Before they started I was rather pessimistic about the Olympic Games. I had visions of an endless stream of bureaucratic and security oversights plus “plucky Brits” coming in 8th (out of 8) in a wide range of events. Well I couldn’t have more wrong could I?
My two days as a spectator couldn’t have gone more smoothly. The train, the tube and the Docklands Light Railway, both there and back, scored a perfect 10/10. The volunteer helpers were excellent and the security checks at the venue were efficient, but also quick and friendly.
We watched judo, boxing and weight lifting and saw some Team GB success in all three. Everything ran like clockwork with events starting on time and what was happening being well explained by enthusiastic and knowledgeable commentators
The only thing that disappointed me was the Queen at the Opening Ceremony. She looked both bored and ill and was busy picking her nails when Team GB came into the stadium. We were not amused.
It was only 16 years ago when Team GB won just one gold medal throughout the entire Atlanta games. We were 36th in the medal table and it was so depressing watching some of our Olympians, particularly in some of the more fringe events, performing like novices.
I remember that Manchester had created quite a strong bid to host the games and in the first round of voting they were far from disgraced by getting 11 votes. Belgrade, who were never going to win, came last in the first round and I think it was assumed that their 7 votes would go to either Athens or Manchester. Curiously it now seems as if Melbourne were the main beneficiaries of the Belgrade votes, and with most of the Manchester support also being transferred to Melbourne, Manchester were doomed.
Things have certainly moved on since then. We are a world power and punch massively above our weight.