Sunday, August 12, 2012

London Olympics lived up to hopes

I still remember sitting on the runway at Gatwick Airport outside London with my wife on July 6, 2005 as we finished a seemingly once-in-a-lifetime vacation.

Moments before our flight took off for Cleveland, the pilot came on the PA and announced the International Olympic Committee had awarded the 2012 Summer Games to London.

A round of applause ensued through the plane, and shortly thereafter I leaned over to my wife and said, "I want to be there in 2012."

Unfortunately, that dream didn't come to fruition. But it has been a thrill to watch the Olympics these last two weeks nonetheless.

First and foremost, the highlight has been witnessing the United States as our athletes racked up more than 100 medals won, turning a competitive head-to-head competition at the top of the medal count with China into a runaway.

It's also been about emotion, the athletes' tears of joy as the national anthem played as they realized their goals and for a moment reminisced about their journeys.

It's been about the backdrop of one of the world's great cities, as one portion of it - for a while almost forgotten and passed over by time - was revitalized and in turn welcomed the world.

As the world heads back home, London will turn its Olympic venues into a legacy. The Olympic Village will become a residential area. The Olympic Stadium will continue to host track and field, and it appears revered English soccer club West Ham has the inside track to make the facility its new home. The aquatics center will also host events but also open its doors to the public.

There are also plans to open an Olympic Museum there in 2014.

One thing is for sure: When it comes to the Olympics, the thought of taking in the whole experience, my thought in 2012 is the same as it was in 2005.

I want to be there.

Maybe one day, I will.

- Chris Lillstrung | @CLillstrung


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