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Will London 2012 change Britain for ever?

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David Bond | 07:54 UK time, Monday, 10 September 2012

It has been a genuine privilege to cover the Olympic and Paralympic Games. To witness first hand the many unforgettable sporting moments has been something very special.

But is Britain a different country and London a different city today because of the festival of sport that has just finished? And, more importantly, will it make a lasting impact on us all for years to come, long after the memories have faded?

The successful staging of the Games has given the country a massive confidence boost at a time when there are so many concerns - economic and otherwise - to trouble us.

From the creation of the Olympic Park in a run-down part of east London, to the torch relay and the smooth running of the creaking Victorian transport infrastructure, the Games have been delivered with precision and impressive purpose.

All the anxieties of the preceding seven years - over costs, security and transport - now seem slightly ridiculous. They weren't. We were right to be nervous. Staging the Olympic and Paralympic Games are the biggest undertaking any country can take and do not come cheap at £9bn of public money.

On many occasions, as with the G4S security shambles or the sometimes frustrating ticket sales process, the media were right to be critical. But from the moment Danny Boyle's opening ceremony bounded into life, presenting a vibrant and confident vision of modern Britain, the concerns have melted away. In their place came an intoxicating, mesmerising and very un-British wave of happiness and pride. Even during that five-day wait for Team GB's first gold medal. the smiles and enthusiasm remained undimmed.

I remember that first day of British gold, watching as rowers Helen Glover and Heather Stanning powered to victory at Eton Dorney, accompanied by a wall of noise usually reserved for football grounds. And then to Hampton Court to see a carnival of humanity lining the streets around the old palace as cyclist Bradley Wiggins added Olympic gold to his historic Tour de France victory. The sun was out and it was simply great to be British.

As the gold rush gathered pace, creating new stars and confirming British icons, so the national mood became more and more joyous. Everyone seems to have been touched. In the United Kingdom, 50.2m people - 87% of the population - watched at least 15 minutes of Olympic action.

The Paralympics, too, captivated the country in a way never seen before. Television audiences have been huge - 11m for the opening ceremony and 3.6m for the opening night of athletics - but the fact 2.5m people bought tickets to see disability sport for themselves tells an even greater story.

Who would have thought people would be having water-cooler conversations about an amputee sprinter called Jonnie Peacock, who won 100m gold by beating legendary South African Oscar Pistorius, the pioneering face of Paralympic sport?

Peacock wins Paralympic gold in the Olympic Stadium. Photo: AFP 

As Lord Sebastian Coe said in his closing address on Sunday, we will never view disability or disability sport in the same way again. London and Britain have taken the Paralympics to a new level, the greatest Games ever according to Sir Philip Craven, the president of the International Paralympic Committee. I asked one minister whether he ever imagined we would be talking on the final Sunday in such celebratory terms. "Never in my wildest dreams," was his reply.

While there was confidence among the organisers that the Games would be a success, they expected many more bumps in the road. There were some issues to deal with - empty seats and, believe it or not, cyber hackers from Iran and the Far East targeting the official London 2012 website - but, as with most problems, they were repelled. For the daily Cobra meetings, normally used to dealing with diplomatic rows, security threats and Heathrow meltdowns, this was the stuff of trivia. For a country with such a poor track record in delivering sporting grand projects, here was one we got right.

Some of this feelgood factor may be superficial, of course. Some of it may be because I have spent the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London and not in Wales or Scotland where the mood may have been very different. But I don't think so. So why was London 2012 such a triumph?

Team GB and ParalympicsGB delivered success in abundance, lighting the touch paper for the party atmosphere that accompanied the events. Britain won 29 golds at the Olympics and 34 at the Paralympics. Although the Paralympians did not finish second in the medal table as planned, they exceeded their medal target of 103 medals overall, ending with 120, 18 more than in 2008.

From Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps to Oscar Pistorius and Alan Oliveira, there were some amazing international moments, too. Sporting federations spoke of the preparations being among the best they have ever encountered, with the village and venues designed to bring the best out of the competitors.

The biggest cheers at the Paralympics closing ceremony were reserved for the 70,000 staff and volunteers, otherwise known as the 'Games Makers'. They deserve every bit of credit. They have given their time freely and made these Games function smoothly.

In so doing, they may have offered us an unexpected legacy from these Games and done more for the Big Society than Prime Minister David Cameron could have ever hoped for. As for the military, their involvement may have been clouded by initial controversy, but their cheery and professional presence made a huge difference and only added to the sense of national occasion.

But these Games were sold on the promise of a legacy. The overwhelming success has created an even greater opportunity. The challenge now for Government and governing bodies is not to drop the ball. Already, clubs and federations are reporting a big spike in interest. I have been told rowing clubs are experiencing an upsurge in interest from teenage girls on the back of the success of Britain's women, while 30,000 people have been trying to join hockey clubs since the close of the Olympics.

The Government's commitment to maintain funding for elite sport at the same level as in the years leading up to London was a significant moment and should allow Britain's athletes a bit of certainty ahead of the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

But while elite sport is now a well-oiled industry churning out medals every four years, school sport and grass roots participation remain the missing links in the chain. School sport, in particular, is a mess that has suffered damaging cuts at exactly the wrong moment. Ministers and Education Secretary Michael Gove must now rush to put this right while the warm glow of London 2012 is still being felt.

The London organising committee's slogan of 'Inspire a Generation' sounded corny at first, but there have been so many spellbinding moments that young people simply must have been touched by sport. This opportunity must not be wasted and the pride, passion and purpose which made London 2012 such a success must now be applied to delivering proper, lasting change to our sporting culture and infrastructure. As Lord Coe reflected after the last burst of fireworks had lit up London, that job is only just beginning.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    The Games is something we should be very proud of. The organisation and everyone that contributed did a fantastic job. It fair to say it exceeded many peoples expectations.

    This won't change the country but its a great reminder of what we can attain when we put our differences aside and work collectively to achieve a common goal. Its a wonderful starting point and something that we can reflect on for generations to come.

    I have friends from various countries who have been very impressed with the warmth and hospitality of the British public, cheering for other countries and the all around happiness. It's great to get that type of feedback.

  • Comment number 2.

    "For a country with such a poor track record in delivering sporting grand projects, here was one we got right"
    Do not agree with that at all.
    The Commenwealth Games, Euro 96, Rugby World Cup....of course, silly me - they were all complete failures..

  • Comment number 3.

    This just proves that Britain > America.

    Less guns, Less religious bias, Less political bias, Less unequal treatment etc. Shame we keep cosying up to all these countries instead of showing them how great we are. People in US don't even know what the Paralympic games are. What a joke. If we had the same land mass and population size as America we would perform much better than them.

  • Comment number 4.

    David,

    As much as I have enjoyed every bit of my time in the Olympics, there is one thing that still very much irks me.

    The Games Makers have been utterly incredible, and they deserve every bit of praise they are receiving. However, it seems the country and the media can't seem to grasp the fact that there were thousands of other volunteers involved apart from the Games Makers who actually gave up more of their time (and in my case, money) to be part of the Games in some way. As a performer in the Opening Ceremony, it has been slightly irritating that us volunteers have not been congratulated or praised as the Games Makers have been.

