The Olympic Spirit

It’s the middle of the 2016 Olympics in Rio and I’ve been enjoying some high definition coverage on TV and the Internet. One of the aspects I usually enjoy about the Olympics is the music and as I watch Michael Phelps and the odd Australian and other nationality receive their medals my ears have taken pleasure in the dignified medals ceremony background music (minus the drums – more information).

I am also taken back to the Seoul Olympics in 1988 when I definitely wasn’t watching the events in high definition. In fact, I wasn’t able to watch them at all.

We were staying at a caravan park/campground at Blackwater in inland Central Queensland. Why we had decided to take a holiday there I have no idea. I don’t recall doing anything much other than watching the long coal trains pass by, briefly toying with recording their numbers before turning away from becoming a full blown trainspotter.

On the radio was ABC’s coverage of the Olympics. Preceding each broadcast was a wonderful piece of music that stuck with me. It was the most memorable aspect of the entire trip.

Years later I discovered what it was. My favourite composer, my audio obsession, John Williams of Star Wars, ET, Indiana Jones, Jaws,… fame had written the Olympic Spirit for NBC’s coverage of the games.

He also wrote fanfares for the 1984 and 1996 Olympics and the 2002 Winter Olympics, but the Olympic Spirit is by far my favourite composition for the games.

On the drive back home from Blackwater I borrowed my brother’s portable cassette player and listened to Vangelis’ score to Chariots of Fire, a movie also about the Olympics. Again, the music is more memorable than the activity.

I had a chance to experience the combination of music and the Olympics myself when Sydney hosted the games in 2000. The sound of Vanessa Amarosi belting out Absolutely Everybody got the Olympic and Paralympic crowds cheering along at the stadiums. I have a copy of the opening ceremony music too (though not the medals music which I recall enjoying more). It really is an event to engage all your senses.

It really gets you into the Olympic spirit!

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