My Olympic Odyssey (Part 1): It begins

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By Jo Gunston

The second London was announced as the surprise winner of the 2012 Olympic Games I knew my life had changed, even down to the country in which I’d live.

Nevertheless, it was not a dramatic moment for me, just the natural course of events. My world revolves around sport after all.

02 Scar pic

Jo’s ‘sharkbite’

My childhood was absorbed by gymnastics until a back injury put paid to any hopes I may have had of competing at an Olympics.

The 10-inch long scar just below the bikini line on my back did give me years of amusement, however, as I’d tell people I’d been bitten by a shark instead of the rather more dull sports injury story and resulting spinal fusion operation.

Didn’t quite make up for missing out on the Olympics but you’ve got to take the funs when you can.

I remain a sport nut, often finding myself involved in various sporting escapades.

Furiously taking on the ticket touts at the Australian Open tennis final? Tick. Flying to Tokyo for a long weekend to watch the World Gymnastics Championships? Tick. Getting shouted at while volunteering as a marshal at the Sport Relief Mile in London for announcing through a megaphone that boyband, ‘JLS are in the house’? Tick. Stuntwoman in a feature film? Tick. Attending over 100 sports events from canoeing to diving to MotoGP to extreme events involving electric shocks to alpine skiing. You name it, I love it. Except horses. Not big on the old horses.

Despite all this sport fandomery, the day of the announcement of the winning bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games was not a big deal for me. As far as I, and many others were concerned, Paris was nailed on to win.

So, despite working in London – the other bidding city left after a number of rounds whittled the bidding cities down to two – less than 100m from where a big screen in Trafalgar Square showed the IOC in Singapore doing the envelope-reveal thing, I didn’t bother heading down.

I ‘didn’t bother’ isn’t usually in my vocabulary so I can only imagine that my head was full of the joys of Sydney from where I’d recently returned and was currently in the process of sorting out a work visa to go and live in Australia.

I thought it was my destiny (and possibly the hot surfer boyfriend) to go and live there; it felt like my natural home despite being born in Essex.

But in an instant that changed. There was no way I could live on the other side of the world when the biggest sporting occasion was going to be taking place on my very doorstep. What’s that quote? “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”

I wouldn’t make it to the Olympics as a competitor (although I still harbour dreams of taking up another sport – table tennis maybe?) but I would do my utmost to make the very most of any opportunity to be involved.

So the period pf the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games encompasses my sporting life – my never-give-up, opportunity-grabbing, how-did-I-get-here, why-didn’t-I-get-there, emotional, triumphant, despairing, hilarious, romantic, feel-good sporting life – a journey I’ve been on my whole life.

03 Jo at WembleyNext post: An Olympic Odyssey: an obsession

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