The Olympic Games drew to a stunning close over a week ago now and the Premier League season is already back in full swing. Whilst I am delighted that the football season is back in business, I cannot stop thinking about the magical 16 days of sport that we had the privilege of hosting in our country's capital. Over two weeks of glorious sporting intensity, rivalry and spirit in which the entire nation came together and joined the party. Over two weeks during which all our worries were forgotten as Mo Farah, Usain Bolt, Jessica Ennis and others produced some of the greatest sporting moments and images in athletics history. As Eddie Butler said in one of those spine tingling montages: "Two weeks that changed the way we looked at sport and each other."
I am trying to cling on to the Games in any way that I can. When I drive round a bend, I think of Yohan Blake tearing it up before handing the baton to Bolt. When I see a bunker on the golf course, I see Greg Rutherford flying into the sandpit. I have numerous recordings ready to watch and watch again. Everything passed by in a flash. I tried to watch and enjoy as much as I could but that still was not sufficient. I was privileged enough to be present at the stadium when Farah won his second gold of the Games. Never have I been in an atmosphere like it and the goosebumps still appear on my arms when looking back on that magical night.
It was wonderful to see those pre-Games sceptics become enamoured early on with the sport and entertainment on offer. Newspapers were littered with heart-warming stories of glory and passion, rather than crime and economic strife. Strangers on the tube took out their headphones and engaged in excitable conversion with one another. Of course this is no longer the case but, for just over two weeks, life was very, very fun.
The athletes, not least the British contingent, played their part in producing some of the more memorable performances of recent times. The fact that Team GB competed beyond expectation and brought home a glut of medals, undoubtedly raised interest to levels that perhaps even Lord Coe couldn't have envisaged. Images linger of teenager Jade Jones throwing her judo helmet into the sky having won gold, of Farah's face in utter shock at what he had just achieved and the affable Laura Trott understandably unable to keep her emotions in check. Then there were the stories that you couldn't script. Catherine Grainger finally achieving that elusive gold medal. David Rudisha smashing the 800m World Record simply by deciding to 'run fast'. Two unassuming brothers from Yorkshire who happen to be pretty good at the triathlon on an Olympic podium together. And of course, the most decorated Olympian in history, Michael Phelps, bowing out with a gold and another slew of medals. As for Mr. Bolt, what is there left to say?
These were the Games that made history, as athletic trailblazers made their mark in London. Oscar Pistorius has now paved the way for Paralympians to compete among able-bodied athletes. He also managed to force the tear ducts into overdrive. Wojdan Shaherkani and Sarah Attar became the first women to compete for Saudi Arabia in the Olympic Games. The vast majority of newspapers in their country were too fearful to praise these women for their groundbreaking efforts, but that does not take anything away from their achievements. Whilst the undoubted stars of London 2012 were Bolt, Farah and co, it is these stories and moments that truly underline the greatness of the London Games.
Now the attention turns to that word 'legacy'. Quite what that involves I could not say. However, the infrastructure and athletic heroes in this country are now in a position to make a positive impact. We had the Olympic Games in our country. For some of us, in our city. Do not underestimate how special that is. London was ignited and in turn lit up the world from the Opening Ceremony through to the Closing Ceremony. "There is a truth to sport. A purity, a drama, an intensity", said Lord Coe in his welcome speech. "A spirit that makes it irresistible to take part in and to watch. London 2012 will inspire a generation." London 2012 inspired us and ought to inspire more than just one generation. I'm holding on to the Games and I hope others do too. Cherish the memories.
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