London’s high performance summer is about to begin. A Henman Hill mood carpets the capital…surprise at having got this far and anxiety about what happens next.
The weather is damp and dreadful – an oppression of rain – a familiar blanket for a public keeping its chin up, and disregarding all logistical odds. This is what Londoners understand – how to create miracles on a soggy island.
The city looks sleek. It has polished its mix of metal and glass so it now gleams proudly beside the grand old architecture along the Thames. Everything shines – ready to impress the hundreds of thousands of visitors, athletes and officials who are about to arrive.
This is the third time the Games have come to the capital. They were here in 1908, relocated from an Italy still paying for the damage caused by Mount Vesuvius’ 1906 eruption, and they were here again after the Second World War in 1948.
The 1908 Games were important for the marathon as London had to lengthen the race to ensure that the runners, who started in Windsor, would finish in front of the royal box in the White City Stadium. The resulting 26.2 miles became the official marathon distance, the length that will be run again in 2012.
Today a fresh generation of British Olympians waits in the wings, each tasked with ‘inspiring a generation’. They, and the thousands organising the Games, have just three more nerve-squeaking weeks to wait before the countdown clock can tick off its final seconds.
Is it too much to deal with – performance at such heights in front of so many? Possibly not for the athletes and organisers. They have been at work on the project for years…it’s us spectators who now have to do our part. Are we ready?
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, urges us to be so…to step forward and see this through. The problem is, do we trust him?
Perhaps, we spectators should be considered participants ourselves. Perhaps we could be assigned an elite team of masseurs to help us over that attendance line.
We might not be running from the plains of Marathon to Athens, but the decision to swop our slippers for a stadium seat already feels like way more than we’ve been trained for.
Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2019