As with almost everyone who I have spoken to this week, I am thoroughly enjoying the Olympics. My eyes are taking a battering from the many hours spent in front of the TV and laptop and I think it's been outstanding. Much of that is down to the enthusiasm of the British crowds, who have really got behind ALL the athletes. The Olympic stadium is a joy to witness, being almost entirely filled for every session of the athletics and most other events have seen good turn-outs. There is a collective sense of pride within the nation that I have rarely witnessed before and I have caught the tangible 'feel-good factor' which has swept Britain.
I've seen a few negative comments about the BBC coverage but I have no complaints at all. The range of events being shown via TV and live on the net is fantastic, the picture quality online is superb and I really don't understand how some people have an issue with the commentary. It never fails to amaze me how many all of sudden become experts
at commentating on sports they watch once every four years. For the most part, I've loved it, particularly the swimming, which has been covered informatively and enthusiastically by Ian Thorpe and Claire Balding. I'm also loving the contrast between Colin Jackson's overt, upbeat nature and Michael Johnson's more serious, composed but thoughtful views on the athletics.
To see John Inverdale's voice cracking up and the interview with the devastated rowing pair Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter (who narrowly missed out on gold in the lightweight men’s double sculls), was for me, the most emotional moment of the Olympics so far. Inverdale gets an awful lot of unmerited stick from people who don't like him as a presenter. I understand why, because he does come across a bit like a bumbling buffoon at times and his knowledge of certain sports seems lacking. However, the animosity this brings out in some people is a disgrace - he's a sports presenter, for god's sake, not a serial killer! And he never comes across as anything less than an amiable, decent guy with a clear passion for sport.
The tennis tournament was even better than I expected. It's one of those events, like basketball and football, which some believe shouldn't be in the Olympics because it's not the pinnacle of the sport but I think London 2012 has shown that it most definitely is. Roger Federer has talked it up ever since Beijing and anyone witnessing the performance of Andy Murray (who raised his game to a level which can now be considered on a par with the top 3) and Juan Martin Del Potro (who was overcome with emotion on getting his bronze medal) will understand that it is up there with the Grand Slams now.
The quality of tennis on show certainly proved how much these multi-millionaire stars want to win gold. It goes down as one of the tournaments of the year for sheer excitement, with the men's semi finals both absolute classics and Serena Williams simply awesome as she turned in some of the best tennis ever seen from a female player. Her reaction to winning singles AND doubles (resembling that of a little child on a trampoline for the first time) also proved that tennis is a worthy Olympic event. Even the mixed doubles had some cracking matches, with Victoria Azarenka overjoyed at her gold. To top it all off, the atmosphere at Wimbledon was actually better than during Wimbledon! It reminded me of the Australian Open, which is my favourite Grand Slam because of the loud, partizan and fun-loving crowds. Every nationality is represented and you'll see loads of flags and chanting and is altogether more raucous than the polite, gentile crowds at SW19. Not during the Olympics though! I only wish it was like that at Wimbledon every year.
Easily the most disappointing aspect of the Olympics for me, was the football. Not because Team GB went out early (in the quarter finals on penalties, as you'd expect) but because it barely registered with me. I didn't even watch the final match, I was too enthralled with the athletics, which is probably the reason why it's not been a big talking point. I did watch the group games though and the whole spectacle was just dull. Whilst other sports have been watched by cheering, noisy and enthusiastic fans with athletes really responding and giving their all, the football has been played in a flat, strangled atmosphere by players who for the most part, don't seem to really have the desire. I suppose the fact it's in the off-season and that clearly, not all the best British young players were made available for selection, hasn't helped. But the actual football was just very uninspiring, to the point where I switched over to watch cycling or volleyball or some other sport which had the sort of things you expect to see: hunger, determination, spirit and the best athletes from that discipline, in the best condition, giving their all to make the crowd get behind them. You can't say Team GB had any of that.
I'm really going to miss London 2012 when it's over and I have to say, it's even inspired me with my trading. The first week in August has seen my performance dip a little. I lost a bit of focus, maybe took my foot off the gas after my record-breaking July. So I've set myself a new set of mid-term goals and hopefully, this will sharpen me up and push me on to another 6 months of excellent results. I think sometimes, when you achieve a goal, you can lose some of the desire and discipline you had and so it's important to rejuvenate yourself and set new targets. That's what makes these athletes who win gold two or three times, so amazing. To keep going through the strain, sacrifice, patience and discipline required to be the best, even after you've achieved the gold once, requires unbelievable motivation and mental strength. If I can get just a smidgen of that, I know that I can be a very successful trader.