My First Olympic Memories

Tokyo. Sunday 1st September 1991. My first real interest in Athletics and anything remotely 'Olympics' ignited by Great Britain overcoming the mighty USA 4x400m quartet in the final action of the World Championships. My Dad had it on the TV and it looked magical. The spectacle for a 7 year old watching that on a Sunday morning in his pyjamas still remains vivid. That stadium, the track, and those colours under lights. The gradual cranking up of the intensity in a 4x400m relay still excites me and deserves its place as the final fill for an Athletics fan. 30 years on and I am feeling a bit giddy again....even though I know it won't be the same without fans.

Writing this, it has dawned on me that out of the 4 in that GB team, I have met 3 of them. I met Kris Akabusi the next year on one of those events that brought sports stars into schools. I am pretty sure that we had to do a sponsored circuit training and we got a free skipping rope if we earned more than a tenner.  The next year I am pretty sure that it was Jet from Gladiators that got the privilege.  More recently, I met Roger Black at a family wedding and we chatted about his experience of the event over a glass of red and what a lovely bloke he is! Oh and I met Derek Redmond in a McDonalds at a M1 service station on the way up to Newcastle in 1996. Just John Regis to complete the set....

Barcelona 1992 was the first Games that I really remember latching on to. The Opening Ceremony sort of passed me by and back then I was just desperate for the sport to start to be honest. However, I do remember the "lighting" of the Olympic flame by a flaming arrow and Freddie Mercury's 'Barcelona' being played a lot! 

At this point it was really the Athletics that I was most intrigued by so that was what dominated the TV. Linford Christie, Sally Gunnell taking golds. More relay medals for the 4x400 boys, and then the girls too. Steve Backley and Akabusi taking individual bronzes too. I remember getting the "Every Boys Handbook" and "Olympics '92" ladybird book for Christmas the year before and obsessing over the World Records so seeing the likes of Jan Zelezny, Javier Sotomayor, Heike Drechsler, and Jackie Joyner-Kersee was exciting too. Then the intensity of the Men's Long Jump final between Carl Lewis and Mike Powell, and then how close the Women's 100m final was too. Wow. Oh and Gail Devers' nails were a hot topic between the women in my family too for the rest of the 90s. How did she manage to start so fast with those talons? Frankie Fredericks and Merlene Ottey! Legends! The British team merch was different class too. Need to get my hands on some of that!

From then on, I was hooked. Atlanta, 4 years later, wasn't great for Brits but I knew more and coverage was wider so I explored what else was on offer. It has escalated since. 

Now, I still see The Olympic Games as an education. New sports, new narratives, new personalities, new countries, new struggles to learn about. An education for humans by humans. 

I cannot wait to continue my education over the next 2 and a half weeks.

Which Games was your first?

Which are your 'go-to' sports?

Who has achieved 'Icon' status for you? 

Have you been to a Games? 

Ah man. Sport is bloody great isn't it?!