Last night, I watched live on television the closing ceremony of the Paralympic Games here in London. It featured my favourite band Coldplay and was an exuberant end to six brilliant weeks in which my home city has hosted the Olympics and the Paralympics. Even those who were cynical before – which did not include me – or who were not really interested in sports – and that certainly included me – have been swept up by the sheer excitement and joy of the events.
Both sets of Games were superbly organised and there was a great atmosphere aided by all the volunteers. Even the weather, the notorious British weather, played its part and the last few days have been positively blazing. Once we got over some early ticketing issues, all the venues were packed with the Paralympics selling out for the first time. The audiences spurred on the competitors and gave Team GB a major home advantage.
In the Olympics themselves, 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. In the Paralymics, we won 34 gold medals, 43 silver and 43 bronze – a total of 120. Again this placed us third in the world with this time only China and Russia – again much, much larger nations – beating us.
As Lord Coe put it at the closing ceremony last night:
“There are some famous words you can find stamped on the bottom of a product. Words, that when you read them, you know mean high quality, mean skill, mean creativity. We have stamped those words on the Olympic and Paralympic Games of London 2012. London 2012. Made in Britain.”
Now. let’s secure the heritage of the Games …