Monday 17 December 2012

Where were you when....?

Every year one of the most respected broadcasting corporations in the world, the BBC, announce their Sports Personality of the Year, voted for by the public. This Olympic year, this British Olympic year, the individuals who didn't make the list could have easily been triumphant in any other year except this one. The standard was so high that double Olympic gold medalists were overlooked.

But the entire list was one filled with athletes that commanded respect, had gone on a journey, that had broken records, that became some of the most powerful role models imaginable, had finally fulfilled a dream, had finally catapulted a Briton to the top of their sport, or even just broke through excellence never seen in their sport before now.
These were people who had inspired every generation in the country.

So what seems like the yearly round up of sport, to end all round ups, may have well have been fitting for the end of the world... what a way to go out!
It was less of a question of who do you want to win, but with every athlete, every achievement, every moment summarised and remembered, more the question of: "Where were you when...?"

I still can't believe for me what an incredible sporting year it was. My love, my passion, my hobby, my job, sport for me, more than any other year was like a dream and what's even more incredible is when someone asks me: "Where were you when it all happened?" In a few cases I have the privilege of saying, "I was there".

As I've mentioned before, I'm a life long Chelsea FC fan. Since the age of about 5, I dreamt of going to see my team play at Stamford Bridge. This year, I went to see them again during the group stages of their European adventure and while not in Munich, was on the Fulham Road, home of the club, to see Chelsea lift the Champions League for the first time in our history. Amazing!
Picking up every highlight, I sat anxiously watching the Tour de France, having been to Paris the previous year, I watched the man who learned to ride his bike competitively in the very velodrome I sit on the trust board of, ride to victory in the biggest cycling event on the planet. The first time for a Briton ever to wear the yellow jersey in Paris. After le Tour was done I would run to watch the riders come speeding past in the closing stages of the Olympic road race and time trial. What a ride. What rides!
I watched to see unfolding before our eyes, British Cycling deliver even more golds in the velodrome where I volunteered in the Olympic test event. Sir Chris, my cycling hero, a fellow Scot and more importantly fellow Brit, becomes the most successful British Olympian ever. Sarah Story would follow with record equalling rides on track and road to tie with Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson's modern Paralympic record. Incredible!
The rowing, where for the first time British females, took home gold from an Olympics. I had the privilege of knowing I had been even a tiny part of the team in LOCOG as an Intern with the rowing competition team 2 years before. I sat glued to the television where finally, finally, Kath Grainger, the stalwart of the women's rowing team, found her silver lining turn to gold. Wow!
A golfer since a young girl in Scotland, I was out of my seat during the Miracle of Medinah. The putts that took your breath away and elation to be European. At times I couldn't watch what was unfolding in front of me except peeking through my hands, that would cover my eyes from something I couldn't believe was actually happening, that we had won. Breathtaking!
How do you put into words, when a British man conquers a sport like Ben Ainslie in the Sailing, when a country embraces disability sport like never before in history, or when a British woman becomes the first ever in her sport - Boxing at the Olmypics, gold for Nicola Adams?
In the Tennis we watched Andy Murray grow into himself, a pheonix from the ashes of an emotional Wimbledon final defeat, to come back to the same ground as an Olympian and conquer it. Olympic champion, the seeds were sewn for a nail biting US Open final - how could I go to bed? He finally became the first British man since Fred Perry to win a men's singles major. Astonishing!

Then there was 'that Saturday'. 04.08.12, 21:00pm, the evening session and 46 minutes of incredible sporting drama. Jessica Ennis, in her final event of the Heptathlon, with the biggest welcome roar I've ever heard. Mo Farah, a wall of sound like a Mexican wave moving around the Olympic Stadium and all of a sudden across the other side of the stadium, a massive noise, cue Greg Rutherford.
3 British Olympic golds, where was I? I was there, in the stadium. Just Phenomenal!

Words don't do justice to what a privilege it has been to be British, to be a Londoner, to be a sportswoman, to be there. How do you ever top that? Will we ever see a sporting year like this again?
Not likely.

I can't see how you would ever top this year, except maybe this...
When you have challenges ahead yourself, maybe your time is next?

There's being there and then there's your definition of being there, actually taking part as an athlete.

It's impossible to ever forget 2012...

...but bring on 2013 and 2014!

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