It has finally arrived. Years of waiting and planning – miles of newsprint and millions of webpages on the subject – are over. It’s the Olympic Games London 2012.
The official slogan for the Games is “inspire a generation”. “It is the heartbeat, the very DNA of this organisation and a rallying cry for the athletes to come to the UK to perform at their very best and inspire the world,” said Lord Coe.
Yet on the face of it, we might be lining ourselves up for a gold medal in overblown hype and disorganisation. After all our headlines have been full of stories of the security company that couldn’t find enough security guards.
Then there was the toe-curling moment when someone put the wrong Korean flag up on a screen the size of a two-storey house.
There have been traffic jams and disagreements over, well, just about everything including who can use the iconic rings logo and where you’ll be able to buy chips.
Even Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney doesn’t think things will go our way – and therefore the way of the sports men and women.
He said: “It’s hard to know how it will turn out. There are a few things that were disconcerting, the stories about the private security firm not having enough people, supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials, that obviously is not something which is encouraging.”
The point of the games seems to have been obscured by all this negative noise. It’s crucial we get back to the main message – inspiring a generation – for the sake of our children.
Because what’s really happening is more than 10,000 athletes from 203 countries are getting together to compete at the highest level possible. They are fighting it out for some 2100 medals of all colours in 46 venues. That’s impressive stuff.
Every single one of those competitors has lived and breathed their sport for years. Training and battling for a chance to represent their countries in the greatest event on earth. The effort and commitment is astonishing.
And among the tracksuits and trainers there are heart-warming and inspiring stories – hundreds of them. People who have defeated unbelievable disadvantage to get to London, today.
This is what it’s all about – tenacity, courage and vision. And this is what I want our young people to see, not carping about what a politician may or may not have said.
Surely for the sake of our children – ripe to be inspired – these grumps and grumbles should be silenced so the true Olympic spirit can be heard.
Our teenagers might not be the next star of track and field, but seeing how others through grit and willpower have achieved marvellous things can serve to inspire.
Michelle Obama, leading the American Presidential delegation to the Games, admitted that she was inspired to great things by Olympic Games of her youth.
She said: “Some of my fantastic memories growing up, and even as an adult, involved watching the Olympics on TV.
‘I was just in awe of these athletes and my family, we would sit together for hours watching these men and women perform feats of endurance, speed and grace that would have us cheering at the top of our lungs. I’m still so inspired.”
Let the Games commence.