    I don't want to sound bitter, because I certainly am not, and this is not an attack on the amount of praise the Games Makers have had. But it is an attack on the fact that the media can't seem to thank all the volunteers that do not wear purple uniform. We all put lots of hours and commitment into our varied jobs, and it would be nice if the BBC would recognise us too.

  • Comment number 5.

    Totally agree it won't change the country but has certainly given a feel good factor to everyone the park is magnificent such a shame its being considered for redevelopment... Should be the hub of GB athletics.... Inspiring a generation

    I totally agree that School Sports is in a bit of turmoil at the moment no funding cost cuts sub standard facilities and equipment.... Particularly in the training of the PE teachers with what the government determine over subscribed..... but many schools hugely under staffed in sport, talented want to be PE Teachers can't get in and seek other employment. This is where you will find the talent, you need the coaches/ PE Teachers to nurture that talent, but there are huge gaps between schools, grassroots and then elite with the right funding and guidelines in place these can be brought closer together and a whole talent pool of athletes can rise year upon year.

  • Comment number 6.

    #4 - Adam

    Shut up mate. The reality is that when people talk about Games Makers they are talking about all volunteers. Noone has a clue that you volunteered, but are not called a 'Games Maker'. As far as we are concerned you are a 'Games Maker' because you were a volunteer for the Olympics / Paralympics. You are getting hung up on terminology / definitions.

  • Comment number 7.

    Once the hype has died it'll just be the same old britain, funding will get cut, so folk wont be able to or will find it harder to take up new activities, disabled folk will still see cuts to their benefits.

    So how they expect there to be a legacy is anyones guess.

    They were just empty sound bites from seb coe last night im afraid.

  • Comment number 8.

    @2

    I believe the adoption of the Olympic spirit and our humble & visionary interpretation of it is what sets this event apart. It is unlike any other sporting event in my mind.

    We will certainly host more global events and will be very successful. I feel these global events lack 'the spirit' or certainly have a different focus. They don't bring people together in the same way.

    Its possibly the one single thing I've learned about the Olympics that I never expected to. Bizarrely I was quite downbeat after China. I was like "wow, how do you top that!" And the truth is that you don't have to, you just do it your own way. And because of this I can't wait for Rio.

  • Comment number 9.

    What I find disappointing is that the political parties are talking about the possibility of cross party discussions to form a committee to discuss the best way to make the most of the games and deliver the legacy. This should have been done 7 years ago when we won the bid and be in a position to capitalise now. By the time they get the fingers out of their arses and actually do something, the Rio games will probably have been and gone and the boat is entirely missed. It was a magical few weeks of sport and the politicians need make some announcements now and act on them ,on what they are going to do to fuel the nations desire for sport. If not, in a few months time, it will be entirely forgotten and we will be back to the football dominated landscape we have always had.

  • Comment number 10.

    'Some of this feel-good factor may be superficial, of course. Some of it may be because i spent the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London and not in Wales or Scotland where the mood may have been very different. But i don't think so'. Er...no David. You were right the first time. The mood was very different. Hardly anyone could care less about the london games up here. Thankfully, independence is on it's way so we will never have to put up with all this utter guff ever again.

  • Comment number 11.

    Scottish independence - whatever man. Won't happen because Scotland is too reliant on Britain as a whole. Reality is that Scotland is a small nation. It will do well to qualify for another world cup in football and survive on its own. It is also true that most Scottish people do not want independence - but they don't make any noise, unlike the SNP and pro-independence people. It will be hilariouis when the vote comes in as a 'no' to independence. Lots of eggs on faces.

  • Comment number 12.

    Will be even more hilarious watching the UK economy try to do without north sea oil revenues very soon!! Good luck!!

  • Comment number 13.

    I probably should have said what's left of the UK or the UK economy! Or i could have said it will be hilarious watching what's left of the UK armed forces trying to find somewhere to park all those rather expensive nuclear subs!! Good luck again!!

  • Comment number 14.

    Not going to happen mate. Living in a dream world. Your views are extreme - the middle way (i.e., everything in moderation) is the way forward. None of this far left malarky and far right malarky.

    Also - saw a lot of Scots were loving the Olympics, especially when Hoy was on.

  • Comment number 15.

    The games were a good spectacle and gave those interested some enjoyment, but now is the time to get back to reality of a Britain heavily in debt and in economic and social decline

  • Comment number 16.

    David. I thought that "inspire a generation" was a corny line. But on a beach over the summer my 5-year old was inventing ways to to the long jump (big sand pit), triple jump, hurdles, running, discus (frisbee) Shot put (pebble) and even pole vault and javelin (using a plastic spade - less successful). He watched all the major events on TV, cheered as Team GB atheletes were competing and has learnt the words to the national anthem! He is now trying to decide whether he wants to be a jevelin thrower or an "Olympic table tenniser" when he grows up.

    "Inspire a Generation?" Job done.

  • Comment number 17.

    People forget that the Games were over 4 times over budget, the ticketing was a shambles and the Army had to be brought in, so that the Games could go ahead in the first place. One of the most embarrassing things, was using the army to fill row upon row of empty seats. I wonder what the final bill is going to be?

  • Comment number 18.

    Sport's a luxury, an entertainment & a placebo. It doesn't make much difference to most people in the world, let alone in just one country. In most cases it's harmless enough but the media's coverage of the Olympics is just the most recent example of its constant manipulation of its recipients, in the tradition of Dianagate, the celebrity culture & the latest Windsor wedding.

  • Comment number 19.

    I do laugh whenever I read or hear that the celebrated Games Makers are a vindication of the Big Society concept. There's a significant difference between volunteering one fortnight out of your life to stand around waving a pink foam hand, hand out maps or flog programmes just to be part of the Olympics, and doing some of the rather unpleasant jobs that society needs doing full-time for little or no pay. Anyone who thinks otherwise is deluded.

  • Comment number 20.

    Hopefully we will now see the end of the demonising of the disabled as benefit scroungers by the media and politicians in this country

  • Comment number 21.

    Was doing some gardening yesterday and heard some kids on the street playing down the road, arguing about who was going to get to be Mo Farah this time!

    Whilst it all might not have been an easy path to get to where we are now, it would be criminal to not try and capitalise on the positive legacies from the Games in some way before our fabled national cynicism kicks in again.

  • Comment number 22.

    Change Britain forever? Yes, it will leave a mark, and probably a step-change for the better in the public image of disability. But those with disability are not all paralympians or capable of being such: I couldn't have got there as a spectator. Autistic folk still encounter "Autism? oh, like Rain Man". The public picking up from 2012 a similar positive but partial image on physical disability has its problems.

  • Comment number 23.

    2. Totally agree.

    And we can add Wimbledon, London Marathon and the Open Golf every year amongst many other events that happen on a daily basis which pass off without the merest blip.
    Rather predictable to see the typical BBC self loathing back the day after the games end.
    We have always been champion sporting hosts and in the last decade we have become amongst the best participants as well.
    Shame on you Mr Bond. Do some research.

