As someone who lives barely 10 miles outside London, it was all very up close and personal, although I didn't have any tickets.
In a way, it was even more personal for me than it was for many who did get to see the events. The main reason -- I was an "Olympic Widow".
My significant other, Paul, was well and truly in the thick of it for the past four weeks. I only got him back today.
Yep, Paul spent nearly four weeks in Weymouth, covering the Olympic sailing. (And causing havoc with a mobility scooter...allegedly.)
He brought back some images you didn't really see much on TV. (If at all) Like this:
It's the cauldron in Weymouth -- and I've never once seen it on TV. If he hadn't taken a photograph (or three) of it, I wouldn't have known it was there.
Yes, that's the Olympic Flame -- right there.
Or the Olympic rings, out in the water.
Or how about the flags, lining the beach?
Then there are shots of his "Work Environment"
Those are just a few images I've seen, but I thought I'd share a few of them with you.
The Olympics were simply awe inspiring.
Not just because of all the medals won, the world records smashed to smithereens. Not just because of spectacular festivities and venues.
But because of the sheer number of people who came out to watch, support and cheer on every single athlete, regardless of nationality.
I've seen and heard people cheer for cyclists they'd never heard of. They waved at the leader as much as the last trailing rider. It didn't matter where they were from, or if they stood a chance to get anywhere near a medal. They took part -- and therefore the people got behind them and screamed encouragement as they pushed themselves to their absolute limit.
They braved everything from thunderstorms, hail, torrential rain and gale force winds -- just to be there, to cheer as loud as they could, wave flags and give their unfailing support to any athlete taking part. Especially in those conditions. Together they created an atmosphere many, many of those athletes later commented on with a sense of utter awe--and gratitude.
When asked what they'll remember most, the first words out of almost every athlete's mouth were "The roar of the crowd as I went past. It felt amazing."
If you've watched the women's road cycling race -- you'll know what I'm talking about.
The weather was atrocious that day, and from one who braved the weather...let me tell you...if you set foot outside the door, it felt like standing in a cold shower cranked up full blast. You were soaked to the bone in seconds and there was no hope of getting dry. We had hail that day, and still the crowds lined over 100 miles of road, armed with rain coats, flasks of tea, soggy sandwiches, umbrellas -- and in fine spirits and even finer voice. They stood there for hours and yelled those cyclists along as they passed in mere seconds.
For me, it was an experience I'll never forget. To see a country go from utter apprehension (trust me, we weren't keen on all the disruption), apathy even, to a place gripped with Olympic fever...it was truly amazing.
Lord Coe said "London 2012 is the Olympics for the people." during his opening ceremony speech.
In the closing ceremony, he amended his statement. "London 2012 were the Olympics BY the people."
There were smiles everywhere. Cheers and tears for winners and non-winners. (I refuse to call them losers, because they are not. Everyone gave their absolute best. Except those idiots who didn't try.)
When the Brazilians, who'd taken over Somerset House in London, were asked what they thought they'd have a hard time beating in Rio in 2016, they unanimously said "The atmosphere. The enthusiasm and boundless energy of the British people who came out in droves to support not just their own teams, but everyone's teams."
It was worth being cut off from my horse for 4 days because all the roads were closed. I moaned about it. I really wasn't happy that (had anything happened) they wouldn't let a vet through if needed.
They still need to address such things, but now that it's over, I don't mind so much.
I think when that cauldron was extinguished on Sunday night, there wasn't a single person who didn't have a lump in their throat. All of a sudden it was over. Just as we got really into the swing of things.
After all this time, after all the hassle to get to the point of it all being ready, after battling for tickets and missing out, after putting up with Olympic lanes and traffic disruption and nothing on the telly except sport -- I think we wouldn't have minded if the Olympics lasted four weeks instead of two.
I heard stories about what happened after those medals were won -- but I won't tell. ;)
If you saw an abruptly ended interview with one of the sailors...I know the reason why they couldn't continue. (And I'm still giggling...)
Let the Paralympics roll on. I guarantee it'll be cheered on as much as the games just past.
I'll be watching. I'll be cheering.
So, after all that...what did I get out of it?
The biggest fridge magnet you've EVER seen!
(Yes, that is really a magnet, and it won't fit on there sideways. LOL.)
I hope you enjoyed the Olympics as much as I did, and that you'll help us Brits (and almost Brits) cheer on the athletes taking part in the 2012 Paralympic Games on the 29th August. :)