There are symphonies of sport that hum throughout the year. Each discipline has its own stars and offers fans unforgettable moments of human triumph. However, there is only one grand crescendo where all these diverse strains come together into an explosion that leaves the senses reeling.
It’s actually quite unimaginable in the modern sporting world for someone like a Roger Federer being rated on the same plane as our own silver winner Vijay Kumar. However, in the Olympics both earned equal honours, both brought their nations the same amount of sporting success. Only in the Olympics, where Usain Bolt dazzled the world with his Beijing 100m run, was he at par with Abhinav Bindra’s gold. Feats may differ but the value of that medal is the same. It’s the one platform where all sports are weighed in the same balance, offer the same final reward. For this very reason the Olympics is a great leveller.
For sports journalists the Olympics is the pinnacle of all assignments. From the outside to readers it may appear to be the best of jobs — after all if one is being paid to write on Bolt creating history; one really can’t complain. However, the Olympics are a wringer, a brutal event with crazy logistics which saps one physically and emotionally.
London has been no different. However, what made these Games so enriching has been the smiles. London does not have everything running like clockwork. British efficiency is no patch on Chinese methodical functioning. Here they are more laid back, easy going. Strangely enough just that bit has made these Games so much more endearing.
The cutting edge
The volunteers who form the backbone of the Games are not just helpful, they are wonderful characters. Their individuality and their pride in what they are doing is the one bit that uplifts the spirit in the chaos that writing on the Olympics is all about.
From the robotic efficiency of the Chinese to the apathetic chalta-hai of too many folks during the Delhi Commonwealth Games, the English volunteers are a bunch of beaming happy people who shrug off rudeness with a smile and accommodate the demands of a working journalist with the kind of flexibility one has not encountered before. The most enduring image of these Games for your correspondent will be the helpful nature of the regular guys who stand hours on end at their posts but still beam a welcome.
London has one of the world’s most intricate rail networks connecting different far flung areas of the city. In order to make it to three venues in a day trains are the best way. Unravelling that maze can be a nightmare for someone who is in a hurry but is new to the city. That’s where the helpful folks meaning the stations come in. So many people have gone out of their way to suggest quickest possible routes and guide one to the right train that one has lost count. Then, there is the London crowd. At arena after arena, these people participate in the action in a manner that one has seldom witnessed before. The ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ with the corresponding ‘boos’ and yelling, made the vibe of live sporting action come alive like never before. Of course one will never forget Bolt run that 100m or Leander Paes and Vishnu Vardhan playing like a pair possessed but people will stay the most enduring memory of the London Games.