London 2012 Olympics: Magic moments define an event like no other
THE curtain has finally fallen on the feel-good blockbuster of the summer.
The London Olympics provided a beleaguered Britain with the perfect tonic – a heady mix of sporting drama, flag-waving patriotism and international bonhomie.
From the minute Danny Boyle’s dazzling take on British heritage and culture opened the 2012 Olympiad, the nation – and the world – has been hooked.
Now, as the credits roll – Sir Chris Hoy, Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis – and the “legacy” is counted, fans will be left to dissect, replay and compare notes on their favourite Olympic moment.
Certainly, there is no shortage of heros, and many of them are Scottish.
Sir Chris Hoy is now the UK’s most successful Olympian of all time, some feat coming from a nation that has never missed a games in the modern era.
His fellow cyclist, Bradley Wiggins picked up a gold medal to go with his glorious victory in the Tour de France.
Jessica Ennis coped brilliantly with being the poster girl of the games to win the heptathlon, a gruelling contest covering seven disciplines.
After his Wimbledon heartbreak, Andy Murray played one of his finest matches to beat his SW19 nemesis Roger Federer.
And then there was Mo.
After picking up gold in the 10,000 metres, the indefatigable Farah made it a double in the 5,000, with a smile never far from his face.
The story of how he went from a Somali schoolboy with just a handful of English phrases in his vocabulary to world’s best is well known. But his humility and warmth will ensure it lasts long in the memory.
Muhammad Ali, himself a former Olympic gold medallist, once said: “Champions aren’t made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them – a desire, a dream, a vision.”
For many of the Olympians, there are none of the riches and fame lavished on the likes of Premier League footballers.
Year after year they train and hone their craft all for this moment and then, in many cases, it is over in seconds.
Along with the superstars such as Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps, the Olympics provided the watching world with a parade of unsung heros brought blinking into the sunlight for their few minutes of fame.
It is hard now to imagine the success of the Games was ever in doubt. The political crisis when G4S revealed it could no provide the promised security, the fears that the London transport system would collapse under the weight of millions of visitors, or that the games would be the target of a terrorist attack, all seem a lifetime ago.
In an era of spin and scrutiny, when every claim is challenged, the London Olympics have been universally welcomed.
Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, hailed the event as “absolutely fabulous”.
“I am a very happy and grateful man,” he said. “I am very happy with the Games.”
He admitted there were lessons that could be learned for Rio in four years time, but nothing that should stop the London back-slapping.
“Here and there things can be improved,” Mr Rogge said.
“No-one will pretend there is perfection in this world. I think the Games were absolutely fabulous, but here and there, there are issues we can tell the Brazilians ‘be careful for this, be careful for that’ –nothing fundamental of course.”
There was a happy buzz around the English capital. Police and stewards chatted happily with fans as they entered the Olympic village in Stratford.
American runner DeeDee Trotter said: “London is off the chain and that’s putting it mildly. I’ve never seen morning sessions packed out that way.
“Was it chaos? Yes. Was it good chaos? Absolutely.”
David Cameron has been at a number of events, attempting to bask in some of the reflected glory. The Prime Minister will hope the Games signal an upturn in the nation’s fortunes.
“You only need two words to sum up these Games: Britain delivered,” he said.
“We showed the world what we are made of, we reminded ourselves what we can do and we demonstrated that you should never ever count Team GB down and out.”
However, despite the patriotic coverage and the hoards of spectators draped in Union flags, the Games are, as ever, about more than just the home country. Jamaica’s Usain Bolt is the superstar. The world’s fastest man and most recognisable Olympian delivered in the 100m, 200m and relay, taking his own tally of gold medals to six. To the great man, they simply do not come in any other colour.
Bolt’s clowning around with Farah after both men had completed track doubles, copying each other’s victory poses, like a pair of giddy schoolboys, will be one of the most enduring images of the Games. Michael Phelps extended his Olympic record to 18 gold medals, David Rudisha broke the world record in the 800m, and Ye Shiwen, 16, was devastating in the pool and dignified out of it when American coach John Leonard hinted her performance could be down to doping.
Not only was the capital packed but, at home, the British public was transfixed by the Games on TV. Almost 16 million people tuned in to watch diver Tom Daley fulfil his dream of an Olympic medal on Saturday night, while just under 13 million watched Farah claim his second gold.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 25 mph
Wind direction: East
Temperature: 9 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: North east