By Samantha Deverdics
They said it would be a farce, a failure, a mere ripple in the pond in comparison to the extravagance of Beijing four years before. Yet in true British underdog fashion we’ve proved the doubters wrong and produced one of the most enthralling Olympic Games in history; even the infamous British weather sensed the grand occasion and stayed away.
Whilst the efforts of the Chinese were always going to be an uphill battle to overcome, London 2012 brought something to the Games that had been somewhat missing throughout the spectacle of 2008; the passion and heart shown by athletes and supporters alike has shone like a beacon and truly epitomised the spirit of the Games. Only twelve months ago our nation stood on the brink, as riots broke out across the country and many of us struggled to recover from the damaging impact of the recession. Trust was shattered and communities were broken, yet fast forward a year and Great Britain has never felt so united. The sense of pride is overwhelming, not only for the fantastic endeavours of each and every athlete that pulled on a GB vest, but also for the way in which the entire community has embraced the essence of the Olympics and brought it to life with overwhelming exuberance.
It cannot be said that it is coincidence that Great Britain witnessed its most successful Games in the year in which we played host, as every supporter that filled each venue inspired our athletes to produce performances many could only dream of. The support of the crowd was certainly repaid by our fantastic athletes, who by in bringing home a staggering 65 medals, including an astounding 29 gold, have gone above and beyond any of our expectations. In a football-obsessed nation it often feels that Britain will forever be the poster boy for underachievement. However the Olympic Games has restored our belief in sport and reminded us of just how much we really do have to celebrate. There were no amateur dramatics, no over-paid, half-hearted performances. There was simply pride; Pride and desire to wear our national flag in the biggest sporting arena known to man. We can only hope that such heart and selfless dedication of our Olympians will be taken on board by some of those who have fallen for love of the wealth instead of the game.
And so, I write this as the curtain comes down on a fantastic fortnight of sporting entertainment as the closing ceremony unfolds in another spectacular showing of patriotism and the many qualities that our modest island has to offer. Never before have I been so proud to be British. It is hard to imagine a single person across the length and breadth of the country that has failed to be caught up in the magic of the Olympic Games. It has been so refreshing to pick up a newspaper and see celebratory headlines light up the pages rather than the negativity and shame that are usually the topic of conversation, and long may it continue! Let these Games remind us of the positive aspects of our country, and inspire the next generation of budding athletes to emulate the achievements of this year’s champions and continue the legacy that London 2012 has created.
As the Olympic torch was passed over to Britain way back in 2008 it was expected that Britain would never be able to reach the heights of Beijing, yet here we are. The organisers of Rio are going to have a near-impossible task or recreating the inspirational atmosphere of London 2012; a Games that will live in the memory long after the embers of the symbolic torch in the Olympic Stadium have burned away. Many congratulations to the athletes, coaches, volunteers, organisers, presenters and supporters of the London Olympics. We are Great Britain, and we are proud!