A little over two months ago, if you had asked me what I thought of the Olympics, I would probably have said I couldn’t care less. Ask me today, and the answer is very different. I loved the 2012 Games! I came over all British, painted union flags on my nails and for the first time ever, I started shouting at the TV.
For the first couple of days, I saw bits and pieces of the Games but didn’t pay too much attention. I saw the first gold of the games being awarded, but it wasn’t ours, so I wasn’t bothered; it was just some sport on the TV. But everything changed when I watched Helen Glover and Heather Stanning winning our first gold medal. I cheered when they crossed the line. Then Kath Grainger and Anna Watkins began rowing and I started shouting, cheering them on. From then on, I was openly yelling at the TV and I think it helped; we won six medals that day and I screamed for all of them.
Now, the Paralympics were a whole different kettle of fish. Despite having to watch Channel 4 for just over a week, I loved it. Nowhere else would you see a long jumper rip off his trousers or land upside down. Nowhere else will you see murderball – more commonly known as wheelchair rugby; now there’s a sport that’s not for the faint hearted. And nowhere else will you see Jody Cundy throwing a tantrum after being refused a restart in the cycling.
I feel so proud of both our Olympic and Paralympic athletes. We came third in the medal tables in both Games. And not only am I proud, but I am inspired. I have decided that I would like to be an Olympian, even though it seems unlikely; I can’t touch my own toes without bending my legs and I might die if I run, but now is as good a time as any to try. I have seen one-legged cyclists, blind runners and people being knocked out of wheelchairs for sport. I have seen a 39 year old gymnast, a 71-year old equestrian and several athletes who have been doing their sports for less than four years. I’m only 21 and if I really try, I might still make it.
So, if you happen to be watching the Rio games in 2016, keep an eye out for me in the badminton or the fencing. And if you don’t see me then, it might be because I qualified for the speed-skating in the 2018 winter games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Just don’t put money on me. I don’t know how long Olympic fever will last.
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