Rio 2016: Lighting the flame on sporting gold

The iconic city of Rio de Janeiro will host the biggest sporting celebration of them all.
The iconic city of Rio de Janeiro will host the biggest sporting celebration of them all.
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Right now you’re probably sceptical.

It’s on too late. I won’t watch any of it. Rio is on the other side of the planet. It’s all gone too political.

But as the events begin, the positive news stories start to filter through and the intoxicating images of the Brazilian city in all its splendour become burned on our screens, the mood soon shifts.

Did you see what that gymnast did? How fast did she run? How proud did that Yorkshire athlete make you feel?

An Olympic Games is a story, the greatest sporting one in the world, that unravels at breakneck pace at countless venues dotted across a sprawling city.

Swimming here, a little beach volleyball there. And then we’re off to the hockey, and now it’s canoe slalom.

Some sports you have no idea what’s going on, but the empathy and admiration is there.

People who have sacrificed enormous amounts of time and energy over the last four years in the pursuit of one single goal.

That some of those bend the rules to enhance their chances is the one negative mark the Olympics will never rid itself of. It is a debate which should never go away, but one for another day.

For now, on the morning of the opening ceremony, the Olympics should be about hope and optimism.

The lighting of the Olympic flame which will burn for 17 days, represents unity and the spirit of competition.

Team GB head to Rio with expectations high.

The old names are back: Sir Bradley Wiggins for a glorious swansong; Tom Daley to fly the flag for the younger generation (this is his third Games), Jessica Ennis-Hill to light up the stadium, and Andy Murray to add to his Wimbledon triumph from earlier this summer.

There are some new faces as well: Leeds’ teenage swimmer Georgia Coates and breaststroke world-beater Adam Peaty among them.

Yorkshire will be handsomely represented once more.In London, this great county produced one of the more uplifting subplots to the glorious summer of 2012, with athletes representing this county winning seven gold medals.

The White Rose county would have finished 12th on the medals table if it were a country – a stat we may or may not be guilty of trotting out now and again here at The Yorkshire Post.

In Rio, Alistair Brownlee, Ennis-Hill, Andrew Triggs Hodge, Ed Clancy and Nicola Adams are strong favourites to swell their medal cabinets further.

Once again these great ambassadors for sport in this country, and this county, will leave you beaming from ear to ear with pride.

They represent everything that is good about the Olympics; the greatest reward for the most dedicated and talented individuals.

Hopefully such a notion, as you kick back and watch the action unfold in Rio, should wipe away any scepticism.