    PS
    White Wizard - no oil left mate (none thats easy to extract anyway!) so go troll elsewhere please.

  • Comment number 24.

    If these events encourage kids to participate and adults to volunteer to help more at club level it will be a start. Money is secondary....

  • Comment number 25.

    Well whitewizard its a pity you didn't enjoy the Olympics and found it 'utter guff'. I think you missed out there because of your cynicism. I hope you enjoy Glasgow hosting the Commonwealth Games, I will too.

  • Comment number 26.

    Spent wk 2 of the Olympics in France on holiday, evenings watching it in the bar with the French and Dutch holidaymakers. the atmosphere in the bar was great, and my new french friends said they were now glad it was in London as they could not imagine Paris doing as good a job!

    Got tickets for the Paralympics, saw Whitehead's incredible 200 m gold and cheered the guy round the 1500 m 7 minutes behind the winner. Never known an atmosphere like it.

    Don't know if there will be a 'legacy' from all that, but it certainly portrayed GB in a very good light around the world, and hopefully will also improve our attitudes to disability.

  • Comment number 27.

    As a family and taking our granddaughter we managed to attend 3 different Paralympic events 2 at the Olympic Arena and 1 at Brand Hatch. We were on all occasions totally in awe of the competitors, their spirit and determination not to let their disability get in their way. A huge lesson to many we felt, but will it last, I sadly think not. We will as many say be back to the cut back, the price rises ect ect ect.

  • Comment number 28.

    @25

    At least you're talking about Glasgow 2014. All the BBC seems to talk about is Rio.

    Don't expect Auntie Beeb to Give the Glasgow Commonwealth Games the same sort of coverage or respect.

    P.S. Notice no big Lottery funding for it. After all it's not "London".

  • Comment number 29.

    David, What did you actually mean by "For a country with such a poor track record in delivering sporting grand projects, here was one we got right"? I think you might mean the delays over the rebuilding of Wembley Stadium? Other than that I think we've done well in redeveloping Twickenham, building the Millenium Stadium, building the Emirates, stadium, converting the Commonwealth Games stadium into the Etihad Stadium, maximising the use of the Manchester Velodrome post Commonwealth Games, building new international standard cricket grounds at Durham, Southampton, Cardiff..........

  • Comment number 30.

    ........or if you meant big sporting occasions then Euro 96, Manchester Commonwealth Games were hardly failures , and Wimbledon, big Test matches, Ryder Cups, 6 Nations seems to go off pretty well. I expect will mess up the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, the 2015 European Hockey tournamnet and the 2017 World Athletics Championships though,,,,

  • Comment number 31.

    thewhitewizard said: "Hardly anyone could care less about the london games up here. Thankfully, independence is on it's way so we will never have to put up with all this utter guff ever again."

    How very sad, I feel sorry for you. The rest of the world enjoys the games, appreciates the display of sporting excellence, the dedication of thousands of volunteers, and all you can do is sound like a grump.

  • Comment number 32.

    I reckon the government has about ten days to show what it intends to do with the 'buzz' the Olympics has created. Surely by getting all the excited kids into sports they will help turn the tide of obesity and chronic fixations with staring at screens. And the kids can learn about being a member of a team, playing - win or lose - with pride, and set themselves up for a better life. The guys I know playing in a vets football league love their afternoon out, both the exercise and the social links it fosters. And all because we got the sports bug as kids...

  • Comment number 33.

    Not everyone was into the olympics. It is hard to see how it will benefit all of us, for most it will make no difference. A few bike manufacturers might benefit for a while. I fail to see how it will have helped our economy, some big companies gained macdonalds and the others, while lots of smaller businesses lost out, swings and roundabouts. in a few months it will be fogotten to most people, then the reality of the mess we are in will return. I hope there are no politicians out there, who think they played any part in the success of the games, because they did not.

  • Comment number 34.

    However much the cynics and naysayers may wish otherwise, the Games have already made a really positive impact.

    Over the last seven weeks, my team at work (age range early twenties to over sixty) have changed from apathetic Games sceptics to avid Olympic/Paralympic fans.

    Not content just to watch, they have taken inspiration not only from the athletes, but also the Games Makers and have taken that inspiration into their daily lives - everything from taking back up long-neglected sports, through to doing voluntary work in the local community and charity-fund raising.

    Of course some of this will drop off again in due course, but the two Games have not only re-awoken some long-lost sense of "community spirit", but some genuine pride not only in our sporting achievements but in the nation as a whole.

    My colleagues have taken inspiration, my teenage children have taken inspiration and even my 75 year-old mother-in-law have taken inspiration !

    Inspire a generation - NO, the Games have inspired FOUR generations!

  • Comment number 35.

    The games were brilliant. I was lucky enough to enjoy great spectacles at both and I couldn't help but get swept up in it. It was an incredible achievement by our country, both from competitive and organisational perspectives and we can be very proud of these going forward.

    What needs to be done now, though, is a different matter:

    - LOCOG have still yet to fully decide what to do with the facilities, namely the Olympic stadium. This needs to be addressed extremely quickly, otherwise the debate will rage on for years and we will not be able to really deliver on that promise of legacy that is so widely used when discussing these games.

    - While I understand that we are in a time of recession, now is the perfect opportunity to get people either into or back into sport. It could resolve crime, as kids will now have something to do and focus on, it could pour some money back into the ecomony through payment for use of facilities and it could lead to less of a strain on the NHS, due to the promotion of health in the British public. Lottery funding is a good step, but this can only go so far. It needs a better and more rigid infrastructure so that we can create a better environment for sport, both on a casual and on a competitive level. This has all the potential to create a better environment for many people, I feel.

    - We, as Brits, need to believe in ourselves and each other. If we can put on events like this, and many others, this only serves to prove to us that we can do anything if we set our minds to it. Yes, it may all seem very doom and gloom at the moment - the recession, unemployment, crime rates this, healthcare cuts the other...but the truth is that we CAN do well and we CAN make sure we get out of bad situations. We have before, why not now? All we have to do is actually try and pull in the same direction, like we did during the games, and then we'll get there.

    Before that, though, I wish to congratulate Lord Coe and everyone involved in both games for all of their hard work. It was truly incredible.

  • Comment number 36.

    #10 Whitewizard = no idea where in Scotland you've been but I'm in Ayrshire and virtually everyone I've spoken to has been glued to the Olympics and Paralympics. Miseryguts.

  • Comment number 37.

    Sadly it won't change the country at all, other than perhaps a new found and welcome consideration of what people who were once written off as "disabled" can actually do!

    The run-up to the Olympics showed Britain at its absolute worst with "commentators" bemoaning our appalling record at staging major events, without ever actually naming a failed event. We were beset with apparent scandals about ticketing, about organisation about marketing...about everything.

    The venues were completed on time with scant reporting. The IOC claimed itself to be highly satisfied with scarcely a column inch of reporting as the griping and sniping continued....and then it's a massive, extraordinary success, it works seamlessly, everything is sold-out and suddenly the very same media outlets pouring the "brown-stuff" from a great height can't get enough of it. The gold medal for utter hypocrisy!

