Olympics through the eyes of a child

When London won the Olympic bid back in June 2005, I wasn’t even pregnant. The bid was based around the theme of inspiring a generation, but little did I have imagine that on Day 1 of the London 2012 Olympics I’d be witnessing the realisation of that dream with my own sons.

N, who has just turned 6, and T, who is two months off his 4th birthday, have had the most incredible day. They’d been packed off to bed last night with the promise of being able to watch the opening ceremony the next morning, and as N appeared just before 7am his first words were “Have the Olympics started?” closely followed by “Who lit the flame?”

We snuggled up on the sofa and watched the rerun of the ceremony, from the point at which the Nigerian athletes entered the stadium.  I was made to find each nation on the globe (failing on quite a few of the Oceanic Islands!).  T appeared in time to witness the beautiful spectical of the Dove Bikes, which he has christened “The Parrot Bikes” –  one of the highlights of his day.

Olympics through the eyes of a child - Dove bikes cycling with white wings at the London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony

Parrot Bikes

They both then held their homemade Olympic torches as the 7 young athletes chosen to represent the future of GB sport lit the flames.  I hadn’t quite realised how much they’d taken in about the Games (they were regaling facts about the Greek history and the Olympic rings),  or how excited they were about it.

The first event we sat down to watch was obviously the Mens Road Race.  The boys are so aware of the Team GB riders as a result of the Tour de France, and T kept getting confused that the Australian cyclists in yellow weren’t Bradley Wiggins!  We witnessed the amusing footage of most of the cyclists stopping to relieve themselves against a hedge, followed by the type of conversation you have with your kids that you just couldn’t make up.

N sucks his thumb,  a habit we are trying and failing to get him to give up.  He also enjoys picking leaves out of hedges as he walks along the road.  Inevitable, therefore, that soon we are discussing how disgusting it would be be to suck your thumb after picking the leaves that Bradley Wiggins had wee’ed on. As he has to cycle such long distance in training it wouldn’t be surprising if he comes as far as our house, thus meaning all the hedges round us are now deemed by the boys as at risk of being used as a public convenience by the Tour de France winner.  Obviously having two boys the conversation deteriorated beyond that, but I’ll leave that to your imagination!

There was no way we could expect them to watch the whole event, and we discovered just how great the BBC’s coverage of the London 2012 Olympic Games is.  We started off with the rowing and over the day worked our way through all the sports available, returning to the cycling every so often to be reassured that Team GB knew what they were doing!

We discovered that sports involving balls don’t hold a childs attention long enough for us to watch an entire match.  They were happy to watch the handball, volleyball, beach volleyball, tennis, football and basketball until they’d understood what was going on, but then quickly clamoured for a change of station.

The most popular choices were the ones they, as kids, could relate to. The gymnastics lasted on our screen for almost an hour – by far the most successful sport of the day.  As they have tried to hold onto bars and rings at the playground, and love doing forward rolls, they were captivated by the mens teams.   Fencing and archery were the sports of knights so got a reasonable viewing, and the swimming was a real shock to the system, with the amazing underwater shots helping N to finally understand why we are always telling him to kick!  Judo was a joy for them – rough and tumble as an official Olympic sport!

The surprise successes of the day were the women’s weightlifting (guessing which would be able to lift the weight of daddy) and the archery (the scoring being easily understandable to them).   The rowing and boxing were also popular, with husband C having a new role as human punchbag for the boys.

Equestrian Dressage was the only dud of the day, prompting the question “Is this sport?” and T asking why they were riding donkeys at the Olympics!

Today they’ve also learnt the hard lessons of shattered dreams – the failure of Mark Cavendish and the rest of the peloton to catch up with the leading group in time for the sprint down the Mall didn’t really sink in until after the end of the race.  Seeing a weightlifter failing on all three attempts finally brought home to them the disappointment sport can bring.

We’ve ended the day by counting up the number of sports they’ve seen today – a grand total of 17.  With the boys desperate to stay up to watch more, and asking when the Taekwondo, running and water polo start, the first day of London 2012 has certainly delivered on its promise to inspire a new generation.

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