Catching the Olympic fever

I'm writing this as I make my way back from the women's football Olympic gold medal match between Japan and USA. Over the past couple of weeks, I've taken in cycling, Volleyball, Table Tennis and men's football. This has probably topped them all. Even a month ago, I was cynical and indifferent to the Olympics. Having landed no tickets in the ballot and relying on hand-me-downs I'd not quite got into the Olympic spirit. That has now completely changed. Every day and night has been a festival of sport.

From the cycling road race - an unexpected mass outbreak of patriotic fever at the bottom of my road - to the ridiculously entertaining women's football final, I've totally been consumed by the event. Evenings have been spent watching Handball, lunchtimes watching Diving. It has been wonderful.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't ask questions of the Olympics. There's plenty you can at least query when you look below the surface, especially on the dreaded Twenty Twelve buzzwords of legacy and sustainability. But the games themselves. Just brilliant.

I think what I've most enjoyed about the Olympics has been the near-total lack of sarcastic cynicism surrounding the events. Each one of these athletes has trained so incredibly hard and reached heights the rest of us can only dream of. Even at the peak of my sprinting I doubt I could have touched any of the competitors in the 100m.

The games themselves have, from the events I've attended and watched, been a celebration of the brilliance of human endurance, an appreciation of what can be achieved with a lot of hard work, dedication and natural excellence. Only the male football coverage has gone against the grain and struck something of a bum note.

And as for tonight... I seriously hope it's not the last women's football game I watch live. Both sides were worthy finalists. Japan were technically excellent but vulnerable to a sucker punch and just fell short when looking for that clinical final ball. USA were disciplined and organised and you had to admire the way they restricted and frustrated Japan in the manner of a top Italian club side, even if they were a little more vulnerable than the game would immediately suggest,

The joy all three sets of medalists had on the podium will stay with me for a long time. I wasn't expecting to enjoy these Games. Instead, they're in danger of turning me into a dewy-eyed sporting romantic.