Amol Rajan: The evidence of how smashing Great Britain can be

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The Independent Online

We smashed it. Utterly, unrelentingly and almost unimprovably, we smashed it. Where I come from, to say you smashed it is to say you it did magnificently, brilliantly, with panache and skill and style – and then some. And who could argue that London 2012 answers to that description?

Let's start with some counter-factuals. History generally remains a remembrance of all the things that didn't happen, rather than contemplation of all the things that did. But it's a valuable exercise to think about what didn't happen over the past fortnight.

There wasn't a bomb. Fingers crossed, there won't be. Al-Qa'ida didn't blow up the Olympic Park, or the Velodrome, or Eton Dorney.

Think of the vast apparatus of state and military power that has gone into planning London's safety over the past few weeks. Think of their pride now.

The transport system didn't stop working. To a very great extent, the vast numbers of people flowing in and out were able to get punctual trains that promptly took them to and from destinations far away. Yes, there were tens of thousands of commuters, and yes it was busy; but there wasn't a crush.

We didn't flop in any single sport. In fact, we anti-flopped. We succeeded, thrived, excelled; we smashed it. We created new national heroes (Farah, Ennis, Trott, Gibbons, the Brownlees, the rowers, canoeists and so on); we enshrined established ones (Hoy, Pendleton, Ainslie and so on) and we laid the ground for future glories (Daley, to name just one).

We didn't bungle the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. Danny Boyle's production at the start of the Games was one of the very great musical and theatrical performances of the modern age.

We showed the world a confident, comfortable country, proud of its heritage and prepared for its future. We did, it's true, build a few unattractive objects, such as the ArcelorMittal Orbital, which for all its capacity to improve on proximity is a highly forgettable monument where an architectural masterpiece ought to be. There were also a disgraceful number of empty seats and the biggest test of these games will be their lasting, and hard to measure, impact on the poorest people in our country, especially far away from London.

But it would take a curmudgeon to award anything less than 9/10 to London. Here was imperishable evidence that modern Britain is a place where awesome things happen and world-beaters live. And the Paralympics haven't even started!