It has just dawned on me that the plan has failed. The plan was scribbled down a couple of years ago on the back of a metaphorical fag packet and it involved taking a crash course in an Olympic sport and being picked for Team GB.
Archery was on the list. So was shooting. I seem to recall weight-lifting was mooted too. Sports I reckoned wouldn’t necessarily require youth, speed or years of training in which to become proficient.
I’d write a book about how my arrogant premise led to a journey of self-discovery. They’d make a movie of it with Renée Zellweger playing the plucky underdog (me). You can just see the Oscar moment when she releases the arrow from the bow and it heads towards the bullseye. Do they have a bullseye in archery or is that just darts? Wait a minute, are darts in the Olympics?
Like so many of my schemes, it never got past the planning stage and, like most people, I will be an armchair Olympian in the coming weeks. While marvelling at the participants’ skill and endurance, I will be idly wondering how many light bulbs it takes to power an Olympic stadium, how many towels will be laundered, how many energy-bar wrappers will end up in landfill and how many ping pong balls will be recycled? But while I couldn’t uncover the answer to any of these specific questions, I have come across vast amounts of information about how eco-friendly the games will be.
In transforming a neglected brownfield site into London’s Olympic Park, 90 per cent of construction waste was reused or recycled rather than being sent to landfill, while 60 per cent of construction materials were delivered by rail or water transport. The Olympic Stadium is the most lightweight one to date, with a roof truss made out of unwanted gas pipelines. Did I mention the rainwater collected on the velodrome roof will be used for flushing toilets? Or that a fifth of energy used in the Olympic Park will be from renewable sources? There is no doubting the carbon footprint of an event this size will be vast, but it really does sound like someone has tried to minimise it.
The brochure that details all these credentials, From Brown to Green, actually made me want to move to the Olympic Park. The place sounds like paradise: more than 4,000 trees, 74,000 plants, 60,000 bulbs and 300,000 wetland plants have been planted, 45 hectares of wildlife habitats were created, including reed beds, grasslands, ponds, woodlands, 525 bird boxes, 150 bat boxes and artificial otter holts. The photos in the brochure include one of a man gently cradling a newt that was being relocated away from the park to somewhere more suitable.
There was no such mercy for the invasive Japanese knotweed, an area equivalent to ten football pitches of which was exterminated. At least they hope it was exterminated. If the water level in the Olympic swimming pool starts to drop unexpectedly, it will likely have been caused by a wayward shoot of knotweed that has burst through the concrete. It can really do that; I’m not making it up.
Despite grumbles about the environmental credentials of some of the games’ sponsors (BP and Dow Chemical seem to be top of the list), I am putting sustainability scepticism to one side and applauding the effort that has been made. Just as in 2016, you’ll be applauding me as I get the leotard and belt on and lift some seriously heavy weights at the Rio event.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 9 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North