By Gordon Farquhar
A glorious summer of sport has finally drawn to a close. Over the last 6 months, the BBC Olympic Podcasts and blogs have charted the progress of British and international athletes at the London 2012 Games.
Like many people, I was inspired by many of the athletes who competed at the Games but none more so than David Weir. The Londoner won an incredible four wins at four events at London 2012 including the T54 marathon in front of an ecstatic crowd on the Mall, 5,000m, 1500m and 800m. He now matches Sarah Storey as Britain's most successful athlete at the Games. Mark Pougatch spoke to him at the Athletes Parade in London.
It's athletes like Oscar Pistorius, Katherine Grainger and David Weir who will inspire the next generation to Olympic and Paralympic greatness. The importance of mentoring young children in sport was highlighted when BBC World Service’s Simon Watts spoke to Mo Farah, the Somali-born runner, who has become one of the heroes of the London 2012 Olympics after winning Gold in the 5,000 and 10,000 metres for Great Britain.
The London Games certainly wasn’t all about London. Yorkshire was the most successful county at producing Olympians, Wales was the most represented home nation at the Paralympics and Scotland? Well they kindly provided some of the biggest names of the summer in Sir Chris Hoy, Katherine Grainger, Neil Fachie and Andy Murray. Northern Ireland also has a claim to fame as we discovered when Sportsound spoke to gold medal Paralympic sprinters Jason Smyth and Michael McKillop for BBC Ulster.
Despite incredible performances at the London Games, for many athletes this will be the end of their journey. Among those is two-time Olympic gold medallist Victoria Pendleton. She announced her retirement after an emotionally-draining home Games that brought a disqualification in the team sprint, a superb gold in the keirin and a silver medal after defeat to her long-time Australian rival Anna Meares in the sprint. Despite her incredible success, Pendleton spoke about her difficulties dealing with the intense pressure of elite sport, falling in love at work and her personal demons in a very frank interview with Victoria Derbyshire.
US athlete Marlon Shirley, the original blade runner, was the first man to gain the title of "the world's fastest amputee" after he broke the 11 seconds mark for running 100 metres. But Marlon had an exceptionally tough start. His mother was a prostitute leaving him to beg for food on the streets of Las Vegas before he was taken into an orphanage at the age of five. He then lost his foot in accident while in care. He spoke to Lucy Ash on BBC World Service about his extraordinary life and breaking the 11 second mark in the Sydney Games.
Well it seems that everyone in the United Kingdom has been inspired by the London 2012 Games – including Sandi Tosvkig on The News Quiz.
The BBC Olympic Podcast series was presented by BBC 5 Live presenter Eleanor Oldroyd and BBC Olympic Correspondent Gordon Farquhar, and was a Smooth Operations Production.