It was an Olympic Games to remember. One of the best there’s been.
Of course as a Brit myself, it may sound like a rush of over-excitement to make such a claim, and with personal memories of Olympic Games that stretch only as far as Barcelona ’92, I’m perhaps not the most qualified to determine where London 2012 fits in when compared to Olympics of the past.
But the overall mood that has gripped these games, from both spectators and competitors, suggest that the vast majority of people involved have had a rather enjoyable couple of weeks.
The atmosphere was certainly lifted by British success across a wide range of events. Sports in which Great Britain typically enjoy success, such as rowing, cycling and equestrian all earned multiple gold medals for the home nation.
In other events, Andy Murray won gold on the famous centre court at Wimbledon, with other popular medal-winning moments including Ben Ainslie’s fourth gold medal in consecutive games following a hard-fought sailing victory in the men’s Finn class, Tom Daley collecting bronze after a faultless display of diving in the men’s 10m platform event, and the Olympic stadium witnessed some of British athletics’ finest moments during ten days of track and field.
Having hoped simply to match the medal tally achieved in Beijing, and aiming to consolidate fourth place in the medal table, Team GB will have been thrilled with such an overall improvement. Their final placing of third in the medal table meant that Great Britain became only the third nation to finish above Russia/Soviet Union in post-war summer Olympic Games.
With success comes expectancy however, and the British Olympic team of 2016 will be under pressure to deliver again. The motto of London’s games was ‘Inspire a generation’ – and how inspired the youth of today feel about becoming the athletes of tomorrow is the test for Britain and its youngsters.
And for the government and the nation’s schools, how can they aim to help those who have the desire and the ability to aim for podium places in Rio and beyond?
All those who have been involved in staging the greatest show on earth deserve much credit for a hugely successful competition.
But the hard work of ensuring a sporting legacy is work that must continue, and if the third Olympics to be hosted in London isn’t going to be looked back on in years to come with only memories of what it was like to see Britain competing for honours on the world’s greatest sporting stage, it is work which the government and all of the country’s sporting bodies must get on with – and something that they must get right.