Basking in the glow of gold

19:40, Aug 07 2012

We were there at Eton Dorney on Thursday. Sitting up in the stand, all quiet and tense and not too far from the finish line. It's a long, long way to the far end of the course.

We watched the start on the big TV screen opposite, till the rowers came into view. New Zealand was in front and we all went nuts. Jumping to our feet, and yelling. Nothing lady-like about my screams, either.

There were about 100 Kiwis around about us, all calling "Kiwi, Kiwi, go Kiwi go". Joe and Nathan just powered over the line and we did a kissing and hugging round. I kissed and hugged anyone who was dressed in black.

The medal ceremony was also very special. The national anthem was played (painfully slowly). It gave us time to really realise what our boys had done. A purely golden moment.

And then a haka. The really nice thing was that everyone around us, the Brits and the Aussies seemed quite pleased for us, too.

And on Friday, we repeated the whole process all over again, and twice within the hour. What a special day to see our team win two golds.


Sports Minister Murray McCully is in London and joined the excitement and congratulations.

The international rowing community really wanted Mahe to win after his courageous efforts in Beijing.

He is so highly respected. And Eric and Hamish - what a reputation they have. None of us dared voice the unthinkable that they could only lose if they had gear failure.

We put such pressure on our athletes and they in turn put such pressure on themselves. But nothing went wrong and we could realise their dreams with them, in the sun, in London.

For the first five days, team Great Britain just couldn't win a gold. The smiles on the faces of the volunteers got more and more fixed. Despair set in. The traffic congestion was seemingly unbearable. The ticket sales were a disgrace. Queues got longer. Nothing was right.

Then their gold rush began. Team Great Britain steadily climbed in the medal chart. They won the expected and the unexpected gold medals. And on super Saturday there was the amazing feat of six gold medals for GB in 24 hours. Wow.

The mood of the city became buoyant and there was a new tolerance to the traffic congestion. Tickets were easier to get. Genuine smiles and cheeky repartee from the volunteers made it fun to be out and about. Queues seemed shorter and strangers became best friends. Crowded carriages on the underground were fun places to be. Trumpets blew. Hugs were frequent and liberally applied.

Exhilaration and jubilation drove 200,000 spectators to line the route of the triathlon and the marathon. They clapped politely for us lesser mortals, but unleashed full bodied roars for everyone in Great Britain colours. Unscripted pure joy from live broadcasts. The Brits have loosened up. They are just loving being hosts.

British Post has released stamps depicting each gold medallist the day after their victory. A post box in every gold medallist's home town is painted gold in their honour.

It seemed it was all history repeating itself. The 1948 “austerity” Olympic Games in London were credited with cheering the population after the horrors and deprivations of the war years. And now after years of threatening recession from the unrelenting Euro crisis, it seems the 2012 London games are having the same effect.

The Marlborough Express