Getting around London is not for the faint-hearted. Sometimes just leaving the house to face the onslaught of traffic and people and noise makes you feel like you deserve a medal. And now that we've spent two weeks watching top sports people from around the world push the limits and rise to greater heights, it’s important to take a quick look inward and acknowledge the daily triumphs of the average Londoner, whose routine incorporates at least a couple of these Olympics sports.
You get distracted finding Pokémon, so you’re a bit late and you know that if you miss that train you’ll have to wait half an hour for the next. Citymapper tells you you’ve got two minutes to make a five-minute walk. You hold your bags close, try to forget that you’re wearing impractical shoes, and sprint like Usain Bolt to the station, only without the smile (or the speed, for that matter).
You need to carry your gym kit (you’re an Olympian after all), your laptop, a change of clothes in case of a cheeky sleepover and Trump’s bio for some tube lols. All of that essential baggage weighs a tonne and you cart it with you most days. Eat your heart out, Olympic weightlifters, Londoners lift every bloody day.
Dog shit, puddles, vomit, constant roadworks with faux infrastructure and the gap between the train and the platform – all of these things put Londoners in the league of professional hurdlers, forever leaping, stepping over and looking one step ahead for the next obstacle.
This is the sport that Londoners have no idea they are partaking in until they leave London and realise that it’s not standard to walk really fast everywhere (except Oxford Circus where nine times out of ten it’s so packed with people that it’s impossible to walk at any speed at all). To race walk, athletes (that’s you!) must have one foot on the ground at all times or risk disqualification, which is fine, because while you don’t want to be late, you sure don’t want to appear too keen, either.
On average in London there are 164 days per year with more than 0.1mm of rainfall, which means about 50 percent of the time Londoners are splashing around in some sort of water droplets. And we’re good at it, too – we know the best place to come up for air (the nearest pub), the best ways to last the distance in endurance races (carry an umbrella, poncho and wellies with you always) and we totally rock the drowned rat look.
And here's a bonus sport for the Aussie expats…
In Australia, 'to scull' means to drink an alcoholic beverage very quickly. With that definition in mind, London excels at the double scull, especially from 5pm on Fridays. What a city of champions! Well played, team.