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The Olympics 2012

05 Aug The Olympics 2012

I am really enjoying watching the Olympics on TV.  I was, like a number of others in the UK, really not that interested in the build up to the events and I suspected that the Olympics would pass by relatively unnoticed. And then we were all transfixed by Danny Boyle’ s ‘Opening Ceremony ; it was just so magnificent that it completely captured the imagination and since then I have watched the swimming, the cycling, the tennis, the gymnastics, the rowing and most recently the athletics. Three gold medals in track and field on one day is quite unbelievable!  Members of my own family were actually in the olympic stadium on Friday morning to watch Jessica Ennis begin her campaign for gold. The stadium certainly looks very impressive! Much has been made of the differences with the last London Olympics in 1948- aptly named the ‘Austerity Games’. Richard Cavendish, writing in History Today comments on the opening of the ‘Austerity Olympics’:

“July 29th, 1948: The sun blazed down on Wembley Stadium in London on Thursday, July 29th, 1948, when the fourteenth games of the modern Olympiad were formerly opened by George VI in the presence of a host of dignitaries and a crowd of more than 80,000 people. The King, in naval uniform, was accompanied by the Queen and Princess Margaret. Lord and Lady Mountbatten were there, as were the Shah of Iran and the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Trygve Lie. The members of the International Olympic Committee paraded on the turf in top hats. The games had attracted some 6,000 competitors from countries ranging through the alphabet from Afghanistan to Yugoslavia. The Germans and the Japanese were not invited and the Soviet Union stayed away. The Olympics of 1944 would have been held in Britain, but had been cancelled because of the Second World War, and there was a certain appropriateness in the fact that the 1948 games in London were the successors to the notorious 1936 event in Berlin, which had been employed for Nazi propaganda by the German regime.

Britain was still in a state of post-war bankruptcy, austerity and exhaustion. Bread rationing,as it happened, ended on the same day that the games began. There had been no question of building an Olympic village and no money to create new stadiums. Well-worn venues were used for the swimming in the Empire Pool at Wembley, the shooting at Bisley, the yachting at Cowes, the rowing at Henley. The competitors stayed at colleges and barracks in and around London. Because of rationing, many of them had to bring their own food.”

There are another seven days of competition, many more hours of TV coverage and certainly this is proving to be one of the best summers ever in terms sporting success. The legacy of these games will surely be that many young people will aspire to take up some of the sports receiving such extensive coverage. Youngsters will aspire to be successful whatever their background and irrespective of whether they have been educated in the maintained or the independent sector.

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