Tonight while out running a 7 mile run I was listening to BBC Radio 5 live, and the discussion was based around the legacy of the London Olympics. This is something that has been banded about for the last 12 months since the Olympics finished, and the programme was discussing how do you measure the success of the legacy of the Olympics. I watched the Olympics religiously, and did feel inspiration from the fantastic performances of Mo Farrah, Jessica Ennis, Bradley Wiggins, Stephen Kiprotich, Katie Taylor, Chris Hoy and many many others. However one thing struck me while listening to the discussion, was the inspiration of watching those events enough to keep an amateur sports person going when training was extremely tough or enough to keep someone trying sport or exercise for the first interested and enthused? I dont think it is, and I think to place this at the door of the Olympics is unfair.
At all points during our life, we have been inspired by an event to do something, be that a charity, reading a book, watching a film or a sporting event. However, to follow that through to either taking up that sport or that job or helping that charity requires conviction and mental strength on behalf of that individual person. When I say conviction, I dont mean pushy parents who want to immediately force their children to become the next big thing in whatever avenue, I mean personal conviction. When Andre Agassi first came to play Wimbledon, I think it was 1991, I wanted to be just like him. I wanted the racket, the clothes etc. I did play tennis that summer, however did I push my parents to take me to a tennis club…no I didn’t, but in all honesty I wasnt going to be the next Agassi!
I started running not because of being inspired by a runner, I started running because I wanted to be healthy, and I think if more people see athletes as healthy people and decide to take up a sport for that one reason, that is a legacy. However, if people don’t continue with that sport or a healthy lifestyle after a period of time, that isn’t the Olympics fault and not detrimental to the legacy, it is the mental attitude of the individual. During every run, cycle or any type of fitness activity, when it is tough, your body will be shouting STOP!!! I was like many who bought in and was lied to by the Armstrong story. One phrase always stuck with me from his first fiction novel, ‘Its Not All About The Bike’, pain is temporary, quitting lasts forever. That is probably the only bit of truth in that book, and something that always sticks with me during any run, cycle or swim, be that a tough quick paced three mile run, to a marathon or 50 mile cycle, don’t listen to the body and keeping pushing to the goal.