'The important thing in life is not victory but combat; it is not to have vanquished but to have fought well.'
- Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the International Olympic Committee
After a 2016 which had, until a few weeks ago, been largely punctuated by negative headlines, scaremongering, political musical chairs and some of the scariest rhetoric I think I've heard in my lifetime, there's no doubt that we were all in dire need of something to be cheerful about. Thank goodness, then, for the Olympics- and more specifically the incredible achievements of Team GB. After the unforgettable scenes of London 2012, I'm sure I'm not the only one who thought that the accomplishments of the team at a home games couldn't be surpassed. Without a home advantage could we still hold our own?
(Whisper it)- of course we could.
There's no doubt that London 2012 will forever loom large in out collective consciousnesses as the most spectacular bookend to an outstanding summer. That incredible Opening Ceremony, where Shakespeare sat alongside Song 2 and sheer spectacle combined with storytelling to paint a poignant picture of a green and pleasant land with a self depreciating sense of humour and lion heart enough ready to welcome the world. Performances which more than lived up to expectations, and images which became as iconic as those five burnished Olympic rings skimming the sky high above Statford, forged by fire, grit, determination and hard work.
Now more than ever before we live in an age of instant gratification, where all too often a measure of success is intangible, fleeting- and something which is largely superficial in nature, based purely on constructed appearance. At the start of the summer you could scarcely watch the news without reports of division, resignation, self serving and enough machinations to make Game of Thrones look like a game of Scrabble. Far better they settle all of that infighting with a sprint over 100 metres and be done with it.
Watching the incredible achievements of Team GB over the last 16 days has been more than inspirational, and has served as a much needed reminder of the rewards of commitment , team work and not putting limits on what you can accomplish. Not giving up when you're 3-2 down in a penalty shoot out for the Hockey Gold Medal. Breaking World Records over and over again just because you can. Coming back from illness, injury and adversity to achieve something which once seemed completely impossible. Powering your way to the finish line after falling over during your race. Reaching out your hand to help your brother, as well as your brothers (and sisters) in arms. What better life lessons are there than these?
In short, thank you Team GB for once again giving us something to be proud of. #BringontheGreat (and bring on the Paralympics!)
Have you enjoyed the 2016 Olympics?
(Image credit: Team GB.)