London 2012 Olympics

In the weeks leading up to the 2012 London Olympics, the British media typically jumped on any negative story they could find in a bid to discredit and embarrass the organisers. And they didn’t have to look very far. Before a race had been run, or a medal had been won – TV, radio and newspapers were taking great delight in reporting the G4S security shambles, the anticipated Olympic lane traffic chaos and ticket allocation “difficulties.” On July the 17th – ten days before the opening ceremony, the Daily Telegraph revealed that “almost half the population thinks Britain is poorly prepared for the Olympics, the latest poll shows.”

But, its been brilliant. Lets be crystal clear – this Olympics has been the best one ever.
Too many magical moments to recount, but heres a few: Mo Farah had the nation screaming him over the line in the 10,000 and 5,000 metres, Jessica Ennis moved us to tears becoming the best all round athlete on earth, the Brownlee brothers thrilled us with their steely grit and determination in the Triathlon, Bradley Wiggins grabbed Gold – just a week after winning the Tour De France and Chris Hoy thundered around the cycle track to lay hands on his 6th Gold medal. No Brit has ever won 6 before. On top of all the other stars and stories lets not forget that we won 7 of the 10 Golds available in the Velodrome! Its been magnificent, moving and most importantly, its restored some much needed pride in ourselves as a nation. It feels good to be British right now.

London 2012 has inspired us all, from the opening ceremony, the success of our Athletes, to our amazement at how damn good the whole package has been. These games have come at a time when most people in the UK are squeezed by debt and rising prices, angry about cuts to services, furious about banks and bankers and enraged by ridiculous, arrogant and plain dumb political decisions – this Olympics, and Team GB’s extraordinary success has been a God send for restoring some sense of pride in the Union flag. Naturally the Coalition Government will weasel themselves onto news vox pops in the coming weeks to tell us all how “Good for Britain” this has been. They’ll creatively claim that the brilliant stadiums, excellent facilities and faultless organisation is all thanks to them. But we must remember that Tony Blair was Prime Minister when the bid for London 2012 was launched in Singapore in 2005, and the 25p “good causes” portion of your Lottery tickets has paid for it. So I do hope that Cameron and Clegg will do the dignified thing and stay off our screens – as they normally would at this time of the year anyway. This moment belongs to those who really deserve the credit, led by Chairman Sebastian Coe.

Sadly, its all over now. As the Olympic Flame is snuffed out and the celebrations turn to endless talk about “Legacy,” lets keep that positive spirit alive and apply it to all that we do. We don’t just have to be extraordinary for one event as part of some sporting showcase to the rest of the world. We have the ability to be this awesome all of the time. “Inspire a Generation” is a genius strapline. I hope that long after this remarkable achievement, Great Britain feels ready to compete to be the best in other areas of life too, not just sport. And maybe, just maybe our media reporters could try and keep an open mind about things instead of hysterically writing doom gathering, gloom inducing headlines at the drop of a hat?

Our total medal haul was 65! We took 29 Golds, 17 Silvers and 19 Bronzes. Incredible. Well done to every single athlete that took part, and especially well done to our brilliant Team GB members.

We are promised great things from the Paralympics too – Good luck to all Team GB participants in the 2012 Paralympics, starting on Wednesday 29th August.


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Author of The Clitheroe Prime Minister, and columnist in Northern Life magazine.

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