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The Olympic Torch Relay 2012 - Infectious National Pride
So it's finally upon us, the Olympics!
Ever since London won the bid for the 2012 Olympics there have been mixed feelings about the whole thing from the "general population". With the conspiracy theorists predicting danger everywhere, and people worrying about the economy saying we can't afford it, there has been a huge "bah humbug" feeling amongst many.
It's almost as if it's not "cool" to say your looking forward to the Olympics this year!
I, personally, am gratified that the truth about how people really feel is prevalent now that the torch relay is heading around the country. With 8000 runners travelling 8000 miles, suddenly, when the torch gets to your town, people everywhere forget all their complaints, and hit the streets in their masses just for a glimpse of the torch and to be a part of the celebrations that are spreading all over the country as I speak!
Excitement and Pride
It's huge really! Our country, the United Kingdom, hosting the Olympic games!
The eyes of the world will be upon us, and the opening ceremony will (hopefully) fulfill it's promise to be a spectacular extravaganza that will impress everyone.
Never mind the cost! No really, I mean that sincerely. I think it's OK to push the boat out, and spend money to make this really impressive, after all, how will the rest of the world view us if we did it all on a budget? Disrespectful to the games? Probably!
It's also OK for towns to spend money on the torch relay, it is generating excitement and national pride all over the country, and (I hope) this will last throughout the Olympic games themselves.
People need to remember the spirit of the Olympics. It is supposed to be separate from politics, just about the sport, and the nations taking part. A peaceful, worldwide event that is not about how much it costs, or the corporation involvement (after all, without the corporations how could the country really afford it? Would the people complaining really prefer to pay it out of their taxes? I think not!), or to big up the politicians!
All the countries who participate in the games support their sportsmen and women, hoping for medals. National pride within a worldwide event, without prejudice. All the athletes taking part have worked hard to get where they are, and need the support of their own countries to recognise just how much they have achieved just to be selected to compete! It is their lifes work, their vocation, and should be respected by all!
The torch relay is on it's final leg as I write these words, less than a week now to the opening ceremony.
I'm not going to lie, I for one, am really quite excited! And as I headed into town Thursday 19th July 2012 to see the torch myself, I could feel the excitement in the air!
It was electric!
What happens is this.. The torch travels a certain distance each day, and then the last town it gets to hosts a celebration that is like a festival. Huge stages with well known bands, fireworks, and lightshows, it's not to be missed if you live in or near one of these towns.
In Sandwich, the torch came through in the morning, between 9am and 10am, so the celebrations were all in the morning, and on a much smaller scale.
It was fun though, and every person there was smiling and enjoying the parade. It's like national pride is separated into smaller groups of "town pride", and that is a good thing also!
People forget all their complaints, politics, and woes, even if it's just for the morning! All the concerns are about having a good time in your own town, and hoping that the torch is welcomed in a fitting manner! No pomp and ceremony... just music, cheering and a jolly good time! Even the police accompanying the parade on bikes were jolly!
Ever seen a policeman dance? We did in Sandwich that morning, and it made everyone laugh!
Good for them!
In our little town of Sandwich, the music accompanying the parade was provided by Sandwich Technology school, and this wasn't nearly as bad it sounds. The whole town was full of pride...
The music involved lots of drumming and some saxophones, and was actually really good at helping raise the excitement of the crowd.
Please excuse the quality of the next photo, it is I assure you, the best of the bunch I got...
Say what you want about corporations, but without their input there would be no Olympic games this year.
Samsung, Coca Cola, and Lloyds TSB were the main trucks in our parade and their trucks were impressive, with the torch bearers for the day all in these trucks and the torches in stands ready to be lit as part of the relay.. It was an exciting glimpse of the torches and raised excitement for when we would see the runner with the Olympic flame... She would be here soon...
The Moment Arrives
Suddenly, over a loud hailer, we heard a voice say "Now let's hear everyone make some noise..."
And there it was, the Olympic flame!
Representing peace, unity and friendship, it was what everyone had come to see. The crowd surged forward to catch a glimpse of the torchbearer, Caroline Spence, as she went past holding the flame aloft for all to see.
It was awesome!
The crowd went wild, children and adults alike all cheering, whooping and clapping, and even though it was almost over as soon as it had begun, I think everyone was glad they made the effort to come and cheer the flame on it's way.
Funnily, as soon as it had past us, everyone moved with the same idea... to take a short cut through an alley to further up the route to try and catch it again... we all ran, laughing, strangers suddenly friends, united in our goal to beat the flame to the next stop.
In this way I think the flame did it's work...
We all missed it though! It didn't matter, the morning had been great, it was just a shame that we had to come back down to earth for the rest of the day.