At the end of July, all eyes turned to London as the British capital hosted the Olympic games for the third time. Athletes and spectators arrived from all over the world, and the city was abuzz with volunteers in their bright outfits, giving directions and advice. There wasn’t long to wait for the first feat of sporting daring, which took place in the opening ceremony when the Queen parachuted out of a helicopter with 007 himself (well.....kind of).
There were a few hitches early on - the sight of empty seats at venues drew angry reactions from those who had failed to procure tickets - but problems were resolved fairly quickly and the general consensus was that the Games were a great success. The British got well and truly into the spirit of things, and Team GB athletes responded magnificently to the support of the home crowd, winning an incredible tally of 65 medals, including 29 golds. The gloom that had been hanging over the UK, as a result of the recession and a lack of faith in the government to resolve it, lifted palpably.
There was also a few firsts at this, the thirtieth Olympiad. For the first time, female athletes competed for Saudi Arabia, Brunei and Qatar , meaning that all eligible participating countries have now sent female athletes to at least one games. Women’s boxing was also introduced, meaning that for the first time, every sport had male and female participants.
The Paralympics followed two weeks later, and also made history, attracting a record number of 2.7 million spectators . Paralympic champions graced the front pages of newspapers as their able-bodied counterparts had the previous month, and certainly in the UK, awareness and interest in disability sport increased astronomically.
But what now that it is all over ? The motto of London’s Games was “inspire a generation”, and the athletes certainly did their part with their incredible, impressive and brave performances. Surely there are children (and indeed adults) who having watched the 2012 games will feel inspired to go out for a bike ride, to go for a swim, or maybe to take up a new sport altogether, instead of sitting inside and watching television. Sport is not only beneficial to the health, but is also a great way to make new friends and learn important skills, such as teamwork and respect for others. It is to be hoped that the true legacy of the London’s games will be the numerous people it inspired to take up a sport of some kind, either competitively or just for fun.