Living in London, one gets accustomed to international stages. Just in the recent two years millions of eyes
fell in love with Will and Kate and then cheered at the Queen’s Jubilee. However, with the Olympics and the Paralympics, the focus now moved to individuals, every day British, Americans and others, taking the center stage. As the torch traveled through the UK, we saw international flags drape the streets, historical areas turned into sporting venues and British pride challenging our own red, white and blue energy. And when the torch finally arrived into London on the 26th, any apprehensive cloud on the games lifted and
we all knew we would be living a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The energy in the air became contagious. Sitting at the opening ceremonies, British industrial, literature and
cultural eras evolved before our eyes while in the stands the Brits cheered for Americans, the Americans for Russians and everyone for the 4 member “No Country” athletes. We stood proudly to see the Americans parade in, roared when the “Queen” parachuted down and teared at the tribute to terrorist victims, thinking of our own deep scars.
In the following days, the streets became alive with energy and pride for every country and athlete. When British athlete, Jessica Ennis, clinched the gold, a rumble could be heard from Liverpool to Tower Bridge. When Michael Phelps swam to his 18th gold, thousands of spectators followed every stroke on the big screens in Hyde Park. And while you were sitting at home attached to your TV, sports that perhaps you
never followed such as shooting or dressage became as intense as World Series Game 7 bottom of the 9th inning.
Yet, the excitement was not just for the athletes. Over 70,000 people volunteered their time to ensure that attendees were enthusiastically welcomed and that they left with warm memories. AWC London member Marianna Sheehan dedicated over 14 shifts to welcome athletes at Heathrow Airport. “I saw some of the events, visited the Olympic Park twice but this extended exposure to the Olympics from a different perspective could not be beat. I saw a number of the people I greeted on TV at both the opening
ceremonies and their athletic events. Fun to watch someone you recognize.”
Having a brother as a sports agent during the Olympics could only forebode unique memories as AWC London member Suzanne Craig experienced. Whether it was attending events on the spur of the moment or consoling nervous parents as their children competed, nothing could compare to her living room being transformed into a live studio with a major British network, interviewing the great US Gold Medalist Jackie
Joyner-Kersee. After furniture moved and coffee was served, Jackie shared her memories and most poignant moments as an Olympian. Suzanne’s front row ticket was second to none.
The Paralympics continued the enthusiasm in London. As we watched people conquer unimaginable victories, we witnessed that the human spirit is the strongest contending force.
As fall settles in, calmness has returned to London. Our American flags are packed away, ticket stubs placed in scrapbooks and photos left to remind us of our experiences. Some of us may only be in
London for a short time but the memories of the Olympics will always tie us to the spirit on this side of the pond.
Daiena Masciarelli, AWC London