You may recall that I recently wrote a blog post about how refreshing it’s been to have genuine role models splashed across the front pages of our newspapers and featured on TV, courtesy of the Olympics. Much better than the shower of ‘celebrity’ shit that’s usually paraded before our weary eyes on a daily basis.
Well, off the back of that – with only a few hours till the Olympic Flame is sadly extinguished (and only a week till the X-Factor returns, with its unique brand of packaged emotion and contrived bullshit) – my sister sent me an e-mail tonight that made me both happy and tearful. I’d like to share it.
Rufus is my four-year-old nephew. London 2012 has left a big impression on him.
Just a quickie to tell you something further to your excellent blog about the Olympic athletes being better role models than TOWIE etc.
Almost to illustrate your point, Rufus has been absolutely inspired by the Olympics. He’s running more, cycling more and when we took him and Jude out (Ru on his bike and Jude on a trike), he turned the whole thing into a race that he wanted to win. Last night he told me that when he grows up he wants to compete in the Olympics in the rowing, the kayaking, the cycling, the BMXing, the ‘swordfighting’ (fencing), the swimming, the gymnastics, the pole-vaulting, the high jump and the running…..and pretty much everything else he could think of. He told me he’s going to be a super Olympic athlete and we’ll all go to watch him. He also told me that the reason there’s no more fencing on at the Olympics is because they’re waiting for him to grow up so he can train to be in the team. Apparently they can’t carry on till that happens.
It’s been magical to see Rufus so inspired (he refers to his trampoline as his ‘stadium’) and you can see it absolutely everywhere. Earlier today I noticed the kids in our street suddenly doing training outside, running around doing track and field stuff. Rufus’ best friend wants to be an Olympian as well. It’s fantastic, but also soul-destroying to think that it’s all going to be over tomorrow and our children will go back to having bell-end Premiership footballers, glamour models and crap singers as their inspiration. Horrifying.
Let’s hope he stays inspired, whatever he turns out to be and do.
PS – He also wants to do ‘stairs’ as an Olympic sport, which mostly involves lying on them in inventive ways 🙂
So, London 2012 – you have inspired. To all those now charged with delivering the participation legacy, please don’t squander what you have helped to unleash. Rufus could be competing as early as 2028 (Games of the XXXIV Olympiad). Don’t fail him over the next fifteen years or so. Thanks.
I also received the following e-mail from my sister:
Rufus was very excited about the Paralympics because we were all so sad when the Olympics ended, and he would ask every day when they were going to start.
When the Paralympics finally began, we faced the inevitable questions about the athletes and their bodies. We didn’t dumb it down or sugar-coat the facts, we told him the absolute truth about the athletes, what their disabilities were and how they came to have those particular disabilities. He often asked how athletes had lost a limb (or limbs) and if we didn’t know, we’d find out and discuss it. (At one point, he asked if a female Paralympian had had her arm “shot off” – so it was essential we provided timely, accurate research to keep him fully informed and his imagination grounded!)
We were completely open about it and it didn’t freak him out or scare him, he just took it all on board and accepted that these things can happen in life. I was very proud of him.
Anyway, one day – part way through the Paralympics – he was trying on some new school socks that were a bit too big for him. He pulled them right up to his knees and told me that they were his prosthetic legs and he’d be able to run really fast. A day or two later we were over at his best friend Austin’s house, when he pulled his arm into his T-shirt and told Austin that he can run really fast with one arm. He subsequently challenged him to a race.
At one point, he decided that he would run with no arms at all and I had to tell him to have at least one arm out in case he fell. He was most put out by this. Then, the day before he started school, Rufus, Austin and their other friend Harry were having a final play date when Rufus pulled his arm into his t-shirt again and spent most of the afternoon running around like that. We only noticed looking back at the photos that Harry and Austin were armless in some of them too!
So in a nutshell, he thinks the Paralympians are amazing!