So it is farewell, London 2012. You leave behind a bucketful of emotions, memories, and images.
The fears over security, the outrage over ticket allocations and early empty seats, the worry about the weather spoiling the party – all are insignificant now in the wake of The London Games we have all just experienced.
I have loved becoming the world’s leading Armchair Expert in all of the minority sports I’ve been watching. I have learned the scoring systems to Archery, Handball, Beach Volleyball, Diving, Taekwondo, and Amateur Boxing over the past two weeks, all of which I ought to write down somewhere so that I remember them in four years time when I am glued to my tv set into the early hours, watching the competitiors in Rio in 2016.
So what have been the highlights for me?
Well, let me start by saying that – great acheivements that they were – the highlights for me are NOT Mo Farah’s two golds, nor Jessica Ennis winning the Heptathlon, nor any of the other ‘expected’ golds. For me, it was the unexpected successes, and the story behind the competiton that generated the emotional attachment.
Things like judoka Gemma Gibbons, whose reaction to winning her semi-final and a guaranteed medal was a heartfelt and emotional glance heavenwards, accompanied by a mouthed “I love you, mum” to her late mother.
Things like rower Kath Grainger, who followed silver in Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, and Beijing 2008, with a superb and long-deserved gold at the rowing lake at Eton Dorney.
Things like the bronze secured by diver Tom Daley, whose journey to the Olympics this year was full of personal tragedy but ended in joyous success.
The closest finishes were seen in the velodrome, where again we saw personal stories entwined with success. And even though the successes were more easily anticipated, seeing Victoria Pendleton go through the agonies of disqualification in one race, come storming back with gold in the keirin, and just get pipped in the Individual Sprint in her last race, highlighted what the Olympics means to people competing. Even Sir Chris Hoy was reduced to tears on the podium, when collecting his historic sixth Olympic Gold.
One thing I do have to say is that the BBC did a superb job covering the Games – adding the 24 extra channels for the duration of tha Games was brilliant, as it allowed you to watch every session of every sport, and really put the viewer in charge. Well done Auntie, I consider that bit of my license fee well spent.
And so we finish with 65 medals, 29 of them gold. We finish with a feel-good factor in the country that will hopefully take a while to dissipate. We finish our London oddessy and look forward now to Rio 2016.
Above all, we finish with a nation desperately trying to remember what they used to do on a Monday evening. Personally, I watched an 80s DVD. What did you do?