Unless you've spent August in the remotest parts of the planet, you can't have helped notice the 2016 Olympic Games in full swing. My first memories of this global phenomena was Munich in 1972 (which unfortunately will be forever remembered for all the wrong reasons). But ever since I've looked forward to the grand spectacle every four years and was lucky enough to get tickets for the athletics at London 2012.
But apart from watching sports that rarely appear on TV away from the Olympics, what benefit can be gained from seeing the world's top sports people in action? Is the money spent on training an elite few for personal glory invested well?
In my view, absolutely yes - and a resounding yes at that. This has been a hot topic in the UK. In 1996, the Great Britain team returned from Atlanta with just one gold medal - one! And this from a country with a population of fifty million at the time. They finished 36th in the medal table behind many smaller countries. The decision was made to spent money raised tom the National Lottery and setting up a funding organisation that would decide where to spend the cash.
Twenty years later, the results are undisputed. Twenty-seven gold medals (67 in total) and second in the medal table behind the US. I believe the maths works out at each gold medal costing £4.5 million in total - and yes, there are those who question if it's money well-spent.
Again I would say yes! The whole mood of the nation was lifted by the GB team demonstrating what's possible when you combine resources to bring athletes together with good coaching, appropriate facilities and sports science. Of course this is at the top of the pyramid, but what about at the bottom, the grass roots. Is the benefit justified?
As an athletics coach I can tell you the numbers of young coming to the club treble after the Olympics. And it's not just the youngsters as the increase is noticeable in those in their thirties and forties. If that's replicated across the country, and indeed, the world, then that means hundreds of thousands are inspired to take up a new sports, or return to sport after a break.
We all know, the more active we are, the healthier and fitter we'll be, and therefore off-setting or completely preventing the conditions that plague a sedate and over-weight population.
But as the memories of Rio start to fade and Tokyo 2020 still seems a long way off, can you sustain the initial enthusiasm? What steps can you take now?
If the rowing inspired you, then obviously you can either find a local rowing club and apply to join, or get yourself a rowing machine (or upgrade your existing model). If you apply to join a club to row on a real river, you'll be asked to do a few trials on an ergo - that's the fancy word for an indoor rower. Odds on it will be a Concept2 and they'll be looking at how you can handle yourself before putting you on a real one :0)
If you're totally new to rowing and using a rower, then it's always advisable to speak to your doctor first and then starting a program gradually. You can find plenty of advice in my workout program that will take you from beginner to advanced in simple steps that avoid injury and over-training.
Inaction and indifference is the biggest threat to achieving your goals - so don't delay. Use the example set by the elite athletes and start something new and get yourself fit and reap the benefits for years to come.
And who knows, if you've not left it too late, you could be competing yourself at Tokyo or 2024 :0)
Roy Palmer is an athletics coach, teacher of The Alexander Technique and a rowing fanatic.