Tuesday 31 July 2012

The marmite of ceremonies bows to the 26-course banquet

From the opening ceremony to the Brits in the gym

The one thing about the opening ceremony that I was hoping for was that the person (or as it transpired people) bestowed with the extreme but arbitrary honour of lighting the Games cauldron was not some kid from the East End.  It wasn’t quite a worst nightmare, but it was on the way.

The entirety of the bid to get the games was built on concept of youth, so to have seven teenage sporting upstarts initiating the games is at the very least consistent. But was there really nobody who deserved it more? For a start there are scores of teenagers already at the Olympics representing any nation that competes in anything other than the gentleman’s tripartite of equestrian, shooting and archery. You do not need to be the most imaginative to think of somebody better who has actually achieved something significant already: Rebecca Romero, Roger Bannister, Daley Thompson, Paula Radcliffe or Steve Ovett, to name just a few.

The symbolic importance of the lighting of the cauldron means that this is more than just the cherry on a cake of youth indulging – it is the icing, dusting, jam and chocolate too. Why is it so important to glorify a generation that is yet to do anything of significance? I was 12 (gasp) when London was awarded the games and have been hugely excited by the prospect ever since, but I think I can speak for the majority of Mr Coe’s ‘target audience’ when I say I don’t feel like the games are any more for my benefit than anyone else. I’d in fact go further, and say that having youth rammed down our throats with patronising undertones like a pushy parent is cringe worthy.

The rest of the opening ceremony has divided opinion. Everyone seems obsessed with representation. This page in history was missed out, wah wah wah, it was too multicultural, cry cry cry, what about the rest of the world, boo hoo hoo. Oh do me a favour! Danny Boyle must have known he was going to ruffle some feathers with what he did, so I tip my hat off to him (oh how very ‘British’) for pulling off the boldest ceremony in Olympic history, boldness that has paid off already for one lucky producer with a few wealthy Chinese friends. As the only non-sporting event until the closing ceremony it isn’t supposed to be compared and ranked by others, it was entertaining and celebrational in its own right on a magnificent scale and that is all that matters. Most importantly, though, we can finally get down to the important business of allocating precious medals.

Highlights for me so far have to be performances by the Brits in the gym. At the time of writing the women and men are both safely through to the final of the team events by performing to the upper limits of their ability. One can only hope we underestimate ourselves as even a bronze in either of those events would go down as one of the one of Team GB’s greatest achievements in London, or in living memory. Elsewhere the mixed doubles badminton pairing of Adcock and Bankier looked inspired, even potential winners, in the early games of both opening matches, but they then seemed to crumble under the roars of encouragement and now won’t progress past the group stages. This and the 28th place finish for Mark Cavendish serves as a lovely reminder that there is no such thing as a fairytale for the next two weeks.

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