Thousands descended upon Rio for the Olympics last month, and boy was it a spectacle. From the eye-watering display of colours and emotion at the Opening Ceremony to the jaw-dropping performances from the myriad of super talented competitors. Unlike any other games before it, the Rio Olympics felt like a really 21st century Sporting Event. After all, an event whose history that goes back to 1896, always feels a little retro.
The power of the Olympic Games is held within the nostalgia of seeing men and women from across the globe race, swim and throw their way to victory. Every four years, they grace our screens and every time this happens we are transported to all the other instances of watching the Games. Four years is a decent stretch of time and life always seems to have changed irrevocably during this time.
When we watched Mo Farah win his two gold medals, we smiled and laughed with him. But we’d seen it before.
When Nicola Adams retained her boxing title, we clapped and jumped for joy. But we’d seen it before.
This is the paradoxical nature of live sport. It is both ephemeral and concrete. Whilst we are watching it, that is all there is.
The men striving to jump just a few centimetres further have only that small window of opportunity to achieve their goal – and all we can do is watch them.
Perhaps one of them has had a particularly good day leading up to his competition. He has stretched and mentally prepared.
Perhaps, a couple of hours before arriving at the stadium, he took a walk along the white sands of Rio and bumped into a group of street urchins.
Playing football with them, he lost himself in the pure nostalgia of ‘kicking a ball about’ and rediscovered a child like sensation of excitement.
With this feeling of optimism and joy in his heart, he could take his leap of faith and gain that extra centimetre on his competitor, winning himself a medal.
With more than 11,000 athletes taking part in this year’s games, there is a story for each and every one of these intrepid individuals.
For every Ping Pong player, Hammer Thrower and Steeple Chaser there is a loyal group of excitable fans back in their home country, screaming at their screen – urging them on. Every individual has their hopes and dreams of winning, bringing their prize home and treasuring the endless stream of congratulations and acclaim that they will receive.
Regardless of the winner, the losers or the record breakers. This Rio Games belonged, as it always does, to the supporters and viewers.
An estimated 3.6 billion people tuned in to watch the games this year – that’s more than the population of China and India combined. Billions of people watching some sports that they’d never seen before; placing bets, eating dinner, discussing politics. The Olympic Games provide the world with 2 weeks of golden water cooler conversation – an ice-breaker that could aid billions in finding a little more in common with their fellow man.