So there it is, or there is was. The London 2012 Olympics came to a glittering end last night, complete with a soundtrack featuring the best of British music; The Who, David Bowie, Queen, Tinie Tempah and Madness. There was an electronic light show to end all other light shows, not to mention an outstanding ovation for 70,000 people that none of us knew the names off, but we knew we were grateful to them none the less.
We’re talking about the closing ceremony for the London Olympics. We’re talking about the musical extravaganza that featured as the soundtrack to a party for Olympians to let their hair down too. And of course, the 70,000 people none of use know the names off but wanted to salute – the volunteers. They made the games vibrant, good humored and welcoming, the athletes, of course, made their own contribution too, with a few medals here and world records there. But perhaps the biggest winner of all was London and Britain itself.
A diverse, welcoming, energetic and sporting nation; the Great British public roared on not just Team GB, but everyone else too, even those athletes that were on the verge of taking away Team GB’s medals – the old British sense of fair play was evident at these games more then ever. When Team GB’s Long Jumper Greg Rutherford was on the verge of clinching the gold medal in the Men’s Olympic Long Jump Final, there were still two attempts remaining for other athletes to try and take the first position away from him. When Rutherford jumped into 1st position, the crowd in the Olympic Stadium erupted. But, when the two remaining American athletes jumped to try and take away Team GB’s gold medal position, they didn’t boo, or chant or wish them any bad luck, instead, they roared as loudly for them as they had done for one of their own. Sportsmanship at its fullest.
There will be many defining moments of London 2012 – Usain Bolt defending his 100m and 200m titles successfully against the young and gifted pretender and fellow countryman and training partner, Yohan Blake. There was also the devastating USA women’s 4 x 100 relay team breaking a long standing world record to clinch gold, David Rudisha’s magnificent and epic triumph in the men’s 800m final, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce’s victory in the women’s 100m, Kath Grainger finally winning that elusive gold medal, Sir Chris Hoy winning his 6th Olympic Gold Medal and of course Jessica Ennis, queen of the track and field, Mo Farrah – is there a distance he can’t run? And a wonderful end to the whole shabang by the Jamaican 4 x 100 relay team. In conclusion, London 2012 was an Olympics like no other in that it was a festival of sport and spirit that saw the best athletes to emerge in a generation, peak at the right time, and peak they did in London - for that we should be grateful.
The challenge now is to ensure that the London Olympics carries on its legacy and gives a chance to younger sports men and women to not just find a challenge in sport, but find some fun and also find themselves. If London 2012 has taught us anything, it is that sport can still unite and triumph off the field of play as well as on it – just look at how the the athletes and fans carried each other to the finish lines, one could not have got through it all without the other.
Now London is gearing itself for the Paralympics, which again is sure to be another awe inspiring demonstration of courage and skill. And after that, we’ll have to wait another 5 years until the Olympic Stadium hosts the IAAF World Championships in 2017 until we get to feel that sporting buzz again, but when it does happen, you can be sure, London will be ready.
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