It’s that time again for the world’s greatest “unite humanity” event.
I don’t know about you, but I love the Olympics. Naturally, as a lover of sports it has much appeal to me, but I think my deep-seeded love for the event stems from its ability to unite people from all-around the globe in celebration of human achievement and togetherness.
The four-year build up adds to the specialty of the occasion, an extra year for the Tokyo games due to the delays around COVID-19. It will be a different type of show with the opening (and closing) ceremony as no fans and fewer athletes allowed to partake, adding to the already unusual circumstances.
Still, it must be a proud moment for all athletes to represent their country on the world stage and I’m incredibly stoked for Patty Mills to be named as a flag bearer for Australia this time around. To march with your fellow countrymen and women is one thing, but to lead them into and around the stadium (albeit a bit different this time), would be a huge honour.
I felt the need to watch “Cool Runnings” again last night – which I can’t believe came out 27 years ago! – the funny and heart-warming story inspired by the first Jamaican bobsled team. The movie certainly hits differently from watching it as a kid to watching it as an adult (which is not an uncommon experience with films). Whilst I still laugh hysterically at Sanka trash talking his way to his 7th pushcart derby in a row (and crashing spectacularly after the finishing line), the scene at the end with the four of them lifting their sled across the line after their crash readily moves me to tears now. Because that’s what the Olympics are about, overcoming adversity and the triumph of the human spirit (especially in the face of such odds).
Of course the Olympics are filled with such stories of overcoming adversities and challenges and defying the odds. One only has to look at the Sydney 2000 games (the best of the modern era, but I may be biased) for examples like Cathy Freeman in the 400m, winning gold to the commentary of Bruce McAvaney “what a legend, what a champion”, arguably one of the greatest moments in Australia sports history. You also have Eric “The Eel” Moussambani, the man from Equatorial Guinea who had never even seen an Olympic-sized swimming pool and only started swimming eight months beforehand, yet managed to win his heat to thunderous applause from the crowd.
It’s great to see the Olympics will be returning to Australia with Brisbane set to host the games in 2032 after hosting the Commonwealth Games in 2018. For a sport mad country like Australia this is music to the ears. Our passion for sports is probably better viewed as “civilised war” with our tenacious and competitive nature we sure back ourselves to do well and give our opponents a tough challenge.
I always say that nothing brings people together like sport and music, so to sign off this entry let me share one of my favourite moments which unites these two. In what closed the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics, Sir Paul McCartney led a stadium-full rendition of “Hey Jude”, and if hearing 60,000+ people in unison singing “Na na na nananana, nannana, hey Jude...” doesn’t bring a tear to your eye or move you then I don’t know what will. It was a beautiful moment where, even for a brief second, all the world’s problems dissolved away and we were united in our humanity.