It's almost time for the 2012 Olympic Games to start in London. The Opening Ceremony is just over an hour away as we type this, after which everyone will go to bed, hopefully happy. Then tomorrow (UK time) it's game (or should that be Games?) on.
Today's Dominion-Post editorial reflects a similar theme, beginning thus:
Forget the pre-Olympic worries about security and directionally challenged bus drivers.It's the same every four years. Reporters descend upon the host city a few days before competition begins and look for ways to fill pages and pad out their bulletins. At Athens it was unfinished stadiums, at Beijing it was air pollution, and in London it has been missing security guards and bus drivers who cannot find their way from Heathrow Airport to the Olympic village.Inevitably the concerns prove to be unfounded. In Athens the seating was in place when the crowds filed in. In Beijing the skies miraculously cleared and a host of records was shattered.In London, where the opening ceremony for the 30th Olympic Games began this morning, British troops will fill the gaps left by the security guards who've gone AWOL and it's a penny to a pound that bus drivers will discover a previously unknown talent for map-reading.It is time to turn our attention to the real business of the Games. In the main, Olympic sports do not command the year-round attention of Kiwi fans in the same manner as rugby, football, netball, rugby league or even cricket. But, for two weeks, every four years we are entranced by watching the planet's greatest athletes perform feats the rest of us can only dream of. National pride is a secondary consideration. To older generations the names of Nurmi, Owens, Blankers-Koen, Zatopek, Korbut, Spitz, Comaneci and Lewis are as familiar as the names of Lovelock, Williams, Halberg, Snell, Todd, Ferguson, Loader and Ulmer.Four years ago we were as excited by the performances of Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps as we were by those of the Evers-Swindell twins and Valerie Adams.We got to see Caroline and Georgina Evers-Swindell triumph in a finish so close that TVNZ commentator Peter Montgomery initially placed the Kiwis only third. And we got to see Adams send a 4kg metal ball soaring high into the night sky, before circling the Birds Nest stadium with the New Zealand flag hoisted aloft by her massive arms. But we also got to see two of the greatest individual performances in the 116-year history of the modern Olympics - those of Phelps and Bolt. Phelps, the hyperactive kid who found peace swimming laps, motored relentlessly up and down the Olympic pool to win an unprecedented eight gold medals. The long-legged Bolt won five fewer medals, but, arguably, did so in even more memorable fashion, lurching out of the starting blocks in a tangle of arms and legs like a drunk ejected from a bar, then straightening up and turning to look for his fast-receding rivals.
Goodness; was it only four years ago that the Evers-Swindell twins won a gold medal in a pulsating finish? It seems far longer ago, now that they have retired and largely disappeared from the public eye. How quickly we forget our sporting heroes and heroines.
The Dom-Post's leader writer then looks forward:
Who will excite our imaginations this time? We don't yet know. But two glorious weeks of sport stretch ahead of us in which we will find out.
We will indeed. As well as the performances of the New Zealanders, there is much to anticipate. The Men's 100m race on the track could be the best of all time with a fantastic field trying to knock Usain Bolt off his perch. Michael Phelps will not win as many medals in London as he did in Beijing, simply because he is contesting one fewer event. Kenyans and Ethiopians will dominate middle and long distance running. That's just scraping the surface!
And we'll see more of the 2012 Olympics than any other. Sky TV is providing multi-channel coverage, and those who subscribe are in for an Olympic banquet. Once the Opening Ceremony has been completed, today will be devoted to clearing as much as possible from the MySky disc in anticipation of it getting a pretty good workout in the next few days.