UNDAUNTED: The road to Rio

Steve Daunt tries to get into the Olympic spirit by remembering the Games connected by family get-togethers

The Olympics are finally about to kick off and I’m not feeling the love. Is it because all the good bits will happen after midnight?  Or maybe that’s an age thing. Nowadays, anything after 11pm fills me with dread.

Perhaps it’s the thought of Pele prancing around the city and on our screens for ten days. Yes, he was a great footballer but brand Pele is co contrived that I actually don’t care.

Or, of course, it could simply be that, for the first time ever, the Olympics hold no love for me.

Was it the drugs? The utter unsuitability of Rio? My lack of enthusiasm to engage with a whole new sport? Or a mixture of all three?

Or was it always this way?

Just four years ago I marvelled at how Danny Boyle re-imagined British culture in a breathtaking way; And I bought the sound track.

I even cried when Katie won.

Looking back on the London Olympics got me thinking. When was my first Olympic experience? That would have been Montreal in 1976.

It started with a book. It was a history of every Olympics. It was there where I learned of names like Fanny Blankers Coen, Jesse Owens, Abebe Bakele[running in bare feet]. It also helped me discover that Ireland once won 3 gold medals!  

I had heard of Ronnie Delaney but Dr Pat O’Callaghan and Bob Tisdall? Who were they and how did they get to Amsterdam and Los Angeles in 1928 and 1932 respectively?

At the back of the book there was a whole section where you could write in the Gold, Silver and Bronze of every event - it was a nine-year-old’s dream!

The big day arrived and a minor disaster struck. It was my brother’s wedding day. What was a sports mad boy to do? Thankfully, these were the days when Irish weddings were morning affairs. The meal was well finished when I found the TV room in the hotel. Heaven. Adults had their ‘drinkin and dancing,’ while this Olympic hero had his Games.

Fast forward to Barcelona in 1992 - I find myself in my brother’s house in Canada. Yes, the one who got married. Time has moved on. He now has 3 children and they love their uncle Steve.

The time difference has us watching the Games as the four of us sat in the basement eating breakfast. We thrilled as the arrow shot into the cauldron to light the Olympic flame. As the Games went on, the original Dream Team slam dunked their way to basketball gold. Of course, I secretly screamed at the never-ending ads and the Maple leaf tinted coverage but they seemed minor irritants.

What really mattered was the Olympics were something to be shared with family and friends - a shared experience.

Two Games - 16 years apart - both connected by love and family.

I’ve had other great Olympic memories but those two seem to stand out.

Friday has arrived. The teams will parade. The hymn will be sung and the flame will be set alight? Will I be diving in and remembering my book?Time will tell.

Let the Games Begin.