There were a lot of tears in Britain today, yet if you asked many of the people who were crying, including me, they would not be able to give you specific reasons. It was very sad seeing the Olympic flag slowly slithering down the pole during its anthem, to be carried sombrely to the centre of the stage and handed over to Brazil for the next Games in 2016. I remember it very clearly when our own London Mayor, Boris Johnson, was handed the flag in Beijing, and it doesn't seem like four years ago. At the time I was very ill, wondering seriously if I was going to make it. Yet here I am today, having not onlywatched the Games but having actually played a small part in helping their success.
I guess we cried because the Closing Ceremony was very moving in some parts, yet those tears also celebrated our success in these Games, the fear that preceded them, and the relief that came last night. It was suddenly all over and we hope every glorious moment would have inspired younger, and older, Britons to personal discoveries and fulfilment. In a nutshell, we cried through pride, relief and loss: pride that we managed to pull it off despite the gloomy times, relief that all went well and so successfully, and the loss of something magical that had slowly grown on the population who supported it in their droves. By the final week, Britain had taken the Olympic Games to heart and there was not an empty seat in sight. Now all the fireworks, the flags and the happy athletes spelt the end, and the loss was tangible as the Olympic Flame was extinguished. However, first things first.
FINAL DAY MEDALS
The day began with the famed Marathon which took over London streets and was supported by tens of thousands of people. This race has often been dominated by European athletes but this time Africa came into its own with two Kenyans and a Ugandan. The Kenyans might have been on lesser form in their long distance races in this Olympics, but they made up for it somewhat in the most important race of the Games, taking the Silver (Abel Kirui) and Bronze (Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich) medals, while Ugandan, Stephen Kiprotich, took the Gold. As with tradition, they were presented with their medals during the Closing Ceremony by IOC chief, Jacques Rogge.
Britain also finished the Games with a great Gold medal in the super heavyweight boxing class. The winner, Joshua Anthony, was both ecstatic and surprised by his win, but it was a fitting end to the host country's amazing performance in these Games. 12 Years ago Britain had only one Gold medal to show for its efforts. Stung by that 'failure', much more funding was put into the sport by the government and other sponsors and this is the result - 29 Gold medals and quite a few others. We are rather proud of that!
Team USA continued their relentless dominance of the Games with their Basketball Gold medal. They beat Spain into Silver position, and underscored the sheer talent of all their athletes who have delivered right across the board. With 104 medals altogether, they can be well pleased. On the other hand, Team Italy was extremely unlucky in that it added the most medals to its tally on this final day - five - but had no golds among them, which left their rank unchanged on the medals table. But the day belonged to the Marathon and Boxing and they delivered in style.
THE CLOSING CEREMONY
As expected, the Closing Ceremony was a riot of colour, fun, iconic imagery of what makes Britain both famous and great, and, of course, presented another opportunity to showcase our amazing musical talent and our fashion. Though dead for some years now, Freddie Mercury of Queen was projected on to screen to chivvy up the crowd, Monty Python's Eric Idle sang to help us out of the blues, Ray Davis and George Michael started the music while the legendary Who finished it, with supporting roles from Annie Lennox, Jessie J, Take That, Fatboy Slim, and, of course, the Spice Girls, who looked and sounded much better than we had thought! Could we be missing them? Noooo…perish the thought!!
Perhaps because the music chosen was so awful, the Spice Girls stood out with their familiar popular hit - and they looked visually stunning. I think it was a difficult act to follow the genius of the Opening Ceremony, but despite its many flaws (especially with the mediocre songs selected), everyone enjoyed the spectacle. Prince Harry (who looked nervous and a bit overawed by the responsibility) and the Duchess of Cambridge represented the Queen,
The Olympic flag, having been replaced by a British one, was handed over to the Mayor of Rio di Janeiro, Eduardo Pais, who seemed genuinely excited to be waving it about in anticipation of 2016. In fact, if Brazil's brief presentation was anything to go by (which also included the great Pele), with its rhythmic carnival chic, I cannot wait for their opening ceremony.
Today I am back on duty for another week in what we call the Transition period to the forthcoming Paralympic Games. Praise was heaped upon all the Olympic volunteers in the Stadium because they truly made the Games the success it was, and not for any money, but the sheer joy and satisfaction of being involved. That goes to show the spirit of togetherness and unity in our country. We all share some amazing memories of these Games, relating to both victory and adversity, and enough to last a lifetime. For that, and our efforts, we can feel truly proud.
Many thanks to London2012.com for some stunning photographs and great Games coverage.
15 Gold medals were awarded in the following 10 sports:
*Athletics (Stephen Kiprotich, Uganda)
*Basketball (Team USA)
*Boxing(5) (Robelsy Ramirez Carrazana, Cuba; Vasyl Lomachenko, Ukraine; Serik Sapiyev, Kazakhstan; Igor Mekhontcev, Russian Fed; Anthony Joshua, Great Britain)
*Cycling, Mountain Bike (Jaroslav Kulhavy, Czechoslovakia)
*Gymnastics Rhythmic (Team Russia)
*Handball (Team France)
*Modern Pentathlon (Laura Asadauskaite, Lithuania)
*Volleyball (Team Russia)
*Water Polo (Team Croatia)
*Wrestling(2) (Tatsuhiro Yonemitsu, Japan; Jacob Stephen Varner, USA)
2012 OLYMPIC GAMES MEDAL LEADERS
(85 countries -28% of all those competing - shared the 302 medals available.)
1. United States 104 Total (46Gold, 29Silver,29Bronze)
2. China 87 (38Gold, 27Silver 22Bronze)
3. Great Britain 65 (29Gold, 17Silver, 19Bronze)
4. Russian Federation 82 (24Gold, 25Silver, 33Bronze)
5. South Korea 28 (13Gold, 8Silver 7Bronze)
6. Germany 44 (11Gold, 19Silver,14Bronze)
7. France 34 (11Gold, 11Silver 12Bronze)
8. Italy 28 (8Gold, 9Silver, 11Bronze)
9. Hungary 17 (8Gold, 4Silver, 5Bronze)
10. Australia 35 (7Gold, 16Silver 12Bronze)
For detailed results and LIVE viewings
BBC Sport (videos might not be accessible)
London2012.com (Great pictures)