As I write this the Olympic closing ceremony is drawing to a close, ending two incredible weeks of sporting entertainment in London.
One of the abiding pleasures of having lived abroad for a very long time is the way that you can feel so much pleasure on behalf of the place that you called home. I have been so, so proud of London during the Games. The event has gone off without a hitch, and all of the reports indicate that Londoners were hugely welcoming to their foreign visitors.
Of course, I go mental whenever New Zealand wins a medal. We’ve had an awesome Olympics, winning 13 medals and finishing 16th on the overall table. Our population equates to the number of people who catch the London Underground each day, so by anybody’s standards we’ve had a sensational time.
What was lovely, though, was being able to get almost as excited whenever a member of Team GB won a medal. The Brits have been simply outstanding, dominating many events and also excelling in some disciplines, like dressage, for the first time. It has been so lovely to think of the pride and happiness that these athletes will have brought my friends and family in the UK. For us, the excitement was magnified because Tristan has worked with so many of the successful sports over the years.
I know that a lot has been spoken about the importance of ensuring that the Games creates a ‘legacy’ for Great Britain – in other words, that it generates lasting benefits for British society. People will talk about reinvigorating school sport, or encouraging further investment in East London. However, I hope that the legacy of these Games might be a shift in attitude from the British people – a reversal of the automatic “it will probably be rubbish if we’re doing it” Eeyorish attitude that so many Brits had before these Games. It would be absolutely brilliant if the sucess of the Games could help Brits to realise that, as a nation, it’s possible to be positive and optimistic about things, without inviting ridicule, and that they have every right to trust in their own abilities to perform at the highest standard, both as athletes and as members of the public. Really, the only people who thought that the London Games might be a flop were British people – the rest of the world knew that London would put on an amazing show, and we weren’t disappointed.
I’m already hatching plans to go to the Rio Games in 2016 – to see New Zealand win the first Olympic Sevens medal, of course!