to the industrial revolution’s bustling city scene with lifelike smoke chimneys erected in the stadium, pouring out smoke.
For me, one of the major highlights was the lighting of the torch. Thankfully, organizers this year didn’t just redesign a ‘bowl on a stick’ for a cauldron. Instead, it was made out of 204 bronze petals – one for each competing country – which were then put together and made into one large flame which continues to burn brightly.
But I was shocked to find that unlike other Games, the cauldron would be placed inside the Olympic stadium, so only fee-paying athletics ticket holders will be able to see it. In both the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, and four years ago at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, the torch was displayed outside the stadium – really, why couldn’t we have done the same?
The opening ceremony show was spectacular, though, and makes you proud to be part of Britain, knowing that the world’s comments were of high praise and around 40 million people from America were watching on their screens at home in addition to other views around the globe.
Music was put together by Rick Smith of the band ‘Underworld’ and the hauntingly beautiful music which the torch was lit to – specially commissioned ‘Caliban’s Dream’ – set the scene wonderfully. A major positive for me though, was that seven inspirational young torch bearers lit the flame, highlighting the Games’ legacy – ‘inspire a generation.’
It makes you want to take up sports and be part of one of the most inspiring things on earth. Cheesy, it may sound, but it’s really true.
But of course, it’s not just about the culture of the country hosting the Games, it’s ultimately about the sporting events.
At first, I was aware of many Brits going on about the fact that Britain were not getting many medals. At the end of the first few days we had about six, which compared to countries like China and the U.S.A. was not so good.
But now we’ve got 22 gold medals and 48 total medals so far. The nation has scooped up medals in 13 sports, including canoeing, sailing, tennis, shooting and more.
Cyclists and rowers are now leading the medal haul for Britain, particularly with Chris Hoy’s sixth gold medal in the Olympic Velodrome yesterday after the nail-bitingly exciting Men's’ Keirin tournament.
Winning six gold medals finally makes Hoy Britain’s most successful Olympian to date, scraping the title from former rower Steve Redgrave’s hands. More highlights from Britain striking gold at their most successful Games ever include athlete Jess Ennis’ gold from the Woman’s Heptathlon and also many gold achievements at Eton Dorney from Britain’s rowers.
Britain seems to be picking up after a slow first few days, surpassing its gold medal target of 20 set after the nation racked up 19 in Beijing.
So for me, the Olympics are more than worth it. I think it’s a shame when someone grumbles about the Olympics. Of course, there will always be cynics who think the money could be better spent on getting Britain back on track with the recession, but really, the Games make you proud.
To think that many hundreds of thousands of people will be flocking to the British capital this summer is fantastic. And for the cynics, there come great advantages here. There’ll be more of an influx of people who want to take part in sports after the summer with inspiration from the Games.
There will also be a huge amount of money brought in by tourism, with all of the people coming to London visiting not only the Olympics and Paralympics this year, but also visitor attractions and digging deep into their wallets and purses in gift shops.
So really, the Olympic Games being hosted in our country this year is fantastic. It’s just a great celebration of culture and sport. Who knows what the rest of the Games will hold, and who will make it into the history books next, but it’s sure to be a great Games.