There has been a sense of anticlimax in my home city of London today after all the excitement of the last 16 days of the city hosting the 2012 Olympic Games. Even the weather has been duller than it was during the Games when it stayed fine after months of exceptional rain.
For all the frequent doubts and characteristic cynicism in the years and then months before the Games, the passage of the Olympic torch all around the UK started to swing opinion behind the event and excite interest in it. The Games themselves have been phenomenal – brilliantly organised, with none of the transport and security problems that were feared, and terrific results, for both the sports themselves and especially for Team GB.
There were 70 Olympic records and 32 world records. Great Britain won 29 gold medals, 22 silver and 10 bronze – a total of 65 medals. This placed us third in the world with only the United States and China – much, much more populated countries – surpassing us.
Those 65 medals compared to 47 in Beijing in 2008, 30 in Athens in 2004, 28 in Sydney in 2000, and a mere 15 in Atlanta in 1996. It was the nation’s best Olympic result since 1908 when the Games were first hosted by London. It is very hard to see how this achievement could be exeeeded in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 or any other time.
I’m not really interested in sport, but even I watched key events on television, including the spectacular races of Jessica Ennis, Mo Fahar and Usain Bolt. Last night, I watched a BBC one and a half hour review of the highlights of the whole Games and then live the three-hour closing ceremony when I especially enjoyed the reunion of the Spice Girls and Eric Idle singing “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life”.
I would have loved to have been a volunteer for the London Olympics. I applied and was shortlisted but not chosen. I pay tribute to the 70,000 volunteers who gave the Games such a friendly face.