    Perhaps what it reveals is that, in actual fact, the real Britain is full of highly talented designers, architects, engineers, project managers and administrators. It's packed with dedicated athletes and sportsmen/women from all walks of life and from across all communities. It's stuffed with people willing to give up their time to volunteer to help out. It's filled with people who want to travel from all four corners to shout themselves hoarse in support of athletes from all nations. What a fantastic country...what a place to live.

    What it also reveals is that the our public debate "space" is populated entirely with the "other Britain"... the people who can't actually DO anything at all. The people who live in principled opposition to everything. The people who can pen a 1000 word character assassination before lunch but who couldn't organise a raffle, the people who grumble because the torch relay isn't coming down their street. A country in which only 20% of MPs have ever held a job outside politics and in which only a staggering 5% of those MPs possess a degree in a technical subject! These were the people who owned the whole debate before the olympics started

    For a few weeks the real Britain turned out for what was probably the most uplifting and affirming thing I have ever seen in this country. The "Other Britain" was briefly shamed into silence or, in some cases, a brazen attempt to steal the credit. These people have not gone away and, given a few weeks, will reemerge blinking to ask questions about "legacy" without really understanding what that means and how it could be delivered. As we speak, photographers are on 24 hour standby to snap the first weed seen growing out of the Olympic Park!

    It's the tyranny of the talentless!

  • Comment number 38.

    The impact of this is huge (and being missed by the sports media).

    My children's athletics club (Bristol and West) had over 140 new inquiries during the Olympics and my sons running group has shot up from 8 to 19.

    There are similar stories all over the place

    Come on BBC et al. report these kind of things.

  • Comment number 39.

    Anglophone, I thank you. You have just put into words what I have been feeling for a long time now. The constant need for the news media to fill pages of newspapers and 24 hour rolling news channels means that they are always looking for an angle, invariably negative, on which to report. The vast majority of the people of this country are decent, curious, accepting, tolerant, kind, humorous, friendly. However that isn't 'news' so the focus is always on the minority of those who commit crimes, show no inclination to work, particpate in a riot etc etc to the extent that we all become brainwashed into thinking that Britain is a horrible place to live. It isn't and the rest of the world have seen what we're all about and have been impressed - and so should we be................that's before the sniping starts again....

  • Comment number 40.

    I'm a bit of an old republican cycnic, but even I enjoyed the sporting endeavours of the Olympians and Paralympians.The only blot on the landscape for me (apart from our ntaional anthem (but that's my problem) was the often gushing unprofessionalism of some of the commentators and their vapid attempts to speak for all of us, as in: "the whole nation is cheering" or "the whole nation is in tears". No it wasn't. My favourite, as the 400m wheelchair racers approached the winning line with a gold for GB: "Everyone in the stadium is up on their feet!" Ahem.
    Claire Balding was good though - estblishment, female and gay!

  • Comment number 41.

    Perhaps BBC can also adjust its frame of reference. Summary sport bulletins that survive on the football, rugby, cricket and golf (normally English and male versions) need to be broadened. Do some research on yourself. How much air time in the news24 sport summary slot did you allocate to each of the above, compared to the air time to ANY women's sport apart from tennis, and any 'disabled' sport? Give us the figures for 2011 please.

  • Comment number 42.

    While all the journalists have been dazzled by the shining gold medals, the politicians are busy destroying any chance of a legacy, as reported by the BBC:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-19291911

    31 school playing fields to be gone forever...during the Olympics!!
    Come on journos, wake up and hold these Orwellian double-speaking politicians to account.

  • Comment number 43.

    Lazy journalism. Can you tell us which bits of the HS1 from St. Pancras to Stratford, the Jubillee Line or the DLR are 'creaking Victorian transport infrastructure'. Also the weather is SE England is much better than the BBC cliche of constant rain - London is one of the drier capital cities in the world

  • Comment number 44.

    Perhaps this is not the right time for my comment, because I think we really should enjoy the moment, but...

    The question "Will London 2012 change Britain for ever?" is badly conceived. Surely, it should be "How do we ensure London 2012 changes Britain for ever?" There is much more to do.

    If watching those dedicated athletes teaches us anything, it should be that improvements and changes don't happen unless we make them happen. Those athletes were not born members of the sporting elite. They trained hard, overcame barriers and deployed dedication.

    Similarly, London 2012 won't change anything of itself. People's attitude and dedication will make the changes.

    I'm not wanting to take anything away from London 2012. I thought it was absolutely fantastic! And I hope it has provided an impetus and a confidence to make changes. But the danger is, if the question we ask is "Will London 2012 change Britain?", then it will be too easy to answer with a "Ah, London 2012 didn't change Britain" in a few months time, as though the changes would somehow happen as an automatic consequence.

    Instead, we have to recognise that London 2012 was a great starting point, and it provided a fantastic demonstration of what we can do. But now it is the responsibility of us all to consider what we can do to help bring about any change that is required, and then to do our bit with the same dedication as the athletes we have so enjoyed watching.

  • Comment number 45.

    Dear Mr Bond,
    I am sure that you have had a wonderful time over the past few weeks being paid, and lavishly entertained, to simply report on a subject close to your heart.(sport). It is therefore no surprise that you only see things through rose tinted spectacles, and that your article is so one sided. Not surprising that you work for the BBC.
    Please wake up and smell the coffee!!
    The cost of the games was 4 times more than we were told they would be, when the bid was first made. Politicians and commentators lied to the public, just to con people into not objecting to the money being spent.
    The so called legacy which will remain will at best be the regeneration of a small area of inner London. The cost for this is a minimum 9 billion UKP, and I suspect over time, the actual cost will be reviewed upwards.
    For the rest of the UK, I am sure that some people have been entertained watching things of interest to them. (fencing, judo, table tennis to name a few). However in 3 months time, those memories will be in the dim and distant past. All that will be left, is paying for this jamboree.

  • Comment number 46.

    Lord Coe for next Mayor of London!

  • Comment number 47.

    Ronnie P. Total government expenditure for 2012-13 is budgeted at £676.6 billion. Paying £9 billion over a period of 8 years leading up to the Games is considerable yes, but microscopic in terms of overall expenditure, and a substantial proportion of that was funded through business, not taxpapyers. The regeneration of an extremely run down area of East London, the provision in the future of new homes and communities, the sporting legacy, the intangible effects on trade/businses by GB being seen as a good place to do business, the inspiration on young people - if only 5% decide to live more healthily the NHS could save around £1billion........ Who knows but I think it was worth it.

  • Comment number 48.

    Broken britain is a phrase coined by the media who want to generate interest in their biased stories. If the people who created the phrase "broken britain" (eg, the daily mail) wanted to fix broken britain, they have the public viewability to instill constructive attitudes in the public. But they don't want to do that.

    Also, politicians will successfully hijack any positives that come out of the games, for their own means.

  • Comment number 49.

    The games are indeed a big and bold success. Now Mr Cameron has to do something equally as bold.

    How about world class sporting infrastructure for each city in the country and money for youth clubs and Schools. Its no use inspiring a generation if they cant access facilities.

