Didn't we do well! Celebrity reactions to London 2012

A triumph both on and off the track – viewers and participants give their verdict on the Games

My favourite part has to be all the fantastic support we had after getting silver. I know there will be a lasting effect on the country because Team GB built themselves from their success in Beijing, and have done so well. I think that this will push school sport up the agenda.

Zac Purchase

2012 silver medallist, lightweight double sculls

I have been reading the reports and gloating over the results. The Games have constituted a barely credible triumph for British athletes, for British organisational nous, for British hospitality, and even for British weather. The achievement deserves to live long in the memory.

Martin Amis


The opening ceremony was so impressive. The vision and imagination behind it were extraordinary. I'm hoping that the legacy will be that people will praise John Major. It was he who decided sport needed to be funded and so created the National Lottery. Without that we might have been floundering like we were in Atlanta. I think we had a terrible shock this time last year when the riots broke out, so there will be a real change in the way we think about our lives. Not just because we can cycle, swim and row, but because our armies of volunteers have given up their time to contribute so much.

Esther Rantzen

Journalist and TV presenter

Even though we will never, ever win a penalty shoot-out, we know now that we can excel at lots of other sports. We'd be mad not to carry on funding our athletes. I don't think there will be a permanent change; by the end of next week we'll be back to worrying about jobs and the economy – and cursing cyclists when we're driving. My favourite moments are Jess Ennis and Mo Farah leaving the field far behind to take gold in the heptathlon and 10K respectively, Taoufik Makhloufi dashing away with the 1500m gold, and Robert Harting hurdling to celebrate his discus triumph.

John McCarthy

British journalist and hostage in Beirut 1986-91

There were all the glorious moments when amazing athletes won, but my favourite was when I went to the Olympics myself. After everything I'd heard I was expecting mess and disaster, with no staff and general catastrophe, but after meeting the staff and volunteers I can say that each and every one of them was an absolute credit to Great Britain, and I'm proud they were representing us to the world.

Sarah Beeny

Property developer and presenter

I'd love to think that the Olympics will have an ever-lasting feelgood effect but all will be forgotten by September. My favourite moment was when Chad Le Clos beat Michael Phelps in the men's 100m butterfly. Phelps was his childhood hero and it was a dream come true for him to be racing beside him. I don't think he thought he would actually beat him. It was incredible to watch.

Pearl Lowe

Singer-songwriter and fashion designer

One thing that really made me smile was all the cycling back-up staff having their picture taken on the podium on Tuesday night in the velodrome. It was a reward for the enormous contribution they had made. British Cycling has had a record number of people joining and increased interest at open days held by clubs. This has obviously been a bit of a spike for us, but there has never been a greater number of people cycling, and I think this interest will continue. Another thing which should last is the role models provided by the Games. Someone like Laura Trott is a fantastic example for young girls.

Brian Cookson

President of British Cycling

I think the Olympics are an impressive example of national integration through sport. Flags normally represent war but, because of the Olympics, they represent national harmony. I think that the Olympics will have a considerable impact on the country. It has had so much news coverage I don't think it could be forgotten. It has obliterated all other news and has been all that people are talking about.

Tony Benn

Former Labour Party minister

The party spirit and togetherness caught me when I didn't expect it – on my journey home from the Olympic Park. Packed into a hot overland train where us Brits are normally stony-faced, pissed off and uncommunicative, I found that practically everyone had launched into lively conversations and laughter about their day. I had assumed that the group I was talking to had all arrived together. I was wrong. They had met just an hour before in the queue for the train. Will we all go back to ignoring each other when this is over?

Jamie Cullum


The games have been fantastic – the great success of Team GB has pulled the nation together in a rather remarkable way. It's a big success story, which is very heartening in a time of economic gloom. There'll be a positive legacy, I hope, in helping us feel we all belong to one big happy family and encouraging people to get involved in sport.

A C Grayling


I really enjoyed seeing how the Games captured everybody – even the cynics. I cried last Saturday in the stadium; it was unbelievable watching Jess, Mo and Greg. Within 45 minutes, I sobbed three times. That, along with seeing Chris Hoy, was my favourite moment. The legacy has to be about how the Games have inspired so many children – and adults. I hope finance is put into links between schools and clubs and getting proper PE teachers into primary schools. There are so many medallists we can use – we have to get these guys into schools and get others inspired.

