Following last weekend’s dawn rising to see the flame, the city’s been buzzing with sporting fever all week and seems in no way in the mood for a lie-in. With city schools hosting sports days come rain (mainly) or shine (rarely) and professional coaches inspiring some of the lucky kids during ‘Olympic fortnight,’ there really was little chance of us getting away with a lazy ‘in front of the telly ‘cos it’s raining’ type weekend.
So, to pander to the little ones’ need for a run-around, sparked not least by that nearly-end-of-term excitement, we headed off to Milton Country Park on Sunday where we’d been promised an array of Olympic-themed activities to wear the kids out and guarantee us a peaceful night’s sleep.
‘Park Life’ a free event for families to mark the countdown to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, part of the four-year Cultural Olympiad programme, was in no way a let-down. We wisely turned up mid-morning, when most families were still taking a bet on the weather, so avoiding any of the queues from last year when over 2,000 people turned up to the event.
Greeting us warmly were Wenlock and Mandeville, the official mascots for the Olympic Games. After intimidating our 2-year old into a blissful state of temporary silence with their alien one-eyed stare, they did manage to entertain the older one even if they couldn’t answer any of his questions (I’m not sure they’re allowed to talk). To what extent he understood the subtle symbolism embodied in their design or felt inspired to a life-time of Olympic activity after meeting them, is also a little uncertain. Still, the astronomical marketing spend was clearly worth it as they did make an impact. (We heard him proudly telling his friends later that he’d met the ‘real’ teletubbies…)
And they weren’t the only celebrities putting a smile on people’s faces.
Kamal Hyman, 18, from Peterborough (the first person to carry the torch from the Guildhall on its journey out of the town), was at the Park, this time brandishing a foil. And the torch? Not enticed to sell his on eBay, he told localsecrets he’s been busy visiting primary schools with his torch, which he keeps in his bedroom and hasn’t yet had time to mount.
He admitted that being nominated as a torchbearer “was an absolute honour. The adrenaline was running throughout,” he said reflecting on this lap with the torch. “My mum was more excited than me – I have very proud parents!”
Youth Ambassador for Peterborough he clearly enjoys inspiring youngsters as witnessed on Sunday when he spent the day teaching excited groups of kids, some as young as 4, how to joust and parry to shouts of ‘en garde’ in front of an audience of equally as proud parents.
“It’s a really exciting day!” he enthused as one of the kids managed to catch him off guard with their sword. “It’s really nice to see families of all ages having fun together. The work we do with kids is amazing!”
And fun it was. One round of basketball later followed by a stint of wall climbing, bean-bag racing, bouncy castle and jumping and we finally headed home, with 2 happy boys fast asleep in the car. Fingers crossed for a well-deserved lie-in…