Olympic 10km open water swimming event

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The Olympic Games have been a great success, be it sitting in your living room watching the wonderful athletes fulfilling four years of hard work through training and motivation culminating in a space in time that will fulfil their destiny or being there with them and sharing their moment of fate.
I was fortunate enough to be there, to share the moment with Spyros, my nephew, our family and the whole of Greece when he endeavoured to push his body to the limits of human endurance in hope of winning a medal in the 10km open water swim.

The event took place in the Serpentine in Hyde Park on a glorious summer’s day. There was a cultural and human attraction that brought everyone together in a crescendo of excitement, endorphins and camaraderie throughout the 10K swim. Supporters of each swimmer chanted their countries name: USA, USA, Team GB, team GB! But our colony of friends and family including Greeks, English, Russians, Belgians and Scousers individualised our chanting not through his country but through his name: Spyros! From toddlers in prams to grandmothers in wheelchairs, we shouted his name loud and rhythmically. It really was a worldwide wonderful atmosphere.

Four swimmers broke away from the pack; Spyros being one of them. But only three out of these four could be on the medal podium. No one deserves to lose but sadly, one of them must. With one lap of the Serpentine to go, Spyros moved into silver medal position. Our expectations were high, our emotions were even higher. His uncle was relaying what he could see through a pair of binoculars as Spyros slipped into third place then fourth as they crossed the finish line even though Spyros gave everything and had his muscles and sinews burned with the pain of lactic acid. The water in the Serpentine must have seen like it had turned into treacle but even so he swam the race of his life. Our chanting got louder until he dragged himself out of the water and made his way into the safety of the athletes’ compound. Our chanting became a hush; we all stood there in disbelief. Tears of pride and tears of frustration; the one place you don’t want to finish in the Olympic Games, fourth.

We could hear the medal ceremony taken place; the Tunisian national anthem rang out and despite our sadness, we cheered and applauded for the winner of this gruelling event. Spyros phoned up his mother and asked if we could all wait so he could catch up with us all. When he arrived, walking slow with exhaustion and back pain, we all cheered him and as one said how proud of him we all are. He put out his hands gesturing to all his family saying “this is my medal”.

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