My Olympic Odyssey (Part 14/15): The end

As much as I wanted My Olympic Odyssey to continue forever, there has to be an end point, and joining the royals at the annual year’s end BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards seems as natural a conclusion as any.

I couldn’t have been any closer to the action unless I’d competed in the London Olympic Games themselves.

In the front row of the seated section in the block behind the action, I watched mouth agape as a galaxy of sports stars, past and present, wafted by in their all their finery. It was difficult to recognise them with their clothes on, if you know what I mean.

Victoria Pendleton

Penders, the cyclist scrubs up well. Oh come on. Penders… Victoria Pendleton… jeez

First past me, was my personal favourite for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year title, heptathlete Jess Ennis, looking resplendent in a bright red, floor-length Victoria Beckham number. Jess craned her neck to look towards the person who’d whispered, “You look beautiful,” as she wafted past but I slunk in my seat.

A plethora of stars wandered around in front of me – from Boris Becker and his stunning Thandie Newton look-alike wife to the surprisingly tiny smiley boxer Nicola Adams, unsure where to sit so loitering within a few feet of me in her bow-adorned suit.

A middle-aged autograph-hunter stopped Adams – how embarrassing for him, I thought, that’s so not the done thing at all, while secretly envious that he’d got the London gold medalist’s squiggle.

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova wandered past a few times – clearly unable to walk in her heels, which made me smile. I knew the feeling well.

KJT and Jazmin Sawyer

Heptahlete KJT towers above all

Mo Farah slunk in quite late surrounded by beefy fellas and accompanied by wife and daughter, the duo famously running onto the tracks after his 10,000m win at the Games – he looked embarrassed by the mighty roar that accompanied his arrival.

Best dressed of the night for me, bearing in mind I know nothing about fashion, was Twiggy – no, not the 60s model but the youngest member of Team GB at the London Games, gymnast Rebecca Tunney. Bearing in mind the above fashion quip, I can only describe it as a floaty ring master outfit. Yeah, I won’t give up the day job.

Prepping the Manchester City moment when the crowd were asked to turn their backs to the stage and jump up and down like the fans on the terrace in honour of last year’s Premier League winners, some people booed, presumably the Manchester United fans who were promptly told they didn’t have to join in.

I’d taken my boyfriend to the event as, despite not particularly being a sports fan, he was instrumental in getting me a plethora of tickets for the Olympic Games but even he ended up doing the Manchester City bouncing up and down bit and cheering for everyone mentioned, name-checking sportstars before I’d even clocked them.

Adam Gemili

Sprinter Adam Gemili grinning as ever

For the crowd around us the experience was like some sort of bizarre 3D quiz show. “Oh, look. It’s… you know. What’s her name? Did the running…”
“You mean the swimmer?”
“ Yeah, that’s it.”

Brain-damaged boxer Michael Watson stumbled into the arena reminding everyone of the dangers of sport. Paralympic sitting-volleyball player Martine Wright, who lost both her legs in the 7/7 bombing, reminded us not of the dangers of life but of the best things, receiving a standing ovation as she made her way onto the stage, determinedly using her prosthetic legs to get up an awkward-looking ramp.

Following the show, in which the audience were spectacularly surprised at the presentation party of Kate Middleton and David Beckham, many in the crowd avoided the gaze of security trying to clear the room and made their way towards the stage to get up close and personal with the athletes.

Christine Ohuruogu London 400m silver medalist could have done with being ambidextrous the amount of autographs she was signing. Dame Kelly Holmes made herself available to meet fans and Dame Tanni Gray-Thompson chatted away.

A friend who worked behind the scenes told us some tales from the backstage party, but I shan’t share them. I’d been lucky enough to close my Olympic year perfectly by attending the event and this was one last hurrah for the 2012 athletes. They deserved to let their hair down together one last time.

Author: Jo Gunston

Roving blogging superfan shares behind the scenes stories of her sports life and the best of those from like-minded souls.

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