i Editor's Letter: Inspire a generation


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The Independent Online


Did I miss anything? In truth, I did. When I last wrote here, the Games' narrative had just changed from Danny Boyle's prescient tribute to a multi-cultural, creative Britain to "Will we ever win Gold?"

I missed out, not on performances, because eventually technology (if not dreadful RAI TV and Sky Italia) lets you see most events, but back stories: the rise from obscurity of Jade Jones, Nicola Adams, Laura Trott and Luke Williams, and the bounce back from adversity of Pendleton and Ennis, not to mention heartbroken medallists apologising needlessly for silvers!

The Olympics is a smorgasbord for us all to take out what we want. For Americans Lochte and Phelps; for France Yannick Agnel; for China Ye Shiwen, and that's just swimming. Sadly for the Hatfields, Italy is exceptionally good at two of the least televisual events: fencing and shooting. Sir Chris Hoy? Charlotte Dujardin? Forget it, when you can watch yet another night of "beach-a-volley" on Sky or the drug cheat Alex Schwazer cry. Again! RAI did rave about how fantastic the Games were however. The London backdrop was wonderful. We burst with pride watching Mo Farah in a bar full of awestruck Italians. It made up a little for so many footballing humiliations.

Before the Games I wrote (20 July) "the infectious enthusiasm of volunteers and Games fans will surely drown out the misanthropes". And that the athletes will become the story. I'm so happy to have been proved right − for once. We returned in time to witness Usain and Mo, at the brilliant stadium amid a wall of noise, the like of which I have never known. Thousands of Union flag-clad fans in tears of joy, unleashing previously unknown latent passions at the obvious courage, skill and pure bloody determination of the Somali immigrant from Teddington who stole our hearts.

"Inspire a generation?" Not just one, Team GB. Not just one.