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Months of worry and dread about crowds, security and the weather give way to national pride as Britons bask in the global glow of the Summer Games, writer Charlotte Mountford says.
Photos by:Charlotte Mountford
Country: England

e expected one big Olympic mess. We got ecstasy, euphoria and a ‘Golden Summer’.

We were told to expect two-hour queues for the tube and closed roads in London. The weather would be terrible; we battled with the rain and wondered how on earth the country would cope with the Olympic Games and the sheer numbers of people they would bring to London. Some people were asked to work from home, many simply fled the country, and we dreaded the chaos to come.

The reality, however, has been worlds apart. London has been euphoric yet calm, well-mannered, and the Olympics have been an extremely happy experience for people in the UK.

“There was one moment one morning last week on the Piccadilly line when I feared the worst” says Lucy, 25, who works in central London. “There were lots of people, and the station seemed very busy. But aside from that, the underground has been much more empty than usual during the Olympics. Yesterday, I even got a seat!

“There were so many messages warning us about overcrowding,” she continues. “But it hasn’t been the case — Oxford Street, one of the busiest streets in London, has been very quiet — the shops are dead!”

That could be because here in Britain, we have all been inside, glued to the Games on the television, or watching from the big screens in Hyde Park. And of course, those lucky enough to have tickets to the events have filled the Olympic Stadium and other Olympic venues around the country.

“Super Saturday was a highlight for me” says Andrew, 30. “The UK won six gold medals in just one day! On the other hand we didn’t do quite so well in the football,” he laughs, “that was a low point.”

“I couldn’t believe the UK got a Bronze for gymnastics — for gymnastics!” says Kate, 32. “I thought that was amazing. But the false start system in track athletics does seem so harsh to me. One false start and you are out of the race after four years training! What agony that must be.” Generally, the mood in the UK has gone from extreme pre-Games pessimism to euphoric national pride.

“I feel like the Olympics have put Britain back on the map, in a way” adds Kate, “it has been called a Golden Summer, perhaps not in terms of constant sunshine,” she laughs, “but definitely in the number of gold medals won by Team GB, and in national spirit! And when you think about the terrible riots and disorder in London last summer… It’s like a different city, a different nation.”

And there was something for everyone during the Olympics season, sports aside. Arts and culture have blossomed in the city during the Olympics with the London Festival 2012, a cultural celebration. In Grosvenor Square in Mayfair, games of the more intellectual variety have been set up, and young professionals play chess or chequers on giant boards on the grass during their lunch breaks. You can sit and listen to live jazz or a string quartet from the comfort of a deck chair, for free. Equally new bars and restaurants have popped up around the city, screening the Games, adding to the fun festival atmosphere in the city.

“I am not a particularly sporty guy,” says Teddy, 28, “but I really enjoyed watching those Russian volleyball girls playing on the courts. Their legs are endless, it’s an inspiration. I am considering taking up volleyball myself!”

Hopefully the toned, lithe, athletic forms of the Olympic competitors will inspire people around the world. Sport has never looked cooler. The UK government hopes to capture the energy and glamour of London 2012 and turn it into a permanent good and that part of the legacy of London 2012 will be inspiring young people to do more sport and lead healthier lives.

We thought the Olympics were going to be hell, but they have been heaven on earth. We dreaded their arrival; but now, nobody wants them to end.




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The Olympic Games in London .

England prepared for the prestigious Olympic Games for months. Britons worried about crowds of people, security and transportation problems and the weather. People were asked to walk to work and even work from home. Many decided to leave London to escape the chaos. They expected the worst; what they didn’t expect was a tranquil city during the games. And they most definitely didn’t expect to score a ‘10’!

Overall, the Olympics was an extremely happy experience for people in the UK. The streets weren’t crowded; neither was the metro. Everyone was home watching the events on their televisions! The people not watching their televisions were the lucky ones with tickets to the Olympic stadium.

The mood in the UK changed from pre-Games pessimism to one of extreme national pride as they continued to win medals in various events. In one day, they won 6 gold medals! Britons are calling it a “Golden Summer” because of all the gold medals they won and for national spirit. Last summer there were terrible riots and disorder. This summer the UK seems to be a completely different nation.

As one UK citizen said, “I feel like the Olympics have put Britain back on the map”. And for many people in the UK this is a special feelings- one of global importance and pride.

 

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