Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Olympic Torch Relay, So what ?

Hot on the heels of the The Queen's Jubilee, Royal Regatta, yet another build up to yet another "Major" event in Henley a few weeks back. Olympics 2012!!! Schools, I suppose were the leaders in the build up, with Olympic themed activities and events prepping the kids up and setting the mood.

I saw sign boards, announcing that the Henley bridge will be closed between 6 AM and 11 AM and we need to make alternative arrangements, announcements of temporary road closure, etc.

I started planning my alternatives, moaning to myself, its just Olympics, you will get one every four years. While I totally respect the athletes, their dedication to the sport and life long preparation to compete at the highest levels possible etc, I do not appreciate the "hype" around the event.

I have watched with indifference and dare I say, strong dislike towards the people who line up the streets, potentially giving up a days work to just stand by and wave and cheer. I would say "What a bunch of losers".

As the big day for Henley, July 10th drew closer, we got a letter from Vibhu's school saying that we need to drop him at a place near Rowing museum at 8:15 AM!!! Almost an hour earlier than the normal School time, coupled with the road closures and other things, Rema decided to take a day off and I decided to work from home, so that I can drop him in the morning, Rema can hang around, and I can use the opportunity to get my car MOT done.

On July 9th I reluctantly decided, that I will hang around for some time, at least try and get some pictures of the torch.

I am glad, I did that. It was an eye opening experience for me. People had turned up in their thousands, and there was a carnival sort of atmosphere, 8 AM on a WEEKDAY!!!!

I met a Gentleman and his charming young grandson. They were trying to find answers to trivia about Olympics, and Olympic torch etc. I offered to help, did not know the answers, and did what all smart people do, pulled out my iPhone and  Googled up! Did you know the Olympic torch has 8000 holes and guess what, there are 8000 people carrying the torch ? Did you know Great Britain had won about 145 gold medals in 1908?

We came to know that it would be Sir Steve Redgrave, a supreme athlete carrying the flame. Sir Steve Redgrave won Olympic gold for rowing, FIVE consecutive times (more information here). To put that number in perspective, that's 20 consecutive years of peak performance! Now that's consistency for you!

He was out there at around 8:30 AM practicing with a young crew who earned the honor of rowing with him. That spoke volumes and showed me what champions are made of, practice, practice and more practice. It was heartening to see him share his experience and give some lessons to the young crew, what an opportunity!!

In total, seven torchbearers ran the flame through Henley, including Sir Steve Redgrave.

The other person I managed to get a picture of is Mr Mark Chesterton a Head Teacher in one of the schools in Oxford, he earned the honor of carrying the torch through his dedicated service and contribution to the local community.

You can find the stories behind the torch bearers here

It dawned on me that it was an opportunity for us to participate, engage and feel part of something big! On top of that, its a nice break and a change in our daily routine. I am glad, I decided to go, and stand on the sidelines, and cheer, for I got an opportunity to learn more about me.

More photos can be viewed here.