The torch in my street: Living the Olympic spirit in London

2012-07-28 00:00

I FEEL privileged to be in London for the Olympic Games knowing I’m not a tourist — I live here now, so it’s almost like having this huge event come home.

What’s even more special is that I live in the host borough, Newham. From the moment I arrived in London in 2011, it’s been all about the Games. From the countdown clock in Trafalgar Square to the Olympic rings being put up on Tower Bridge, London is a buzz of activity and with so many events going on at the same time that I literally cannot decide where I want to be.

Last Saturday, the Olympic torch relay came through our home streets. I woke up early, not expecting many people to come out, and walked to where the torch was expected to go by. The sun was shining (which is an event in itself in London) and I could feel the excitement in the air. Within an hour, the streets were packed and everyone in the neighbourhood was there. We were given flags and drums and waited anxiously for the torch to appear. There were volunteers handing out fruit and little children singing the anthem. The sense of community was amazing.

Suddenly, the first few participants of the relay were visible and the crowds began to applaud and cheer. And there it was — the torch — which had travelled hundreds and thousands of miles and was finally here. It was a wonderful moment to see people of different backgrounds come together for the experience. If this was the excitement and atmosphere at the relay, I can only imagine what it will be like inside the Olympic Park.

Despite the gloomy weather, people came out in their thousands to see the Olympic Torch. There were families, workers, tourists and television crews. The atmosphere was electric. Everyone is excited because this was the last leg of the torch relay before it appeared at the Olympic Park last night. This is an experience I will never forget. It makes me proud to be South African, supporting our team at the biggest sporting event in the world.

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