There they are, Yorkshire’s finest, the Brownlee brothers, they’ve burst through the finish tape, collapsed, picked themselves up and are greeting their fellow runners. Ali and Johnny, Olympic gold and silver, caught by the all-hearing mic saying , ‘we f#cking did it.’ They f#cking well did.
The two of them are very local to us, so local that we run in the same woods and on the same fells. We’re even in the same races, so I can honestly say I’ve raced an Olympian, usually every year at the Chevin Chase, that Boxing Day mud and frost fest that’s not for any faint-hearted namby-pamby road runners who don’t want to get their shoes dirty. The fact that they’ve finished, gone home, got changed, eaten the Christmas Day leftovers and returned before I cross the finish line is neither here nor there, I’ve raced an Olympian.
The past two weeks have been glorious as the Rio Olympics remind me of the good things in the world. Nations celebrating sport, loving it and living it, winning and losing and, to be completely partisan, bringing back the medals to Blighty. They are four hours behind us so when sleep beats me to bed, I’ve to dash for the radio first thing in the morning to catch up and what the medal tally looks like. As I write, we’re second in the medals table, we’re flying, our girls, boys and horses are giving all they’ve got.
Who’d have thought cycling could be so engaging with brakeless bikes following a little man in a battery-powered phut-phut? Noel and I were willing them to win, standing close to the TV and cheering, hoping they could hear us. And what about the horse dancing? Dressage, what’s that all about? I don’t care, we were ace, we won! Kayaking, brilliant! Synchronised diving, superb! Hockey, awesome! Sailing, sound! Golf has always been a good walk ruined, but now we have gold, it’s on the ‘like’ list, well, for a while anyway.
It’s not just team GB, the home team in Brazil cheer wildly when their guys enter the arena, going wild at the golds. And the two gymnasts who fell to their knees and wept as they claimed silver and bronze were the happiest people on earth. Oh my goodness I wept then.
I’ve wept too much over the previous weeks. What is wrong with the world? Angry, angry murderous men driven by hatred and no God any right-thinking person can recognise, killing innocent people, callously mowing them down as they celebrate Bastille Day, shooting partygoers in a gay nightclub in Orlando, stabbing and slashing passengers on trains in Germany and Switzerland, spilling the blood of a priest as he celebrates Mass in his church.
But for just a little while there’s been a glint of light at these Olympics that is making my weeping world a better place.