    We need to spend money on infrastructure anyway - how about creating something that builds on this success and is accessible for everyone. Ultimately it may even get the kids off the street and out of the hands of the gangs.

    It may not come cheap - but we should ask ourselves what we want to be in the future and go for it.

  • Comment number 50.

    I love lamp

  • Comment number 51.

    Britain is a good country man. People living in a dreamworld if they think it isn't (do they want to go live in Iraq?).

    The only thing that Britain needs to do is increase participation in sport (whatever it is). Getting people fit and active is the most important thing. If you are good at a sport then you will always be able to find someone to help you improve and get into competition. We don't need more competitive sport, we just need people to take part in it and things will flow from there.

  • Comment number 52.

    Legacy?
    What about all the foreign corporate guests who have seen a country embrace sport, been lifted up by the general positivity of everyone they met and now see Britain as a much more positive place to do business. Even the French President enjoyed his stay.
    They will remember the games makers, the general helpfulness of everyone they met and the fact that despite the naysayers neither Heathrow nor Transport for London fell over.
    How many people from abroad saw their pre conceptions of Britain blown away day by day in a good way on the tv?
    To top matters the sun came out most days and most nights there was a lovely sunset over a clear sky behind the swimming pool and Olympic stadium.
    The Olympics and Paralympics have been the best advert for Britain for many many years and for those mockers out there you obviously know the price of eveything and the value of nothing.

  • Comment number 53.

    I think that the paralympics has made a difference to perceptions in the UK, can't talk for the rest of the world BUT they have one fundamental problem, they are not inclusive of all disabilities, specifically learning disabled people. That means about half the disabled population are kept out (and I use those words carefully) of the paralympics because their disability isn't recognised.
    ChrisBrown@22 makes a valid point about Autism and how it is perceived -- would someone like to guess how many sports actually have a disabled classifcation autistic people? My son is Autistic, races in cycle races and has been competing against the likes of Sarah Story and other gold cycling medallists but has no chance of competing internationally. Needs to be looked at.

  • Comment number 54.

    Unfortunately elite sport needs the clubs and school sport to supply the elite sports persons and I can not see any real fun ding to these either now or in the future due to the Labour legacy of debt.

  • Comment number 55.

    Hopefully there is a way back peripat. There were 120 learning disabled athletes at the Games, and yes they have struggled to recover from the reaction to when the Spanish team cheated at Sydney, but at least the door is back open and work needs to be done on sorting out suitable classifications.

  • Comment number 56.

    As a Brit living abroad for the last 13 years, the Olympics and Paralympics made me very proud to be British again for the first time in a long time. The performances of the athletes, the fantastic organisation, the happy face of the public cheering on the sport. All made me very proud.

    However, the comments of some of the miserable sods on this feed remind me why I left in the first place.

  • Comment number 57.

    I have to ask why did it take a home Olympics to get some kids back into sport? When I was a kid all we ever did was mimmick those on TV, from tennis to golf to football without the need for a home Olympics or even someone to organise it. I remember we would construct a tennis court at Wimbledon time using long grass for the lines and a couple of garden forks and a washing line for the net. Unfortunately with the days already getting shorter I fear any interest shown now is going to be short lived.

    Whilst full of admiration for some of the athletes lets not forget that some of the more 'marketable' ones will be millionares from post-Olympic deals (shampoo ads anyone). One wonders if such doors will open for our Paralympians?

  • Comment number 58.

    REALIST @ 20 re stop treating disabled on benefits as scroungers

    be careful what you wish for, as it does show that actually disabled people can (when they put their mind to it) do an awful lot more than you or they might think - the same is also true of perfectly healthy scroungers, so on that score there is no difference

  • Comment number 59.

    who says that legacy has to be recognised by politicians and the media to be valid? i will go away from these games having being changed in my attitude to sport, sport funding as well as in some respects, disability. I don't need others telling me that this is a 'good thing for the country'.

  • Comment number 60.

    As a sports mad person in my mid-20s I couldn't wait for the Olympics to start and I'm now sad that the Paralympics has ended. I will watch pretty much anything sports wise on the TV except Football - Bad role models, no sportsmanship, overpaid and always bad losers.

    As a nation we have embraced the summer of sport and hopefully the children of today will be the medal winners of tomorrow, but it needs to be led by the adults, that means taking children to training, going with them for bike rides or a swim.

    I cycle to work play, squash, rugby cricket and go to the gym, after working a 50+ hour week. This is because I showed an interest and my parents wanted me to play sport as a child and used to take me to training.

    All those cynics out there need to look at themselves in the mirror and realise that they are the people who have helped take the Great away from Great Britain.

    We need to build on the euphoria of the Games and that has to start now.

  • Comment number 61.

    Limpar, your comments are spot on.

    For too long the default attitude of too many here in the UK has been overly negative to "everything" (not just the Olympics).

    Whilst a dose of cynicism has always been part of the British psyche (and healthy), it seems to have spilled over into a default 'anti' attitude per se.

    As the likes of Anglophone, Best Mate and Ian_the_chopper have observed, there were so many things that went well IN ADDITION to the actual athletics performances - let's do the un-British thing of celebrating them.

    Also, N5guy is right - it is down to us (not just the politicians) to ensure that the legacy now happens. We have been passive for too long - each and every one of us has a responsibility for ensuring that the Games have a worthwhile legacy.

  • Comment number 62.

    20.At 14:37 10th Sep 2012, A realist wrote:
    "Hopefully we will now see the end of the demonising of the disabled as benefit scroungers by the media and politicians in this country"

    I would love to share your optimism but in my experience the Paralympics have merely encouraged people to further stereotype those who for whatever reason can't or don't want to compete as somehow 'letting the side down'. Within the statements of 'look what disabled people can accomplish when they set their minds to it' is the implication that those who need physical assistance to leave the house and financial help to participate in society seems to be the inherent assumption that those who aren't competing at this extraordinary level are somehow sitting back and feeling sorry for themselves.

    No one should have their sense of citizenship (in sociological terms) undermined daily by a hostile media and the sense of 'otherness' it engenders in a majority drowning in their unexamined privilege. For instance, consider the snowballing media campaigns for 'obese' disabled people to have their access to mobility aids, particularly scooters, restricted or taken away on the basis that they don't 'deserve' them or are otherwise failing to comply with society's idea of what heroic disability should be.

    Indeed, in response to 'Best Mate' (comment 39) I think anyone in this country who is 'obese', the new scapegoat untermensch blamed for everything from the economic collapse to the food price crises to the impending implosion of the NHS would consider the way in which they are demonised and bullied by the majority and stongly dispute your assertion that 'the vast majority of the people of this country are decent, curious, accepting, tolerant, kind, humorous, friendly'. A glance at any BBC HYS thread or newspaper comments board blows that theory out of the water.

    There are still many, many injustices and unfairnesses in this country which cannot (and must not) simply be swept under a proverbial rug of artificial national pride and tabloid-fuelled distractionary patriotism.

  • Comment number 63.

