LONDON – There’s a different vibe in the air as I walked around Olympic Park on Friday.
There’s the inevitable feeling that the world’s biggest party is about to end. Hundreds of thousands here and throughout the London metropolitan area would like to keep the fun times rolling for, say, another 10 days or so.
People enjoy lingering on a lazy Saturday morning, an extra cup of tea, one more serving of ice cream, 10 more minutes speaking on the phone with their best friend.
Take all those things together and that’s what is happening here at the 2102 Summer Games.
And instead of working overtime, how about entertainment overtime?
That’s the consensus wish, overwhelmingly.
You can hear people saying how much fun they’ve had since the Opening Ceremony.
You can hear them talk about their favorite times of the past two weeks, the new gold medalists who have brought them excitement beyond their normal daily existence, and the silver and bronze medalists who have competed valiantly to earn places on the podium.
People have a greater go-for-it approach to all they do during the Olympics. The energy of the Olympians rubs off on them.
“It’s time for me to get fit,” one middle-aged British fellow told me, standing in line for the security check in Olympic Park.
“I want to try playing field hockey now. It looks like so much fun,” said another Englishman to me as we left Riverbank Arena on Thursday after watching the Germany-Australia men’s match.
Watching the world’s best athletes strut their stuff has a way of making us reflect on who we are and what we are doing.
At any rate, time waits for no man, and Olympic fever won’t last forever at the current high level that is everywhere one looks in the British capital.
But there’s no rush for everyone to return to their normal routines, including yours truly.
It’s awe-inspiring to show up for work at the Olympic Stadium and see the flame shining brightly to your right and runners lining up in their lanes for the next race to your left.
Seeing gold medals awarded day after day, event after event, and also watching second- and third-place finishers collect their prizes has a way of making the average worker fired up to do a better job at the office the next day.
What else was I thinking about Friday afternoon?
Here’s the topic: Usain Bolt, the natural showman, clowns around for the cameras better than any athlete in recent memory. Sure, some of it is scripted, but it all looks spontaneously fun to him as he goes through the motions.
Those five pushups after the 200-meter final ended Thursday night symbolized Jamaica’s greatest ambassador/entertainer-athlete at the height of his powers.
He knew everyone would be staring at him as the race ended. He knew those five pushups would only add to the memory of his fifth gold medal, and so he dropped down on the track and quickly put himself through the exercise.
Good idea. Good, clean fun.
There will be imitators hoping to score a few “cool points” for doing pushups after winning races or other sporting events in the weeks, months and years to come. But this was the time for Bolt to act the part. He pulled it off brilliantly.
Closing Ceremony plans
The London Games are set to end in a blazing tribute to British pop and pizazz, with a Closing Ceremony that will see stars from the Spice Girls to The Who turn Olympic Stadium into a giant jukebox of musical hits.
Two weeks of sporting drama wrap up Sunday with what music director David Arnold has called “the greatest after-party in the world.”
“If the Opening Ceremony was the wedding, then we’re the wedding reception,” Arnold told the Daily Telegraph — with everyone from the Pet Shop Boys to Annie Lennox and Fatboy Slim on hand to get people dancing.
Although organizers have tried to the ceremony under wraps, many details have leaked out in the British media — and some of the performers have let the cat out of the bag themselves.