To inspire a generation is quite an ambitious undertaking, given the not only the fact that to be inspired takes something of great significance and admiration, but also by the fact that a generation is a fair amount of people.
Albert Camus once said “After many years, during which I saw many things, what I know most about morality and the duty of man I surely owe to sport.”
The allegorical connotations between sport and life itself are often drawn upon, and although many people do not consciously realise it, it is clear to see from the past two weeks that everyone feels it. It is one of the many make-ups of the Human Condition to take enjoyment and interest from things which we can associate and empathise with, and the endeavours of the sportsmen and women of an Olympiad reflect that. We all strive to succeed, to progress, to seek happiness and to ease suffering. Or “Higher, faster, stronger”, in other words. When we watched the events of “Super Saturday” unfold, capped for me personally by Mo Farah’s face of agony and ecstasy upon his victorious run, perhaps we imagine him as a reflection of ourselves; the image of what can be achieved. The collective jubilation of a whole nation was present on that evening, with the joy, admiration and inspiration clear to see on the faces and in the words of all those who were witness.
But for Mo, the finish line has not come yet, or as Guinness would say; “he is still waiting”. He still has the 5k to run. The same goes for us, for everyone; there is always another challenge to be undertaken. There are 10, 500 athletes at London 2012, but only 302 gold medals. That means a lot of shattered dreams, a lot of distraught athletes, and a lot of what they might, but hopefully wouldn’t, call “wasted time”. I put the question to you; who else has felt like that in their lifetime? You don’t have to answer.
Personally, I find it hard to watch some of the interviews with the athletes who haven’t come out on top. In those intensely emotional moments, immediately after competition, it is clear to see the disappointment, frustration and sheer despair of someone who has dedicated their life to something, but ultimately – in their eyes – come up short. We of course know different. We have the greatest respect for anyone who has that much commitment, hard work, perseverance and courage to try and fulfil a dream, no matter what the outcome.
The greatest victory London 2012 could have in inspiring a generation would be to show the world how sport can teach us so much about life as a whole. Just as my coach has me doing core exercises to improve my abilities as a bike rider, it could be said that 15 years ago, while kicking a football round a playing field, I was working on my core as a person; Working within a team, working individually, experiencing success and pleasure, but also suffering pain and defeat. Work ethics, sacrifice, compromise, and rather obviously – goals. To some, PE could be thought of extra-curricular, but I believe it’s role within any education system should be an integral one. So where is the inspiration to be taken from; the winning or the taking part? I think, as always, it’s a combination of the two.
I just hope that London 2012 makes the absolute most of this crucial time and is true to it’s “legacy”, in realising that it could contribute not only to a generation of future Gold medallists, but of human individuals.