Sally Gunnell

Olympic 400m hurdles champion, Barcelona 1992

I'd been fortunate enough to spend the day filming with [weightlifter] Zoe Smith and her mum, so my highlight has definitely been watching Zoe break a British record [for clean and jerk]. There were tears all round, and I got a real understanding of how much it means to the family to see a child compete. The feeling in London is so great that I believe it has to continue in some way. The fact that so many of Team GB are already focusing on Rio points us in the right direction.

Reggie Yates

DJ and presenter

Watching Usain Bolt was electrifying. He has an amazing personality and a body like a machine. For me it was amazing to be gripped by sports rather than dance and movement. The thing that annoys me, though, is that everyone is striving for gold. Medals are plural, and every medallist from the GB team should get the same acclaim. I think the 2012 Games will have an amazing effect on the Paralympics and that is really exciting, but when it is all over I think a gaping hole will be left.

Arlene Phillips

TV judge and former dancer

I think that the opening ceremony was the first time that someone put together a piece that perfectly reflected Britishness, that you would only get if you have come from Britain. It was a passionate piece about the history that makes us who we are. The Tory MPs were right to be scared by it because the public so fully embraced the all-embracing values that make Britain. The Games have been an emotional holiday where we have been able to bask in something positive and successful. I hope that we can maintain that sense of pride.

Tony Robinson

Actor, comedian and historian

I took my eldest son to see Usain Bolt, which was of course amazing. The atmosphere in there is just magical. I think everyone has got so caught up in the Games that when it all finishes there is going to be a sort of depression. The infrastructure that has been built up by the Olympics has done a lot of good. They have inspired young people, which will hopefully have a lasting effect.

Rob Da Bank

Radio 1 DJ

There have been so many amazing moments: when Chris Hoy became our greatest Olympian, Usain Bolt's races and Nicola Adams and Katie Taylor in the boxing for the pure delight it showed and the benefits to her family and to Ireland. The whole thing has been a lift for the nation. The legacy is that the Games have been a huge success in the eyes of the world, in terms of the opening ceremony - except Paul McCartney - the warmth and friendship of the crowds and their support for athletes like the Saudi Arabian girls and the amazing sportsmanship we've demonstrated even in defeat. We've been putting the 'great' back into Great Britain.

Max Clifford


I enjoyed the behind-the-scenes shots of Denise Lewis, Colin Jackson and Michael Johnson jumping up and down while watching Mo Farah win the 10,000m. The footage was an exciting contrast to their usual professionalism. The legacy is the buoyant memory of how great we've been and the warmth, wit, quirkiness, and individuality with which we've conducted the Games. And also how well the athletes, volunteers and supporters have conducted themselves. We will feel proud at how efficient we have been – a quality we value in others. We've not fumbled or hammed it up; we have vanquished all we have surveyed with tremendous cordiality.

Vanessa Feltz


I loved Usain Bolt during the 100m sprint final. There was so much doubt that he could do it, but in that moment he pulled it off! I don't know what the Olympic legacy will be. A good thing can fall apart quickly, it has to be maintained. But the Olympics give such a sense of devotion and dedication, especially for children. Athletes inspire people, it's about commitment, and if that happens, the games will leave a brilliant legacy.

Akram Khan

Contemporary dancer and choreographer, participant in the opening ceremony

My favourite moment happened when I was in France and a French athlete won bronze in the judo. She obviously didn't expect to win anything and was so ecstatic that she ran round the whole arena. It was the most delightful exhibition of happiness that I have ever seen. However, I think that the only real legacy that will come from the Games is that I have done absolutely no work and am now going to behind for the next two weeks!

Mark Steel

Columnist, author and comedian

It's been absolute magic. I think it has done fantastic things for women. They have been glorious, but not in a ball-breaking way, and their achievements will do great things for the feminist cause. Everyone goes on about multiculturalism being a load of crap, but it worked so well for the Olympics. People of all colours have had such camaraderie together. It would be a wonderful thing if that could happen across the country all the time.

Jilly Cooper


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