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Olympic Torch

June 26, 2012

Now I’m fully aware of the controversy and issues surrounding the Olympics this year and the torch relay and I very much agree with most of them.  However this is another story that many who knock the games may not be aware of and that is the amazing dedication that countless thousands of primarily young people put into training into their chosen sport.

In Leeds for example if you go down to the John Charles Centre for Sport on any night of the week you will see the place packed with young swimmers, divers and athletes all putting in effort, training hard, learning new things, progressing and having a great time.  I’ve spent countless hours over the last few years watching this and have come to the conclusion that these young people are the complete antithesis of the general “oh young people today” mindset of some people and it is here that the papers should come if they want a reflection of young people today as this picture, which is no doubt replicated up and down the country, is a far more accurate reflection than is generally portrayed.

So for me it’s not the cost, sponsorship, ticket sales etc etc that I think of when I think of the games or the torch it’s these young people and the thousands like them that are simply putting in effort, having fun and doing the best they can which is symbolised by the torch.

Yesterday on the torch’s vast journey round Britain it passed about 20 yards from my house and I so I popped out with the kids to see it before school.  I must say the atmosphere was fantastic, there was a real community feel the like of which you don’t experience very often.  Staff from the local shops and factories came out, school children were there, residents young and old, the builders from the site nearby all packed a quite residential street on the outskirts of Leeds, chatting and having a good time.  It was simply good fun and we all need more of that I’d say.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 27, 2012 9:48 am

    Nice piece. Agree completely about the real Olympic ideals of excellence, training and dedication to sport. This is what the Olympics should be about. I just wonder how we have seemingly got to the point where we cant have a great sporting event without it being hi-jacked by the corporates. Could we imagine a games without McDonalds, Coke and Samsung calling the shots….?

    I think that what you experienced was a simulacrum of community, a shared experience that made one feel like part of the community. A bit like singing along at a concert or a football match. It makes us feel like we belong, for a short while. And as you say, its great fun, and who wouldn’t want more of that?

    But the reality is that there is little or no ‘common cause’, little or no ‘shared interest’ and actually little or no relationship with others in the crowd, apart from the shared experience of watching a cavalcade and a bright shiny torch go by. Just imagine if we could get local people to connect over things that mattered to them, to organise in pursuit of progress and to develop their power to make things happen. Then we might start to feel like ‘its the real thing’…

    • Ian Street permalink*
      June 28, 2012 9:20 pm

      Can’t disagree with any of that. I think that people find it hard to organise across a community as for many a community is such a nebulous concept but they will organise across and within a community of interest, for example the thousands of volunteers who help to run sports clubs.

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