Richard Willis's Blog

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London 2012 Olympics – A Success in Every Way

I have to admit to being totally captivated by the London 2012 Olympics. I have already written about the spectacular opening ceremony so will not dwell on that but it really was an excellent start to what is proving to be a superb games. Whilst the first couple of days saw some disappointments for Team GB the last few days have been nothing short of breath-taking. The same sections of the media which seemed to be relishing every problem and isssue in the run up to the start are now the ones cheering the loudest at every new medal won! I must also admit to getting very fed up with the people who predicted doom and gloom, and who predicted ever diminishing numbers of medals for Team GB after the competitive events began.

As I write tonight (Sunday 5 August) Team GB has 37 medals in total of which 16 are Gold, 11 Silver and 10 Bronze. We are third in the overall medals table with only USA and China ahead of us. I will happily stick my neck out and say we are well on course to beat our medal haul from Beijing 2008, which was already our best performance in 100 years. Then GB managed 47 medals of which 19 were gold. For many years GB averaged about 5 golds at each Olympic games until Prime Minister John Major set up the National Lottery in 1994 with one of its expressed aims being the funding of sport in the UK. The effect was not felt in 1996 in Atlanta when the UK gained a single Gold but from 2000 at the Sydney Games with 11 Golds the impact was noticeable.

This weekend has seen a feast of medals across a wide range of disciplines. Mo Farrah got Gold in the men’s 10,000 metres, Andy Murray at last triumphed at Wimbledon to get a Gold in the men’s Tennis singles, Max Whitlock and Louis Smith got Bronze and Silver respectively in the men’s gymnastics on the Pommel Horse, and who could forget Jessica Ennis storming to win the Gold in the women’s Heptathlon? Of course there were many more including sailing, cycling, running and long jump.

It is very noticeable that the GB Team is winning medals across a broad base of events, unlike the USA which has garnered around half of its medals in swimming alone, many of them won by Michael Phelps. The great sporting superpowers of Australia and Russia have underperformed this time. Australia has managed a single Gold and Russia just four. Even tiny New Zealand has managed three Golds!

The whole of Great Britain seems to have been captivated by the London games and it is great to see football taking place all round the country, sailing in Weymouth and rowing at Eton. The Olympic Torch relay really seemed to have captured people’s imagination with big crowds turning out despite sometimes appalling weather. I helped with the relay when it came through the London Borough of Hillingdon and in my day job have played a small part in supporting the security of the Games. The Royal Mail has also had the good sense to produce a stamp for each gold medalist and painting a Post Box gold in their home towns is just inspired.

The organisers have done a fantastic job. Everyone I know who has gone to the Olympic Park has been impressed with the facilities and the organisation. Even the media have been praising the logistics. Sebastian Coe has been a great team leader and Boris Johnson has made sure that the city was ready to host this huge event. Maybe one day Seb will succeed Boris as Mayor of London, perhaps when he moves from City Hall into 10 Downing Street!

On Thursday I have tickets for the Hockey in the main Olympic Park and next month I will be going to the Excel Arena for the Paralympic Games. I am collecting the commemorative Olympic pins for each of the London Boroughs, so if anyone has any to spare please let me know. I understand that most are quite scarce now.

Whilst I am intrigued to watch the closing ceremony I know I will be sad to see the London Games come to an end. It is likely that for most people alive today this will be the only UK-based Olympics in our life times. I am therefore determined to make the most of it and think most British people feel the same. I am delighted that the athletes have risen to the occasion and given their all. There are no “plastic Brits” in the events I am watching, just individuals who have trained unbelievably hard and are proud to be representing their country in the greatest sporting event in the World.

Well done to all the athletes, the volunteers, the armed forces, the organisers, the Mayor of London, John Major, and most of all the British people for getting behind the Games and cheering on our athletes.

The next Olympic Games will be in Rio, Brazil in 2016 and I am determined to be there to cheer on Team GB!

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August 5, 2012 - Posted by | International, National

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