I’ve come very late to sport, having spent most of my life actively avoiding either watching or taking part in it.
This recent interest is a surprising development and so I’ve spent quite a bit of time pondering what it is about sport that appeals to me. I think it’s the possibility of transcendence - that none of us really know what we can achieve when pushed but that, in sport, sometimes we get to find out.
The Olympics has been a great opportunity to see this in action. Ten million people here in the UK watched Chris Hoy’s final race and all of us thought he’d lost his lead - and the race - coming into the final bank. But then, in what seemed an impossible moment of strength, he found something and pulled ahead to take the gold. In interviews, he clearly had no idea how he’d done it either. You could see it too in the utter surprise on Kat Copeland’s face when she and Sophie Hosking won gold or in Manteo Mitchell, finishing his part in a relay on a broken leg because he didn’t want to let his team down!
My own sporting achievements are rather more limited of course, but after a decade of inactivity I’ve now become a pretty committed cyclist, regular swinger of kettlebells and occasional runner. I’m the fittest I’ve ever been and have lost a shockingly large amount of weight. And the best thing is, I’ve no idea what my body is really capable of, or just how far (and how fast!) I can go. But watching the world’s athletes giving their all and exceeding even the massive expectations placed on their shoulders makes me wonder if it’s further than ever seemed possible.