- Tuesday, 14 August 2012
So the Olympic Games are over and all the focus that has been centred on London and the rest of the UK over recent weeks will now abate – at least until the Paralympics start in a few weeks’ time. So now is the time to sit back, reflect and take pride in what was achieved.
For a little over two weeks London was the centre of the sporting world, with massive audiences tuning in to see elite athletes compete at the highest level for medals, honour and the good of sport.
A lot has been said throughout these Olympics about legacy – and what lasting investment hosting the games will bring. It provided an opportunity to get young people into playing sport in the future – and, of course, no-one can argue that anything that encourages people to become more active and enjoy physical exercise can, and will, be a good thing.
But it’s not all about legacy. The organising committee of the games, led so well by Lord Coe, the athletes and the great British public, all combined to put on a spectacle that many are hailing as the best Olympic Games ever - beating the very high benchmark set by Sydney in 2000. And yes, even Australian commentators had to admit that the London games were the best ever.
We should all, whether you like sport or not, feel a huge sense of pride in our country for putting on such a show. We should all remember the massive impact these games have on the profile of the UK around the world. Not only because it was our most successful games ever, but because these games were iconic in so many other ways – from the grace and enthusiasm of the volunteers who gave their time to make the games run like clockwork, to the crowds who packed the stadiums and gave such rousing support, to athletes of all countries.
Let us also not forget the standout and landmark venues that were used – beach volleyball in Horseguards Parade and the equestrian events in Greenwich Park being two of my favourites. It was a pleasure to see the splendour of our historic buildings, buildings that people around the world would already recognise, forming the backdrop for sporting excellence. These images of a London that we know only too well will be remembered by all for many a day.
And what of the sport itself? How many times would you expect to see the nation gripped by Taekwondo, a sport that no one understands, but one that enthralled when a 19 year old girl from Flint became an international superstar by winning gold. How many times would you expect Dressage to be must-see prime time TV? Well, when we win gold, and when it’s our Olympics and national pride is at stake - why not!
What about the atmosphere in The Velodrome for our magnificent cycling team – or likewise in the Excel arena for the boxing, where a virtual unknown woman from Leeds made history by winning the first ever gold medal awarded in women’s boxing? But Nicola Adams won more than gold. She won a nation’s admiration and respect for her courage, athleticism, lovely smile, infectious personality and, most of all, her humility.
These are examples of legacy, when athletes who were virtually unknown just over two weeks ago, are now front page news. If that can’t inspire up and coming generations then what can!
So well done Sebastian Coe and your team. Well done Team GB. Well done the great British public – let us bask in the greatest games ever – and let us take pride in the fact that Great Britain can, and does, put on the best show anywhere in the world – bar none.
That was our Olympics and the future our legacy!