Last night I came across Jerry Seinfeld’s new show, ‘Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee’. In the first episode, Jerry and Larry David talk about how they use the rough term ‘five years ago’ to describe some non-specific time in the past when something significant happened.
I however, use Olympiads.
This time one Olympiad ago, at the last Olympics, I was preparing to watch the opening of the Beijing Games. I was coming home from an ALP fundraiser and feeling quite poorly, but I still stayed up to watch the ceremony. Two days later I was diagnosed with glandular fever, and I watched the entire Games from my bed.
When I say entire Games, I mean entire Games. I saw every Australian medal won, and a lot other random equestrian, handball and fencing ones too.
My leadup to the Beijing Games was typical. I’d bought plenty of special edition books, watched all the talk shows, and devoured the sports pages for weeks. I knew where the torch was every day during the relay. What’s more, I’d even checked out the Bird’s Nest six months before, and bought all the official paraphernalia at the local shops. I was ready for the Olympics.
Fast forward an Olympiad and I am sitting in Dordrecht, catching my breath for a few days after two months of tour guiding and before a week of attending the Games. This trip has been a year in the making and we have the Eurostar booked, secured entry into the famous Holland Heineken House for one night and have tickets for the judo, hockey, athletics, basketball, diving and handball.
My leadup this time has been anything but typical. Southern Europe has seemed completely disinterested in the Olympics and my lifestyle when working isn’t exactly one which gets me home for the six o’clock news. I’ve been all over the place.
Since Sunday, however, when I watched the last stage of the Tour de France, I’ve hit the fast-forward button. I’ve had the BBC on almost full-time. I’ve spent ages on Google Maps working out the way to the Olympic Park, the Excel Centre and the Holland Heineken House. I’ve laughed at the Spanish team’s outfits and tried to show interest in women’s football. I’ve gotten tingles when watching Dutch specials on past 100m finals, the flame being lit and marathons.
Even though the specials show Inge de Bruijn, Pieter van den Hoogenband and the Dutch volleyball team rather than Kieran Perkins, Cathy Freeman and the Oarsome Foursome, I’ve gotten mighty excited.*
I’ve spoken to two primary school classes over Skype in the past week, and they’ve had a hand in it. I thought back four or five Olympiads ago, with my class project on the Olympics in 1996 and my Olympics-themed birthday party in 1992. You never did any work at school during the Olympics. It was two weeks of heaven for an Olympic obsessive like me.
I can’t wait to wander around London on Monday (probably in the rain), checking out the big screens in the squares, the pin swapping in Hyde Park and the Olympic rings on Tower Bridge.
It’s not often that my two passions – sport and travel – combine.
* I’m not the only one who is excited. Paul’s the one who just went out and bought a huge plasma television, convinced we wouldn’t survive the Opening Ceremony with our current tiny telly.