As Mo Farah broke clear in the final lap of his 10,000 metres and crossed the line with such apparent joy and awe, it was easy to believe the world was sharing our joy. They weren’t, of course.
Audiences in China were watching the weightlifting, in the US the basketball, and in Norway the handball. Bar the 100m final and the Opening and Closing ceremonies, the Olympics is 100 different national narratives set in motion. Right now, Russia and Australia are being vilified in their own media for below par performances in sharp contrast to the national reaffirmation Team GB are generating. There are no commemorative stamps being planned in Moscow.
However, this image is perhaps one of the defining images of the British narrative. Here, Mo collects his gold as the cheering thousands get ready to stand to the national anthem. A Somali refugee has emerged as a central icon to a magnificently successful and widely enjoyed British Olympics. That this success reflects Britain’s and especially London’s multi-cultural population is a perfect riposte to those politicians and papers who baulked at its celebration in the opening ceremony. Britain never was the narrow minded and small place the most reactionary elements of our media presented and – for a heady fortnight, at least – the shrill are being silenced.
FYI, France is mostly watching the fencing, handball, and synchronised swimming.
I am learning a lot. Not all of it useful…