As I waited for the Olympic torch to pass Primark on the city’s High Street I scanned the crowd. People were smiling and strangers were chatting. Lincolnites young and old had the same look of excitement in their eye, and when a man on stilts asked people to cheer there was no hesitation before raucous roars and whistles. On the hottest day of summer so far Lincoln had come alive to welcome the torch relay; and I had never been so proud of my adopted city, writes Emma O’Neill.
Thousands of Lincolnites lined the streets for the entire length of the relay’s journey and the level of positivity and excitement pumping along the Brayford and up to the Yarborough Leisure Centre was inspiring. I had never seen the city so united, nor had I seen so many spectators spontaneously dancing while watching (and swinging my hips to) the vivacious Festival of Light drummers and dancers that followed the torch.
Each torchbearer’s pride, smile and spirit was contagious and as I watched Sue Holland-Leavens, 52, from Spalding ignore her walking stick – aiding her journey due to arthritis of the spine – and beam while she waved to the cheering crowd, I couldn’t help but well up a little.
Once the flame had safely reached Yarborough Leisure Centre it was time for the city to celebrate with concerts at the leisure centre and the University of Lincoln where Lady Gaga and Michael Buble tribute acts joined local performers to entertain the crowd. The day’s festivities culminated in an impressive fireworks display above the Brayford that I watched from a great spot on the Electric Bar’s balcony!
And as the city looked to the sky that night I started to think about the incredible impact the torch relay had on Lincoln that day. How, without athletes competing, the Olympic spirit was present. Baron Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the International Olympics Committee, put it best when he said: “May the Olympic Torch pursue its way through ages, increasing friendly understanding among nations, for the good of a humanity always more enthusiastic, more courageous and more pure.”
And yet while I acknowledge that the Olympics is about a lot more than just sport and winning, I can’t silence a niggling desire to see Australia beat England in the medal tally come September
Bring on London 2012!