Make no mistake, I was a sports fan before the Olympics; but London 2012 changed something within me.
I knew what I was getting into. Making magazines is a team game. Monthlies are good fun and weeklies are a rush with the right team… But a daily?! That was crazy talk. But hard to resist. So I signed on the dotted line and joined a hand-picked team of… Well, I’m still not sure TBH.
Our backgrounds were all very different, but over a year we bonded. We were separated from large parts of the company, stuck in a corner of an open plan office, circling the wagons against outsiders who simply wouldn’t understand what we were trying to achieve. In our eyes, we were like elite athletes attempting to do what everyone said was crazy – a glossy daily programme for every single day of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. To everyone else, a bunch of bigheads soaking up all the resources and attention of the senior management.
As a team, we worked well. Over time we worked out our strategies, everyone had a role to play and everyone pulled together. We developed our own language of timelines and complex work processes. We became expert at these new-fangled Google Docs. We did dummy runs, we tested protocols. We developed in-jokes and nicknames, and all to an Olympics themed soundtrack; at times of great stress our charming, wise Editor David Edwards would simply stop everything, smile and play Louis Armstrong’s We Have All The Time In The World. Again.
These months changed me. It wasn’t simply the weeks spent living away from home working 10+ hour shifts; and it wasn’t even the lasting legacy of self-confidence I was left with having helped pull the impossible project over the line day after day.
The big change came with the way I watch sport.
To this day I find I cannot watch a triathlete/ cyclist/gymnast/swimmer/runner – the list is endless – compete without a tear in my eye. My eyes fill at the sight of a medallist; any colour, it doesn’t matter to me. God help me if I hear an interview with an athlete’s parent recounting the days spent dragging their child to training sessions.
And I blame London 2012. I invested so much, I learnt so much about so many sports and so many athletes it was as if I became part of the team. I genuinely felt a sense of connection with those ‘rings’. And I still do. I will watch live sports beamed from Tokyo and smile indulgently at 13-year-old skaters, admire the control of dressage riders, and simply everything about Tom Daley.
I can’t help it. And nor do I want to.
I honestly love the Olympics and that will stay with me forever.
I still struggle listening to Louis Armstrong though…