London? Yes. The 2012 Olympic Games will be held in London, and words cannot express how thrilled I am that it's only 730 days away.
Here's what the venues look like today:
(photo courtesy of London 2012 and Getty Images)
You can see that there is still progress to be made before the athletes start pouring into the Olympic Village, each representing their home country with clothing donning their country's official colors. Which, in case you didn't know isn't always the same color on their flag (my favorite example: Australia!).
Sponsors and partners will have their logos splashed everywhere. The Village is notorious for having McDonald's, who has been a long-time sponsor of the Games. In- and out-of-competition apparel comes from the likes of Nike (who is not technically a sponsor) and Ralph Lauren (at least if you're an athlete from the U.S.). Chances are, you've seen a VISA commercial or two if you tune into Olympic coverage for more than a minute.
But there's more to the Olympic Games than branding. It's about heart. It's about creating an experience for the best athletes in the world (aside from Ironman competitors or the U.S. Softball team, neither of which will be competing in London). The International Olympic Committee wants to "build a better world by promoting the Olympic Truce and using sport to forge friendship among the athletes, young people and communities," essentially creating peace worldwide.
Even though I still have VHS tapes from the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, I clearly remember the "Olympic Moment" from one random day in the first week of compeition. I wish I had a video to show you of the NBC piece, but it's nowhere to be found on the internet. I'll track it down in my box of tapes if you want to see it. Anyway. This swimmer, Eric Moussambani, came to Sydney from Equatorial Guinea, a country that had just established their first aquatic federation. Moussambani was going to swim in the same pool as Ian Thorpe and broken world records.
“I didn’t know if I could make it,” Moussambani would tell us reporters, and he meant those words literally … he honestly did not know if he could swim 100 meters. He had never done it before. Not straight. Not in a row. Heck, 100 meters would have meant swimming the length of the hotel pool five times, dodging any number of splashing kids.
But these were the Olympics. He would certainly try. He stood on the blocks at the beginning of the race and, as fate would have it, he stood alone. Both of his competitors in the heat false started their way out of the race. The stage was his.
(Read the entire story from Joe Posnanski - I promise it's worth it)
So he swam both lengths of that 50m pool. And he finished in 1:52:72. Alone. People laughed. People thought "I'm faster than that." But he had only been swimming since January, and these Games were in September. And he finished after never having completed that distance before.
That story encompasses what the Olympic Movement is about. Chances. Struggle. Succeeding. Because success doesn't necessarily mean winning, at least not for everyone.
When we think about what we'll be doing in two years, usually it seems far away. We aren't thinking of that time or place yet. We don't know where we'll be. But today we can say, two years from now I will be watching the Opening Ceremonies for the 2012 Olympic Games.
And I don't know about you, but I hope I'm there to see it in person.