    Best Mate@55. But it is so easy to get the classifications sorted out. If swimming can do it, and rowing and athletics, then surely other sports can, they don't even have to invent the wheel as the necessary safeguards have been put in place by those other sports already. 120 LD athletes good -- but what about the other couple of thousand that should be in there?

    I wrote to the UCI (that's the body that is responsible for cycling world wide) and got the most unimpressive drivel back from them. British Cycling has been immense in supporting my son in racing but it's a bit galling to think that, at 20, he's got to where he can in paracycling. He still has the Special Olympcs open to him but why are the special Olympics needed? (That's not a go at the Special Olympics, they are truly amazing people and it really does bring tears to my eyes to see the efforts that these guys and gals go to, far more so than the physically disabled guys and girls.)

    If there is to be a legacy, the other 50% of the disabled population do need to be included. The Spanish basketballers (I think it was that specific sport but not sure?) have a lot to answer as they closed a lot of doors for learning disabled people.

    In case people don't understand the benefits of exercise for those with learning disabilities, since my son started cycling and swimming hard at age 12, there have been major changes in him, aggression tamed, ability to cope with change improved, ability to ride on the road with close supervision attained, ability to plan (in terms of what clothes are needed) improved, willingness to try to improve in everything he does enhanced, left side of brain to right side of brain co-ordination drastically improved and so on and so forth.

    I suspect that similar benefits apply to "normal" people but the differences are so much more apparent in those with brain dysfunctions.

  • Comment number 64.

    @ Peripat - As I listed above I play lots of sport. I too have a form of Autistism - Semantic Pragmatic Disorder as well as Dyslexia and Dyspraxia (Spatial awarness / co-ordination problems).

    I dont use it as an excuse for not being able to do things and neither should your son. Don't let him believe he is not as good because he is different. The rain-man thing is what most people know of Autism and unfortunately its not a true reflection of the condition.

    Don't let people tell you or him that Autism means he can't do something, it just means you have to encourage him and sometimes he may have to try harder. But when you succeed it feels fantastic to turn around to those who said you can't do it and shove it in their face!

  • Comment number 65.

    @60....probably not wise to do the football comparison thing. There were a handful of unsavoury incidents during the Olympics (racist stuff, bad sportsmanship) and that is without the 24/7 media fixation that footballers get. Not that I'm defending footballers but I'm sure if you dig deep enough you'll find that sort of behaviour is most sports.

  • Comment number 66.

    I was one of the many to have been pleasantly surprised and impressed that the Games were delivered so superbly. Let's face it, there have been enough past failures to give cause for concern that the Olympics would go the same way. Two things however remain a complete failure.

    Ticketing was a fiasco and disenfranchised many millions of people. Of course no-one talks about this because the media, entirely based in London, has listened only to people who have been able to participate in the Olympics. For the rest of us outside the capital this was perhaps our only chance to get to an Olympics and we were badly let down by Lord Coe and LOCOG. Much could have been done to address ticketing problems when they were first identified over a year ago. Sadly nothing was done.

    Secondly talk of 'legacy' is a fallacy. Beyond some initial euphoria, the ability to participate in sport in the UK continues to worsen. Seven years ago we were promised facilities would be built across the UK and that the whole UK would benefit. Locally we were told a 50m swimming pool would be built. The reality is that we have fewer facilities than we had seven years ago and continue to close at an alarming rate. Clubs such as my own struggle now to find facilities where we can train. The promised elite funding for athletes has been promised through to 2016 but there has been nothing that will enable increased participation at a grassroots level. Sadly for that reason one the euphoria has died down, in six months time we will be no better off that we were before the Olympics.

    Yes we put on a great Olympic games.... but at a cost of £9bn. I'm sure that £9bn spent on sporting facilities across the whole UK would have created a greater and longer lasting legacy than the Games have done.

  • Comment number 67.

    Will London 2012 change Britain for ever?

    It has changed how we view the Paralympics - now truyly viewed as a parallel games with the knock on impact of a changed view of disability.

    It may have changed how the media views future big events - presumably the tone of media coverage will not assume disaster for Glasgow 2014 now...

    It has certainly changed a great big part of East London. People will flock to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park - the Velo-Park will be full virtually all the time - the Aquatics centre will be chocker with both elite swimmers and families, the London Lions will (hopefully) be builiding an audience in the Copper Box for British Basketball - and every year UK Athletics will have a meeting in the Olympic Stadium where the Diamond League will find an incredible new venue where a converted full stadium will cheer on 2012's heroes and be a stage for 2016's and and 2020's.

    It probably won't change how Londoners treat each other on public transport though...

  • Comment number 68.

    By elite sport do you mean another class divide where a few get money to better than others so they can line thier pockets as for legacy lets see it in years to come remember the DOME sold of cheap as for feel good who is feeling it the disabled losing benefits those out of work or those taken millions from the event

  • Comment number 69.

    63.At 17:54 10th Sep 2012, peripat wrote: "In case people don't understand the benefits of exercise for those with learning disabilities, since my son started cycling and swimming hard at age 12, there have been major changes in him, aggression tamed, ability to cope with change improved, ability to ride on the road with close supervision attained, ability to plan (in terms of what clothes are needed) improved, willingness to try to improve in everything he does enhanced, left side of brain to right side of brain co-ordination drastically improved and so on and so forth"

    I'm glad it worked for you. I just hope that success stories such as this never get twisted by the same well-meaning but misguided types who believe kids should be obsessively weighed and made fearful of food and fat to force or bully those with learning disabilities into sports and activities they don't enjoy. As an Aspie I used to love cycling as a child / teen, it gave me independence and was an activity I could enjoy alone. However in contrast being forced to participate in organised team sports at school was the source of utter dread and misery. With schools being used to push an agenda where sport, exercise and obsession with the body as some sort of virtue over and above academic and personal development I think that my school experience would have been even more miserable now than it was 25 years ago.

    I'm also not convinced by the current obsession (again much of which I suspect is fuelled by the current hysterical moral panic over 'obesity') with exercise as the miracle panacea for every single known condition and disability imaginable. Some people are simply not interested, they have other pastimes that might not involve burning any calories but which make them happy, and I really do worry that the current insistence by experts and headline-hungry politicians alike that they 'should' (horrible judmental little word, that 'should') be shamed and bullied into participating as part of some sort of 'legacy' is going to result in real harm to the confidence, self-esteem and relationships of a good number of children and young people, AS and neurotypical alike.

  • Comment number 70.

    Richard, I wonder how hard you tried to get tickets? I was able to buy tickets for the Womens Basketball earlier this year on the website and was lucky enough to get Handball in the original ballot. Both trips to the park were brilliant experiences. Paralympics ticket also weren't hard to get hold of if you didn't only decide you wanted to go in the last couple of weeks.

  • Comment number 71.

    The only change will be a massive boost to the national debt at a time we simply cannot afford it. It's a national disgrace that we wasted so much money on absolutely nothing. In fact it's worse than nothing as the main outcome from the games will be marked losses in GDP this year and in tourism income for this year and at least the next two.

    We can't even console ourselves that people might actually learn about the suicidal economic realities of such "events" because sites like these are too busy waving flags to print the facts.

  • Comment number 72.

