We're obsessed with the details of planning, preparation and politics that goes on with staging the beastly sporting behemoth that is a 21st century Olympic Games. Almost daily, we mutter about billion pound budgets, lasting legacies, sustainability, cultural Olympiads and corporate sponsors. How refreshing then, to consider the first London Olympics whose centennial anniversary is being celebrated today with a royal reception.
The 1908 Games were cobbled together in just 2 years when Rome had to withdraw due to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Britain's sporting hero was the dashing Lord Desborough who was inspired by the Olympic spirit having competed in the fencing in Athens in 1906 and was determined to put on a jolly good show in London. The Games took place at White City with all too familiar hoohaa over ticket prices, audience figures, disputes over fair play and standard scoring systems all capped off with an astonishing Marathon story.
To commemorate this very British affair in the light of our 2012 preparations, the Queen is hosting a reception at Windsor this evening. Beforehand, and slightly less grand, a "celebrity" polo match will be played at the Guards Polo Club, re-staging the 1908 GB v Ireland match. Please, please, please let's see Anthea Turner whack Grant Bovey with a mallet and Barbara Windsor cheek to cheek with Brendan Cole, dancily replacing divots at half time.
A new book about the 1908 Olympics is due out in June - watch this space for a review.
Image courtesy of fatcontroller's Flickrstream under the Creative Commons Attribution license.