Off to Hyde Park for the triathlon. 250,000 pack the running and cycling course. We first see them after they have swum 1500 metres. 45km cycling and 10km running to go.Already the elite twenty have broken away from the others. Round and round they cycle. The much fancied British Brownlee brothers and their team mate Hayes in the fore. It looks good. Slowly but surely the lead group is whittled down.
The Brownlees are putting on the pace. We learn that one has a 15 second penalty and they are trying to burn off the competition to make up that time. Whatever,the sausage machine is coughing them out. These are all great athletes but the Brownlee brothers,modest Yorkshire fell runners who moved up, are just chewing them up and spitting them out as they move through the gears and the kilometres.
These baby faced brothers are a far cry from the public school boys who dominate our Olympic success story. Their medals are not won on the playing fields of Eton but in the tradition of sheep farmers and miners competing on the dales and hills that made James Herriott famous.
There is no denying that having your boy,who shares nothing but nationality and,today, how vague is that- in with a shout makes the heart and voice quicken. Its not logical, but its there. We are hard wired to love our countries and enjoy its success especially at the expense of others. As the late lamented Gore Vidal said “its not not enough to do well,others must do badly”.Come on ,eat them, make them ill,show them who is boss.
This is Greek legend,all triathletes are heroes but there is only one Ulysses. The two brothers push on with the Spanish world champion. They are alone. 30 seconds to the next. The younger brother has to stand for his 15 second penalty. But no matter the other brother has done the business the Spaniard finishes way down second. Just so terrifying seeing one man just grinding up these other supermen. It made me want to be gay.
Of course with so many in the crowd to get a view requires some pushing. A group of Kiwi lawyers chatting about house and air ticket prices, and the differences between Wellington and Chancery Lane. They have fold up seats. I say no, seats must go, so others can see, they say they have a right because they have been here two hours. I point out that the logic of that is that if they had got there the day before no one else could see the race. Everyone laughs, they move the seats. On the other side the man complains.I tell him there is room enough for all. But I’m disabled. You dont look it. He shows me his withered hand and says he has cerebral palsy. Help me,I’m going to hell.
Over the other side of the road two mounted police have really got into the Olympic mood and are trying to get a man out of his vantage spot in a tree,.He refuses to come down. More police turn up. This is serious. This what security is for. Is that a media or an attack helicopter in the sky? This is London welcoming the world. He climbs down.The crowd, bless, starts booing the police.