    Steve, the Dome was sold off for the market price - and what a success! What the O2 will have generated in tax revenues for the Treasury over the years will be huge...

  • Comment number 73.

    Just to clarify, I am (like most people) all in favour of providing sporting opportunities for those who wish to participate. I just don't want to see those who choose sedentary activities looked down upon as seems to be acceptable at the moment. On the one hand the well-used local pool in my deprived area of a major Northern city has been closed down with the nearest facilities now being on an industrial estate only accessible by car or on the other side of the city centre (not much change from a fiver in bus fare). Politicians and the media continue to blame and shame us for being 'disgustingly' fat and unhealthy without ever considering their role in creating ill-health. That said I believe sport should be assigned the appropriate level of priority in a struggling society. if core services such as health, education etc would suffer from the loss of funding needed to re-open that pool I'm not sure I'd be so supportive. Maybe the answer is to stop the cuts and tax the rich more to pay off the deficit? Radical I know.

  • Comment number 74.

    sold out of tickets, means that many people (who tried hard) did not get to the Olympics at all, so yes seeing the gaps was extremely galling

    will it make a difference ? did the commonwealth games change Manchester, change edinburgh, will change glasgow - probably not to any significant degree

    London certainly has some shiny new toys

    people might start thinking better of the disabled, as lomg as there is no positive discrimination in their favour -

    lifes tough out there for everyone right now - no-ones entitled

  • Comment number 75.

    18 Noneoftheabove - "Sport's a luxury, an entertainment & a placebo." Really? Do you really believe this?

    I guess it is, as is Opera, Literature, television and, oh what the hell, a night out with a gorgeous prostitute.

    However, just like the others I mentioned (with a possible exception considering we are discussing legacy) surely it adds to the rich fabric of existence?

    I don't have any numbers to strengthen my argument; I just know that people playing sport at any level feel better. Be it through improvements to their general fitness or simply through meeting others with a similar interest.

    Sport also, as has been shown over the last 11 days or so, doesn't discriminate.

    Finally, please don't even try to compare Sport with celebrity culture; I know the. value sport offers to millions, it's a shame you don't

  • Comment number 76.

    @cp6ap - No it wasn't. The NAO valued the construction costs at £789 million. The government estimated running costs at >1 million a month. No buyer was ever found and it is now on lease for £6million per year.

    It was a disaster on the night and it's still a disaster now.

  • Comment number 77.

    Come on Mr Bond. Be optomistic.

    None of this will it. Say that it has got to be. Otherwise you are letting down all those athletes trainers & coaches.

    As Sir Winston said "do not look backwards" get out & do something about it.

    Make your voice from the BBC heard with encouragement & fervour not pessimism.

    Pessimism breeds pessimism.

    Laurie

  • Comment number 78.

    Maybe we will now see more athletics and swimming and other interesting sports instead of the boring ball games like cricket and football that tend to dominate on television. That would be a worthwhile legacy.

  • Comment number 79.

    Some friends of mine got married a few years back, supposedly spent around £40k on what was by all accounts a fantastic party.

    They were still paying it off by the time they got divorced.

    No one doubts it was a good party. Was it worth years of debt?

    Lets consider the legacy in a year or two's time (when we're still paying the bill off), rather than right now when we're still experiencing the euphoria of the party. I'd wager most of these sports clubs will have seen those fickle new child members slope off again and we'll have very little to show for it, other than some expensive white elephants (if we can't get West Ham or Tottenham to buy the stadium and knock it down to rebuild it for football).

    Say what you like about our national game, but at least it doesn't have to get £9bn of government money to put on a show.

  • Comment number 80.

    We always rise to the big occassion, largely because it's apolitical and requires everyone involved to pull together to deliver. But you are right to be worried about local facilities, one of the difficulties of spending £9 billion is that comes from a pooled budget which means lots of other things are squeezed. So playing fields are flogged off as are school grounds, beware an open space near you ending up with padlocked gates.

  • Comment number 81.

    would it have been any less enjoyable or successfull if only 4.5 bn had been spent on them and the other 4.5 bn spent on nationwide facilities aimed at the young disdavanteged and disabled ?

  • Comment number 82.

    The ultimate irony is that so many millions of pounds came from Lottery funding which previously had gone to local sports clubs etc which have now closed/cut back.

    And let's be honest the austerity messages have yet to really bite.

  • Comment number 83.

    Post 37 said it all for me, Anglophone 4 King!

    Seriously though, I hope David Bond and most of the BBC reporting team (and any other media outlet that reads these pages) read the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs, they sum our media up quite nicely!

  • Comment number 84.

    #6 diesel001

    I think what you meant to say was 'thank you mate'

  • Comment number 85.

    The Games - both versions - have restored a 'It's great to be British' mood. When last did we see so many Union Flags flying high or being waved by people of all ages in streets across the nation? So let's continue the rush of pride. Come on, David Cameron, it costs nothing to maintain pride - make it Parliament's first duty on its return from a back-slapping summer holiday, to mandate every town throughout Britain to fly the Union Flag outside their town hall. If that idea offends some sections of society, tough! Everyone in the country should be proud to be British.

  • Comment number 86.

    And I meant the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs of Anglophone's post, not the blog above.........

  • Comment number 87.

    Please don't buy into the myth that a significant proportion was funded by the private sector. The figures show that £6.25bn came from central government, £2.18bn from lottery funding and the London council tax payer £0.88 bn. Let's not forget the original estimate was £2.4 bn (+security costs).

    I suppose everyone has their own opinion on whether that's value for money but judging by previous Olympics the legacy card is over hyped

  • Comment number 88.

    The Olympics have been an astonishing success. And I am not saying this from the point of view of a patriotic Briton who got a hangover of gold medals. I am foreign, to a certain degree I couldn't care less about Team GB success (good as it has been).

    I think the Olympics have been a far greater success than just glory on the playing field.

    Out there, there was a Britain I had rarely seen in my 12 years residency. Cheerful, carefree, welcoming, enthusiastic and engaging. Everything from people talking to strangers on the Tube to a happy crowd clapping along the Brazilian national anthem being played at the Olympic Stadium.

    There were certain aspects I was not too enamoured with, particularly a certain fame-hunting that characterised some (fellow cast members at the opening ceremony rehearsals chasing Danny Boyle for an autograph without having seen a single one of his films, some people crowding around athletes without a clue to who they were "Is that David Weir?" said one, pointing at a fellow standing on his two legs at the Radio 5 boot, biggest cheer of the night for Kate Middleton rather than the athlete to whom she is presenting the medal, etc etc).

    But overall it was great. I hope it does leave a legacy. There is much need for fair honest sport in the land, less of an obsession with football (which is more entertainment, than sport), more fitness (only one look at the crowds in the Olympic Park to realise the scale of the obesity epidemic), a greater sense of unity, a self belief about potential and achievements, more emphasis on the common joe than the semi-famous face.

    I hope the Olympic Stadium is put to good use. Last thing we need is another football ground.

  • Comment number 89.

    Adam:
    Rest assured, I'm sure that "Volunteers" includes you. While you understand the difference, we don't. Sorry. You did great.

