For two weeks, every four years, something strange happens to me. I go from a quiet, book-loving, coffee-drinking, gallery-visiting kind of gal to a person my friends and family, not to mention myself, can barely recognise.
Suddenly I’m an expert in every sport, including ones I’ve never played before like handball and shooting. The sports pages become my go-to section in the morning, the news section being discarded on the floor. I start guzzling sports drinks instead of my dark roasted brew.
I take up tennis for about, oh, 10 days. I will even do some stretches before my twice-weekly walk. I will buy a Nike tee-shirt.
It is my Olympics curse. And I love this brief but exciting period of insanity; a time when the whole nation forgets its petty indifferences and comes together on something that really matters – beating the Poms and the Yanks.
This curse of course doesn’t just strike me. But it does look especially ridiculous when I leave my house to do a ‘breezy’ 10km run after watching the marathon, and pull up 200m later with a stitch.
But I don’t care. The Olympics aren’t about being cool. If that were the case, the cycling team would re-think those lycra outfits and our national colours would be fuchsia and liquid silver – very hot colours this season.
In an era when our differences are more prominent than what we share in common, the Olympics are an antidote to those feelings of cultural isolation. It’s one of the few times you can hop onto a bus, look a stranger in the eyes and smile, because you’re both thinking the same thing – we won!
During those two glorious weeks, we all want the same thing – gold and glory. The athletes may cross the line in first position but it’s the nation that really wins. We feel it and it brings a much-needed glow to our collective souls. When Stephanie Rice dives into the pool, the country can forget the carbon tax and dodgy economy – we have something more important to think about.