We tried in every ballot to get child-priced seats for various Olympic events. We failed miserably. When Olympic tickets were put on general sale at the end of May I snapped up four Olympic Park tickets for the first Wednesday of the Games. We wouldn’t be able to get into any venues but we could take the girls and soak up the atmosphere. Dh was working, so the girls and I went with my Mum.
It was a hard concept to explain to R and G. We were going to the place where the Olympics was happening, but we weren’t seeing anything ‘live’. The weather in the morning was decidedly iffy and I wondered what on earth I had let myself in for as we huddled under umbrellas (it’s only the Union Jack when it’s at sea) eating McDonalds (the girls’ first Happy Meals – I’m not sure they were terribly impressed) and gazing up at the big screen in Park Live.
Things brightened up considerably when, courtesy of the women’s rowing team, we won our first Gold medal. The atmosphere grew and it was electric as we watch Bradley Wiggins (Mum’s a big fan) win the road time trial. At that point the girls finally ‘got it’ and G stopped asking when we were going home. Actually, she remained spectacularly unbothered by it all. R got into the spirit of things and started cheering while G played games on my iPad.
We actually managed to have a really good day, thanks to the strategic use of food, ice cream, temporary tattoos, golden Wenlock’s (don’t ask) and electronic devices. Sunshine and success also helped. By the end of the day the girls were strutting through the Olympic Park wearing the Union Flag as a cape and moaned when I said it was time to go home. We’d been there from 10am and finally left at 5.30pm so we made the most of our day passes.
On our way out of the Olympic Park we passed a man doing live interviews for radio. He finished his piece, stuck the microphone in front of me and asked me a series of questions about our day, the Olympic experience, the effect on London, etc. I think I managed to babble convincingly and some poor saps somewhere were subjected to me saying the word amazing 37 times and sounding like I’d been brainwashed by LOCOG.
Next day, the girls told everyone at nursery about their day at the Olympics with Mummy and Nanny. They are really looking forward to going to the Paralympics and R keeps pointing out that we’re going to be seeing stuff ‘For real’ this time.
On a side note, the success of the Team GB women was wonderful to see and, as someone with two daughters it was great that they got to watch hours of women being really good at sport on TV. The sport that we watch tends to be male-dominated (being rugby and cricket fans doesn’t help) and I don’t think there are many healthy, inspirational female role models for girls outside the sporting realm. At certain points the girls demanded to watch sport with girls in and I was happy to let them. I’d much rather they wanted to be Jessica Ennis than Jessica Simpson.
The girls can’t make up their minds which Olympic sport they’d like to take up. On Friday afternoon G declared, while riding her bike around the garden that she’d like to do indoor cycling. The next Laura Trott or Victoria Pendleton? Maybe when she takes the stabilisers off. They are both into gymnastics at the moment, thanks in no small part to the gym classes they are attending in lieu of ballet over the summer. R quite fancies having a go at diving and she and R are already looking forward to starting swimming lessons in September. I reckon the identical twin thing would give them a nice advantage when it came to synchronised diving. There has been a lot of talk about legacy and ‘Inspiring a generation’ I’m not sure that R trying to triple-jump across the dining room was quite what Seb Coe had in mind, but it’s a start.
The girls may not fully appreciate their Olympic experience now, but I hope when they grow up they look back on it fondly and realise that they were part of a once in a lifetime event.