    And yes, this has been our finest hour - since the last one, which was very different and more serious, some 70 years ago or so. Let's thank whatever God you choose that this was about sport, not life & death, but it just may have as big an effect on our national pride. Let's hope so, anyway.

  • Comment number 90.

    @#2 Bobby Dazzler
    You have it spot on when it comes to sporting events.
    One thing I will remember is that the Olympics (and this blog) once again highlighted the lack of sporting knowledge of the BBC sports editor. For him it proved to be an event too far, starting with his inane questioning of Mark Cavendish and subsequent blogs which generated so much criticism which showed he is not up to the job.

  • Comment number 91.

    The bid on which we were given the games included a commitment to fund getting 2 million more people involved in physical activity by the time of the games.

    This commitment was dropped and the money given instead to the sporting organisations to fund elite performers' pursuit of medals.

    Although I've always taken part in sports (and still do at the age of 62) I've watched very little of the games as we've funded elitism at the expense of mass participation and anyway I've always preferred to compete rather than watch.

    Today's parade has been described on the radio as an opportunity for flag waving and I want no part of that.

    The nation isn't united, it's as divided as ever. Wave your flags for the elite everybody.

  • Comment number 92.

    Not finishing 2nd in the medal table depends on how you count. The US way is on total medals and on that basis we were 2nd by quite some distance - I believe Russia had 102 to our 120 but their total of 2 more golds would put them ahead on our usual method of silver/bronze only being used as tie-breakers.

    Probably some kind of weighting system would be best, but that seems to me to detract from the real issue - which is that I think we can safely say "job done" for the Paralympics. And the Olympics too.

    I watched the end of last night of the proms and wished I'd watched it all. The upsurge in national pride was very obvious, the crowds outside in many venues, the flags, the energy... fantastic. Brought a lump to the throat.

    And makes me wonder why Elgar, Britten, Holst etc were not in the olympic ceremonies. Surely Jerusalem, Land of Hope and Glory and Jupiter from the planets suite (theme tune of the rugby world cup, music of "world in Union") would be better than George Michael singing some dirge that nobody knows to boost his record sales?
    Did our musical culture really begin in around 1970? To have real culture you have to have history and we should have emphasised that to my mind.

    But will it last? Will we really see those "don't wanna work" sponger-types feeling the urge to "do their bit"? Will the bankers and directors suddenly reduce their pay to reasonable levels or the utilities stop inflating their prices? I can't really see it - and they will gradually depress us and drag the rest of us down with them.

  • Comment number 93.

    David Bond's middle name must be BUT. Even today when there is a celebration of the athletes of a highly successfull Olympics and Paralympics he is able to start his second paragraph with his BUT. He is surrounded by like minded and straight from the same mould correspondents James Pearce, Dan Roan and Andy Swiss who can all find very dark clouds under every silver lining. Today he diverts his pre games warnings on costs, security and transport with a suggestion that they were 'slightly ridiculous' but then offers a two word denial without explaination. Far better to be like Channel 4's Jon Snow and admit the doom mongers were wrong and that the Games Organisers got it right.
    Speaking of other media organisations how the BBC can have such excellent presentation from their Sports Department ,who covered the Olympics in such depth and at such a high level with detailed input from former athletes and yet they have such a negative Sports Editor and correspondents in BBC News is beyond belief.
    Clearly Mr Bond was spoilt for choice or restricted for space, or maybe just not considered news worthy, but no mention of David Rudishia's World Record. Again I'm with Seb Coe. Performance of the Games. Full Stop.
    And todays final BUT was legacy and the political message that this was the Governments responsibilty.Sorry but the Sports Editor misses the point. The legacy is the inspiration to get of your BUTT and go out there, and as the Nike tag line says 'Just Do It'
    How about Claire Balding to replace Mr Bond. She appears to know what she is talking about!

  • Comment number 94.

    Its only been over for a day and all the strange embittered parochial weirdos are crawling out of the woodwork to make tired political points. Some people wouldn't know a good time if it bit them..

  • Comment number 95.

    @Mathna. Your "good time" cost as much as the UK spends on cancer research in FORTY years.

    That's wrong. Wherever you sit on the political spectrum.

  • Comment number 96.

    67.At 18:07 10th Sep 2012, cp6ap wrote:
    Will London 2012 change Britain for ever?

    It has changed how we view the Paralympics - now truyly viewed as a parallel games with the knock on impact of a changed view of disability.
    ///////////////////
    Unfortunately it's impossible to make a criticism of the paralympics without getting taken to task and given some sort of phobia or ism status. So lets get the obligatory adulation and required deference of awesome, amazing, humbling, shamed out of the way. Yes all of those things, but..........!

    To draw parity with the olympics competition is, whilst all very PC is patently absurd. Even within the paralympics there are absurd contradictions and complexities, never mind seeking to make a straight equivalence and parity of performance with straight athletic competition.

    Multi gold winners over different disciplines, wheelchair racing, wheelchair rugby, blind football, the row over blades and the confusing categories and levels of disability means for me that the equivalence of competition and excellence cannot be compared or given parallel merit and recognition.

    And now we have another legacy. What legacy ? I fail to see why, because of the paralympics, my view of disability should change. Once the feel good feeling of these summer games and overloaded hype has died down I really can't envisage thousands packing arenas to watch disability sport to make it commercially viable.

    Does that mean therefore that the government is going to be lobbied to pour £millions into it's subsidising and development ? People will pay to watch the best and therefore emotions and PC aside, would not pay to watch run of the mill disability sport

    Quite frankly, I have found that the cynical way these games, especially the paralympics, have been hyped and exploited, and I have been almost forced to view a wheelchair race as anything but that, to be quite insulting. It has not been Usain Bolt, Mo Farrah or Jessica Ennis and any attempt to persuade me otherwise is to take it entirely out of context, dieproportionate and ridiculous.

  • Comment number 97.

    #94 makes a good point ...

    I'm just not sure who the 'strange embittered parochial weirdos' are supposed to be but at least they have made a 'political point', albeit a tired one.

    (I'm just watching the England Under 21 Football v Norway from Chesterfield on TV - good times)

  • Comment number 98.

    The games were good and there are justifiably a lot of heads held high.
    Now let's look to the future and apply ourselves to making it a better one. That winning spirit, that essence of teamwork, that willingness to put self aside for a greater good so ably demonstrated, if fostered and encouraged will make GB great for the right reasons. I'm going to give it a go.

  • Comment number 99.

    For daring to disagree I am a "strange embittered parochial weirdo", who wouldn't know a good time.

    Trust me, I know a good time and it does not involve people I've never met winning a medal

  • Comment number 100.

    I so want to write this...

    I was a disillusioned thirty-something, fed up with the lackadaisical way which this country does things. Not any more…

    Not only am I proud to hell of the opening, the infrastructure, the volunteers and the chaps in uniform that made it a memorable and safe event, but, by god, if the performance of our little country isn’t enough to make other sit up and listen nothing is.

    British sport has had the biggest injection it can possibly have.

    It has been wonderful to finally see Daley Thompson’s replacement in Jessica Ennis.

 

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