On the day the Olympic Flame is lit in Olympia in Greece ...
I have finished reading 'The Secret Olympian' (by Anon) that came out this month, published by Bloomsbury. I can't say I like their You Tube video. They make such a point of protecting his identity that you can hardly understand a word that's said. The sudden flash from one clip to the next is also confusing and irritating. However, the worst thing in my opinion is that they have used a short piece of the same music by Vangelis that I used for my own video. (This is a joke, by the way ... )
From the content of The Secret Olympian (which is much better than the Bloomsbury video), I am guessing that the writer is one of the male competitors in the stadium at the 28th Modern Olympiad in Athens in 2004. It is structured around his diary entries during the months leading up to the Games. It covers the emotional and psychological stresses of taking part in such a huge event, as well as the training, the drug testing, life in the Olympic Village, the aftermath, and other practicalities of competing at that level. It also gives a broader picture in a section on politics and medal retractions.
There is humour and unabashed emotion. I found it very easy to read in spite of the plentiful, careful detail. I am impressed, and recommend it to anyone who is thinking of starting to train for the Rio Olympics in 2016!
Sadly, though, I know that many Greeks feel that, much as they enjoyed hosting the Games at the time, the immense bills for what are now empty sports venues have contributed to their present economic problems.
This must be true, to whatever extent, and that thought leaves a bitterness that cannot be ignored. Life in Greece has become so very hard with more than 11% of people in the cities without jobs or food, many without a home, and even those with jobs paying higher taxes and prices from pay packets that shrink every few weeks. Michael Portillo's documentary on BBC2 last night confirmed what I know from my Athenian family and friends.
So I can only hope the organisers of Rio 2016 can avoid such pitfalls, and that those in London have already done so.