I am one of those people who can name the host city for every summer and winter Olympics for as far back as I can remember and indeed even further. This past week, our family has dispensed with the dining room table and opted for tv trays, as we recline in front of the foxtel waiting for the next event from London. Somehow we don't feel hypocritical of our new found love for water polo and javelin. We realise that if either of those sports were to grace the screen apart from these 16 days every four years we wouldn't pause a millisecond without scanning for a Seinfeld re-run, but I suppose that is the magic of the Olympics. A lot has changed over the years, I hearken back to the days when the Olympics were a pseudo-amateur contest; it is difficult to see Kobe Bryant and Roger Federer - mercenaries who have sold their bodies for obscene wealth over many campaigns- attempting to fit in with female pole vaulters who toil in anonymity for the single opportunity to try to scale 4 meters for 45th place at the games, proud as can be that they are representing the highest ideals of their nations. It's hard not to feel nostalgic about the games.
I also get sentimental about the places the games were held. The first Olympics I remember as a child was the 72 games in Munich, cheering Mark Spitz on every time he dove in to the pool. I did not understand fully what went on at those games until years later but I knew from the telecast that something sinister had occurred. I was so proud that Canada stepped up to host the games in '76 and people who know me well will be well aware that I will suffer no teasing about the games in Montreal - I feel as though those games in many ways saved the Olympic movement. It wasn't the first time that Canada showed the world how to get along and I know it won't be the last. The '84 winter games in Sarajevo also make me sentimental, I remember how beautiful that country appeared on television and how amazing Katerina Witt was at those games. Later I was appalled to witness the atrocity of war and genocide that Yugoslavia became. It still makes me sad to think of it. Sydney in 2000 was my first introduction to Australia. I remember how hot Sydney looked; I remember watching the triathlon for the first time and seeing Simon Whitfield from Canada sprinting for the Gold Medal - I also remember Cathy Freeman running the 400m wearing some hooded sprint gear as if it was cold. She was amazing and Sydney looked spectacular, hard to believe I would move to Australia 10 years later.
For a family as sport crazy as ours, the stories from the past week in London will form the basis of tales amongst us for years. I imagine I will be telling Malcolm's children about Usain Bolt, Jessica Ennis and with any luck a gold medal for Australian women's basketball (fingers crossed)!