Monday, 13 August 2012

The real Olympic legacy

Well, we did it. And what a boost to our collective confidence it has been to host an Olympic Games which managed to be at the same time both slick and idiosyncratic, both competitive and inclusive. The closing ceremony may have lacked the scale and the sentiment of the opening ceremony, but one moment last night seemed to encapsulate the spirit of London 2012 - the signing singers and their performance of Imagine. Never have Lennon's lyrics seemed more poignant, as the athletes gathered to celebrate the end of an event that embodied so many of the song's aspirations.

Over the last couple of weeks, we have welcomed athletes regardless of their nation, colour or creed in a show of global solidarity that celebrated their hard work, dedication and, in many events, their team spirit. Every one of the athletes was a positive role model, and every one was accorded the respect that he or she deserved. I couldn't help wondering whether the world would be a better, safer and happier place if it was governed by athletics coaches rather than politicians.

Perhaps it won't encourage our youngsters to get off their sofa and into their trainers, but inspiring a generation - as London 2012 set out to do - is not just about sport. Of course, the athletes' achievements are remarkable - but they weren't the only stars of the show. The volunteers who both delivered Danny Boyle's vision for the opening ceremony and acted as "games makers" - welcoming, directing and assisting athletes and spectators - demonstrated an altruism that seems to have been elusive in recent times.

So my hope for the Olympic legacy is that we hold on to those values that really made London 2012 an event of which we can be rightly proud: confidence, tolerance, respect and altruism. London in August 2012 seems a million miles from London in August 2011.

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