The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Coleman Bandy: At the Olympics

July 29, 2012

BLOG: London beaming with pride

The usually busy East London felt like a ghost town.

The fanfare and excitement only escalated throughout last week as the opening ceremony approached. When the time finally came for the ceremony to commence, the pizzas were ordered, the TVs were tuned in, and the city of London braced itself for a historic stint at hosting the 2012 Olympic Games. Save for a few taxi cabs and the occasional passing car, the streets were quiet.

Like everyone else in the London, I was also glued to the TV, excited at the prospect of being so close to the stadium where the ceremony was being held. I sat in my apartment with friends Brendan, Jim, and Jamie — the latter two were born in London — munching on snacks and readying ourselves for the festivities to begin.

On the television, six fighter jets, emitting red, white, and blue streams of smoke, streaked across the sky, representing the host country’s pride and involvement in organizing the games. We quickly rushed to the window, and sure enough, the jets flew overhead, the colored streaks hovering above us in the air. The moment was surreal; I was here, in London, where the whole world was watching. David Beckham, the Queen of England, Paul McCartney, and a slew of other famous Brits were less than a mile away, celebrating one of the biggest events in the world. Although I wasn’t in the stadium, I was with them all in spirit.

For the English, the opening ceremony proved to be inspirational, reflecting on hundreds of years of British history. Jim and Jamie were as excited as anyone, loudly singing their national anthem, cheering at the television as if it could fuel the stadium’s atmosphere even more, belting out “Hey Jude” at the top of their lungs. Being here, surrounded by the culture, has been as much of a learning experience as anything else for me thus far; the people of London are proud of their country, and the ceremony served as a grand example of that pride.

But, now that the opening ceremony has concluded and the torch has been lit, it’s time for the real events to take place: the games. I’ll be attending events on Tuesday through Thursday this week, and I couldn’t be more excited to be part of this culture, this atmosphere. Already, on television, I’ve witnessed the spectacle that was the opening ceremony; now I’m ready to officially be a part of these games, and to be able to watch inspirational stories unfold before my eyes as countries across the world compete.

Today, East London is no longer a ghost town, and the hustle and bustle has returned, perhaps even more so than before. As I walk amongst the greatest athletes in the world in one of the biggest cities in the world, everyone seems ready to be a part of the Olympics. It’s time to begin.

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Coleman Bandy: At the Olympics
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