As a young boy growing up my access to TV and, therefore, the Olympics was non-existent. Being at boarding school may have partly contributed to the lack thereof. To be honest I struggle to recall having really followed any games prior to Beijing, 2008.
Of course there was news and hype around famous victories and records set… and, if I really put my mind to there a number of notable athletes and events that come to the fore such as Michael Johnson’s golden boots and his seemingly unbreakable records in the 200m and 400m sprints. I also remember the wagging tongue of 100m sprinter Maurice Greene, the rise and fall of athletes such as Marion Jones, and the dominance of East African athletes in the long distance track events. I may have also caught the odd gymnastics or swimming event – particular in the Thorpe and Phelps eras. However, this is as far as my Olympic wisdom extended.
Over the last 3 Olympic games, however, my interest and ‘participation’ has gradually gained traction and that can be accredited to a number of factors… 1) access to TV / satellite TV and therefore exposure to more events 2) increased contact and interaction with friends, colleagues and media with an interest in the games 3) the rise of athletes / personalities I can relate e.g. Mo Farah – fellow Gooner / Arsenal FC supporter 4) wider distribution of sponsorship and more competitive nature of the games e.g. the rise of Puma sponsored Jamaica (esp. Usain Bolt).
I must confess that I did tweet a couple of messages of encouragement for Caster Semenya, and I retweeted the story about the Cameroonian athletes who went ‘missing’, I also couldn’t help but commend the amazing talent on show in the women’s football tournament… yes I tweeted about that too. But that was it, I promise!
SO… Has social media changed how I view the Olympics? Probably not – but it did give me a platform to share some of my thoughts at moments when nonone else was around to listen.