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London’s Olympic Fever: How We Caught It

We have been mesmerised by the cyclists blazing round the velodrome, we googled confusing Judo terminology and were deeply inspired to develop six packs that can grate cheese … but then we had another beer. We google imaged the Fiji flag bearer – mental note: re-watch Opening Ceremony when the boyfriend’s out – and celebrated in particular our British women who have been swimming, biking and boxing their way through the sport glass ceiling.

Associated benefits

In the early days, Olympics tickets were not gold dust per se, but they weren’t widely available either. There were fears that, thanks to our lovely wet weather, the open-air Olympic arena would become a second swimming venue and people would be forced to trade wads of cash for waterproof ponchos in back alleys. Much of the buzz of winning the opportunity to host the 2012 Summer Games came from the ability to throw up a finger at Paris, something Londoners embrace with a dutiful commitment.

Still for London natives who won’t go to the Games, making those people feel included in the madness is key and not an easy task. To foster that feeling of togetherness, the Olympic events are dispersed across the city and applause has become the new soundtrack to our streets. Suddenly a ride on that dust-caked bike sounds like a brilliant idea and the tourists who clog the escalators are not pests but visitors to a city of which we are incredibly and justifiably proud. An unofficial Olympic twitter account which “scrapes” the ticketing website to look for available places has grown from an IT programmer home project with 70 followers to amassing 40,000 in three days as people scramble for tickets.

Even the Union Jack is having a comeback. A few British flags were limply waved out of car windows two weeks ago and now it seems sacreligious not to rock the red, white and blue. The patriotic tsunami that began with the 2011 Royal wedding, the Jubilee and now the greatest show on earth has given way to frantic flag waving and soaring face paint sales. Still, we British love confidence but detest arrogance, and with the two such close sides of one coin we tend to err on the side of caution and keep our patriotism in check. For example, while one South African swimmer’s dad has become famous for going ballistic on the BBC over his son’s win, a Brtish cyclist’s father quipped after his son’s win that he’d spent the night before laying on his patio to calm his nerves. Even royalty has had an impact on out country’s wins, every event Kate Middleton attended has had spectacular results.

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