Looking back at London's Olympics and forward to Rio de Janeiro's

What happens when the Olympic torch passes from England to Brazil? Eric Idle in sequins and feathers? Photo: Associated Press

NATCHITOCHES, La., August 23, 2012 — A lot of people thought the London Olympics would be a mess. They cost three or four times as much as they were supposed to, but they came off fine. The British won a lot of medals, the weather was mostly good, and the only bad thing that happened was that they filled seats with soldiers because they gave a lot of tickets to people who didn’t come, and people were getting mad seeing all the empty seats on TV when they couldn’t get into the stadiums and arenas.

The opening and closing ceremonies were very British, so they didn’t have to make any sense. They had a lot of pop stars that were famous a long time ago, so my parents knew the music, but kids wouldn’t know who most of those people were. The main idea seemed to be, “hey, we’re the British and we’re pretty cool.”

What will it be like in Rio de Janeiro in four years? There’s a lot of crime in Rio, and the slums are really bad. Brazil can’t afford to spend as much as England did, and they can’t just boss everyone into making everything perfect like they did in China.

The end of the 30th Olympiad was the start of the countdown to the 31st. Not all the Olympians from London will be back in Rio in 2016. Michael Phelps, the best swimmer in the world with 23 medals, 18 of them gold, won’t be back, and neither will the coach of men’s USA basketball, Michael Krzyzewski.

The end of the London Olympics started with the athletes of all of the countries all jumbled together, walking down the aisle towards an enormous Union Jack molded into the ground, to fill in the spaces between each stripe. Then the music began.

Annie Lennox arrived on a ghostly ship, singing. Children did sign language to the music of John Lennon (“Imagine”). After that the Keyser Chiefs sang The Who’s “Pinball Wizard,” and the Spice Girls showed up in glittery taxi cabs with a very good, show-stopping performance of their big hit from the 90s.

Another good part was when Jessie Jay (a pop star), Taio Cruz (writer of Dynamite), and Tinie Tempah (a British rapper) went up on stage and sang, with none other than Fatboy Slim (DJ) doing the discs.

Others who performed were the Pet Shop Boys, Madness, Stomp, and Liam Gallagher. Queen guitarist Freddy Mercury showed up in a video singing “We Will Rock You” with Jessie Jay. Monty Python’s Eric Idle sang “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” (I read that NBC cut out parts of that because people like me were watching), accompanied by Roman centurions, Scottish bagpipers, and a human cannon ball.

The British couldn’t have asked for a better ceremony, with perfect weather, no problems with traffic (no one was going downtown, so the restaurants and theaters were all empty for two weeks), and the British athletes had overachieved. Lord Sebastian Coe gave his speech and praised the athletes for their hard work. I quote from him: “When our time came, Britain, we did it right.”

The 10,800 athletes marched into the London Games and marched back out with no problems. The British couldn’t have asked for more. British athletes pulled in the most medals since 1908, with 29 gold medals and 65 medals in all.

The US did well too, pulling away from China with the most medals and the most gold. They got 46 gold, 29 silver, and 29 bronze medals, for a total of 104 medals.  

Brazil got eight minutes to give everyone a taste of Rio de Janeiro. Most people know Rio for their Carnival, so they did samba, with lots of sequins. They also did a lot of their native dances and music. Then the mayor of London, Boris Johnson handed the Olympic flag to mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Eduardo Paes.

So what can we expect in Rio? All we know for sure is that it won’t be anything like London or Beijing. Whatever goes right and wrong, it will be Brazilian.


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Harlan Picht

Harlan is a student at the NSU Middle Lab school in Natchitoches. He enjoys travel, plays the cello, and plans to start raising rats.

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