Next week is the first anniversary of the opening of London 2012, the £9bn sporting jamboree that unexpectedly silenced the cynics and reminded the British that, for all our faults, we are capable of being generous, welcoming, exuberant, efficient – and, in more senses than one, winners.
One year on, what remains from those heady days? This week, The Independent has examined the all-important Olympic legacy, and the verdicts have been mixed.
Statistics, some contradictory, suggest that the hoped-for booms in sporting participation and volunteering have, probably, yet to materialise (although figures due today may clarify the volunteering picture). School sport continues to struggle. And, as spending cuts bite, community sport has not been spared.
There has been good news too: the regeneration of east London; a significant slug of extra foreign investment; secure futures for the main Olympic venues. Other benefits are less quantifiable, but no less real: British companies winning more contracts abroad; a hint of a change in attitudes toward disability; elite athletes competing with a new self-belief.
The truth, as Lord Coe points out in these pages today, is that it is still too early to assess whether London 2012’s promised legacy has been delivered. It will be years before we can say with any confidence that a generation has, or has not, been inspired; or whether last year’s morale boost really did help the UK to turn the economic corner.
Yet next week’s anniversary is, nonetheless, a moment to reflect: to relive the weeks when the streets were filled with smiling volunteers and exotic visitors; when our athletes covered themselves in scarcely believable glory; and our habitual world-weariness turned to a collective conviction that, if you put your mind to it, anything might be possible.