Nick Westby: Why we are all going to miss these London minority reports

Have your say

BMX, handball, volleyball, table tennis and open water swimming – sports we would not normally give a moment’s thought to – have become staple diets in households across the country this past fortnight.

But make the most of these entertaining Olympic events while you can, for by Monday there will be nothing on the television other than soaps and dramas – not the pure theatre of high-octane competition.

How will life go on without a good old-fashioned handball tussle between the Swedes and the Danes?

Entertainment will never be the same after watching BMX racers whizz round and fly through the air over jumps, with that small part of us yearning for an almighty collison.

These minority sports are as much a part of the Olympic story as Usain Bolt winning the 100m or Sir Chris Hoy claiming another cycling gold.

Time and again I have rung the parents to relay tales of the glorious events I have seen that day; of Michael Phelps in the aquatics centre, Bolt on the track, Ed Clancy in the velodrome, only to be told that they’ve become hooked on beach volleyball.

“Can I speak to dad?”

“No, he’s watching the Yanks again.”

These minority sports produce some of the most thrilling action of the Games.

Twelve days ago, I sat in the bar in the main press centre (only been there once, promise) fist-pumping the air with every point the women’s British volleyball team won en route to an historic first Olympic win that they did not seal until well after midnight.

The stories emanating from these people who have sacrificed livelihoods to get to London 2012 are moving.

In one afternoon, I saw Scarborough’s Steven Larsson lead the handball team on a lap of honour in the Copper Box before hot-footing it over to the basketball arena to see Sheffield’s Nate Reinking reduced to tears as he contemplated what next after the end of a six-year journey.

The record books only show the winners and the medallists.

Olympic lore will only remember such as Phelps, Bolt and the Brownlees of these marvellous Games.

But we should never forget such as Rachel Laybourne, one of those girls who devoted her life to pursue the dream of playing volleyball on the greatest stage.

We are unlikely to forget either, those magnificent gymnastics boys of the first week.

It is what the Olympics is all about. A big old hug from the world of sport, from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Enjoy these last couple of days while you can for you’ll be pining for it come Monday evening.