I really got into the Olympics this year, something that I don’t usually do.
My son has enjoyed it too, raving about Christian Thomas’ gymnastics skills and gazing in admiration at Jessica Ennis – I’m sure I caught him hugging the TV screen during one of her interviews, though he flatly denies it and maintains that girls are yuck.
It’s all gone off amazingly smoothly considering the size of the event and I think we’ve done pretty well really, haven’t we? Plus, we still have the Paralympics to come.
If I had one gripe with the Games, it would have been the sponsorship – I know the financial reality meant that some tough decisions probably had to be made when it came to funding, but what exactly do Dow Chemical, McDonald’s and Coca Cola have to do with health and sport?
Here we are with some of the best sporting icons our country has yet the whole thing was undermined ever so slightly by the IOC not being able to stand on its own values.
There was an irritatingly hypocritical underlying message of wealth over health, especially in light of the ever-increasing obesity levels and the fact that the government makes such a big deal – and rightly so – about promoting the importance of exercise and diet for our children.
In my son’s first school year I received the results from the routine weight check informing me that he was overweight. I was shocked – he was always a heavy baby, in the 95 percentile; I used to say he was made of stone. I obsessed for days over the letter – had I been feeding him too much? Was he doing enough exercise?
A year-and-a-half later he still eats the same amount but any excess podge he might have had as a toddler didn’t stand a chance against his likely future height and the fact he can’t sit still for five minutes.
So I’m not worried about him in that way as he is very active, some might say a little too active.
But not all kids love sport, I know because I was one of them. I hated PE at school, in fact I hated it so much sometimes I found it preferable to hide in the toilets for an hour, though it may have had something to do with the matriarchal PE mistress, sweaty changing rooms and communal showers.
But they seem to do things better now and I love the fact that his infant school offers such a variety of subsidised after-school fitness clubs, allowing him to trial different activities each term (I don’t remember after-school clubs existing when I was young).
It would have been nice then if the Games could have avoided casting its own positive message about health under the shadow of a giant golden ‘M’, though these big companies are just as much to blame for abusing their financial leverage – a few morals could have seen them bypass the Olympics for more appropriate advertising outlets.
Still, that aside the spectacular opening and closing ceremonies, the effort and dedication of the athletes and volunteers and the way our country came together to support them has been truly inspiring for us all.