Monday, August 13, 2012
THE LEGACY OF THE 2012 OLYMPICS
Like millions across the UK, I recently succumbed to Olympicitis, a recurring condition which I first contracted back in 1976 when, on a small black and white portable TV, I saw Brendan Foster win the Bronze medal in the 10,000m final at the Montreal Games.
Fortunately, it is an ailment that has brought feelings of elation and joy during the wonderful two weeks of the 2012 Olympics.
Not only did we see the nearest equivalent to a sporting Superman in the shape of Usain Bolt in the sprint races, but we cried along with Sir Chris Hoy when he became our most successful Olympian ever and burst with pride when the multi-talented Jessica Ennis lived up to the massive pressure of being the Games’ golden girl.
And who will ever forget the look on the face of Mo Farah as he crossed the line twice as gold medal winner to cement his place as a legend in World athletics.
We also saw two of the best in North Wales – Jade Jones and Tom James – become champions in their respective sports whilst Deiniolen’s Dave Railsford masterminded the continuing British dominance in cycling, carrying on seamlessly from his incredible feat with Bradley Wiggins in the Tour De France.
It is safe to say that Team GB has defied its own wildest expectations with third place in the medals table behind the USA and China.
In fact, with the record number of gold medals won in a modern Olympics, it is easy to forget how far we have come from the one win gained in Atlanta by Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent in 1996.
And whilst two thirds of the medals by the USA were in athletics and swimming, the range of golds won by Team GB has been incredible, justifying the money given by the Lottery Commission in supporting less popular sports such as canoeing, shooting, sailing and women’s boxing.
Indeed, who would have thought that you could get excited at the sight of a horse dancing to the theme from “The Great Escape”, but that’s what millions did during the dressage competition when Charlotte Dujardin, on her horse Valegro, produced the nearest equivalent to equine ballet we will ever see.
But the 2012 Olympics have not only been a sporting triumph for Team GB.
Ever since Bangor graduate Danny Boyle launched his incredible opening ceremony on an unsuspecting world, an audience of billions were reminded that this small island nation created the industrial revolution, the NHS, the Beatles, Harry Potter and the worldwide web.
And the singer Dizzy Rascal, born a stone’s throw from the Olympic village, was spot on last week when he said that the London Games will not only inspire millions of young people in the future, but will also make many proud of being British again.
Those cynics who were vociferous in their condemnation of the event, its costs, security and management have thankfully been silenced as everything progressed smoothly to create probably the greatest Olympics of recent times. Even the notorious British summer weather gave way to glorious sunshine during the outdoor events.
Therefore, one can safely say that the 2012 Olympics has been a triumph all round for Britain in so many different ways and it is vital that all of this success is not wasted as we go forward.
In fact, our leaders in politics, business and sports must now work harder than ever to ensure that we continue to get economic, sporting and social benefits from the Games and, more importantly, that this legacy lasts a generation and not just a fortnight.