Like much of the country, I’m coming to grips with the notion that I live in an Olympic powerhouse. I mean, jeez—at the end of today Britain was third in Gold medals, and fourth overall. WTF? Much of it is the usual—rowing, cycling, “sitting down sports,” as someone said. Well, true enough, but if you backed out the American swimming medals, where would the US stand? There’s been a bit of disappointment today, since the medal haul seems to have come to a temporary halt, but no matter. It’s still a better performance than Beijing, and in a broad enough range of events to suggest that whoever is running things is actually doing a good job. So everyone is pretty happy.
Actually, things seem to be going so smoothly, touch wood, that it won’t be long before we start seeing some suggestions that the Olympics be held in London all the time. I wouldn’t mind. Everyone visiting seems to be having a great time. And the Londoners, and other Britons who are coming, are having such fun that ticket sales for the Paralympic Games, set to start at the end of August, have suddenly soared. In part it’s because tickets for that event are just easier to get; but also the fact that everyone who goes out to Olympic Park wants to go back again. We have no more tickets for this one—but we’re going back at the end of the month.
So we, like much of the country, have been couch potatoes over this week, and it’s been fine. Of course, one of the problems with this is that no one is gong to the shops to spend money, so the merchants are pleading with people to get out and shop, as is Boris Johnson, as is David Cameron. Both have been present at a number of events, so they can hardly talk. As has the Royal Family—either Will or Kate or Harry has been to just about everything, and Princess Anne had the delightful task of being able to present a Silver Medal to her daughter Zara.
At the moment I’m watching a handball match between two powerhouses, Croatia and Tunisia, and mourning the loss of Iceland. Iceland looked as if it was track for a Gold Medal here, which would have been their first Gold medal in anything, after winning a Silver Medal in Handball in Beijing. We saw them dominate Sweden, and they came into today undefeated, and on a roll. The FT even had an amusing article about the philosophical musings of Iceland’s best player. And what happens? They get knocked out by Hungary, 34-33.
Tunisian is the African champion, and really does play the game as if it were Rugby. At the moment, though, Croatia is ahead.
There are lots of feel good stories all over the place about these games—the long distance runner Mo Farah being one of the best. The British team is of course pretty diverse, given the number of members from commonwealth countries whose families immigrated here at some point, and Farah is a case in point. His victory in the 10,000 meter was thrilling. And the British team has acquitted itself well overall in terms of demeanor, unlike, say, the Australian rower who got drunk and trashed a bar, or the sourpusses of the Russian and Romanian gymnastics teams, who couldn’t find a smile between them. Then there are the predictable but infrequent disasters. One delight, however, comes from a very surprising source. The Evening Standard had a story this evening about the American basketball team that just warms my heart. They’ve discovered public transportation. And love it. Good for them.
And Croatia wins, 25-23, and is into the semi-finals against France, the defending Olympic champs. Should be a great game!
The stamps above are some of the many, many stamps the Royal Mail is issuing in honor of the Olympics. Including a stamp booklet for each and every gold medal winner, with their picture. My collection will be overflowing!