Alan Hubbard: London 2012 - a triumph of the human spirit
Sunday 12 August 2012
When Jacques Rogge formally declares London 2012 to be "the best Games ever", as he will tonight, the Olympic Stadium should reverberate to thundering roars of "Hear hear", a deserved acclaim that surely will echo around the world.
Best Games ever? "That's for others to say, not me," said Seb Coe. Well, Rogge will say it for him and, for once, will mean it. And so will I.
Simply the best.
It is not a judgement to be made lightly because there have been some tremendous Olympics in my memory, not least those in Tokyo, my first in 1964, Barcelona, Athens and Sydney. But after these past two wondrous weeks, London stands atop the podium, having exceeded everyone's expectations.
It has been a wrench to dislodge Sydney from the consciousness as the greatest Games of the 12 I have attended, because there were aspects of those Olympics that were London's equal.
Most notably, the earthy warmth of the Aussies, but here, one of our most pleasant experiences has been to walk through a corridor of smiles to the Olympic Park and, once inside, to be clasped in a beguiling atmosphere of genuine delight that London is playing host to the world.
London has shown Britain at its best. Yet in some ways it has all seemed so un-British, for few would have expected to find us expressing ourselves with such abandon as our athletes went from triumph to triumph.
Certainly, for sporting excellence, few Games have come even close. How often have we heard "Amazing. Incredible. Fantastic" from the lips of the commentators, and, for once, agreed that they were not overstating or overselling what we were witnessing?
In all my years of covering sport, I never imagined I would hear wide-eyed youngsters passing through West Ham on the Jubilee Line excitedly discussing the finer points of heptathlon rather than Sam Allardyce's penchant for the long ball game.
For British sport, this has been a triumph of the human spirit. Not one engineered by backroom boffins built on loads-a-Lottery money and home advantage, but one built by the endeavours of dedicated athletes in many sports, endeavours that have been unprecedented and received with a pride that has been lacking in the nation of late.
"Inspire a Generation" has been the Games' slogan, and the hope is that they already have. "Not one generation, but many," is the tribute paid to 2012 by Germany's Thomas Bach, the International Olympic Committee member who is widely tipped to succeed Rogge next year. Whether it makes us a healthier nation depends on how long the euphoria lingers.
This has been a true Festival of Britain, one that has expressed itself joyously, if occasionally extravagantly, and, unquestionably, it has been worth it.
There had been fears of demonstrations; there were none, other than the brilliance of the athletes.
These Games have grabbed the imagination beyond everyone's wildest hopes, not least those of Coe himself.
The party's nearly over. Now comes the almost inevitable hangover before the Paralympians take centre stage to do it over again, and just as gloriously.
London 2012. Pure gold.
WWE Raw results: The power of the Yes! Movement dominates as Daniel Bryan eyes Wrestlemania 30 main event
Transfer news: Toni Kroos admits switch to Manchester United is 'a possibility for me'
Bayern Munich 1 Arsenal 1 player ratings: Who scored highest - Mesut Ozil or Santi Cazorla?
Bayern Munich 1 Arsenal 1 match report: German giants knock the Gunners out of the Champions League for the second successive season
Ian Wright breaks down in ITV documentary charting his rise to England and Arsenal striker
- 1 Watch: The student election Macklemore parody that isn't completely awful - and all the others that are
- 2 Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
- 3 First Kiss: Filmmaker gets 20 strangers to make out on YouTube with awkward results
- 4 Joanna Lumley’s garden bridge over the Thames gets £30m seal of approval from Government
- 5 Ian Wright breaks down in ITV documentary charting his rise to England and Arsenal striker
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
Katie Hopkins continues campaign to become Britain's most hated talking head with poorly timed Bob Crow tweet
Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised
The quiet diplomat: Catherine Ashton - recognised and admired in all the world’s troubled countries, yet ridiculed at home
Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate