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article imageOp-Ed: Looking back on the London Olympics from a UK perspective

By Alexander Baron     Aug 14, 2012 in Sports
London - Now that the Olympic Games 2012 has been and gone, it is time to look back at it from a UK perspective. Was it a failure, a qualified success, or a spectacular one?
London has hosted the Olympics twice before: 1908 and 1948. This year's Olympics were not set in stone; there was a bidding process, and when London won it, there was a sense of euphoria, which turned shortly to concern and even apprehension. London was awarded the games on July 6, 2005. The next day, four Islamist fanatics from the provinces travelled to the capital and exploded four bombs murdering 52 innocent people in addition to wounding hundreds.
Then there were problems - more perceived than real as things turned out - with such things as security, the timetable, and so on.
Four years ago, China staged a truly spectacular opening ceremony. How could we beat that? Well, how about the Queen of England parachuting into the Olympic arena with James Bond? Okay, it was a stunt double used for the jump, but the Queen herself actually took part. The closing ceremony wasn't bad, either. Tony Hadley of Spandau Ballet performed the only song he could, Gold with Team GB.
True, there were the rip off prices, which backfired for some; there were also complaints about some unemployed people being press ganged into acting as volunteers, but by and large everything in between the opening and closing was a-okay, with only a handful of glitches, as is to be expected with any event of this size. There was no nuclear attack or other false flag as predicted by some idiot with more imagination than common sense. The police did what they do best, no shooting innocent men in the backs of mini-cabs, no posing, no strong arm stuff, just being there to make the punters feel secure rather than intimidated, while surreptitiously keeping an eye out for pickpockets and other lowlifes who were nabbed promptly before they could ruin things for people, some of whom had travelled from the far corners of the Earth, to support their respective nations and have fun.
There was the usual controversy over drugs, some of it real, some of it not so. The 16 year old Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen turned in a truly spectacular performance, which led to ill-informed speculation that she had been using some sort of banned substance to enhance her performance. This speculation was quelched almost immediately, the fact is this happens. Four years ago, Britain's Rebecca Adlington turned in spectacular performances winning two gold medals. In London she could manage only two bronze medals, and from her reaction you'd think she'd found a penny and lost a pound.
The winner of the women's shot put was stripped of her gold medal; the much maligned Dwain Chambers competed, and although the sky did not fall, and he made the most of his chance, he was unfortunately unable to win a medal.
For a certain Mr Murray, his gold medal was sweet indeed. After losing narrowly to Roger Federer at Wimbledon at a time when all the omens said he would become the first British men's champion since the 1930s, he thrashed Federer in the Olympics final. Both the counties of Yorkshire and London itself were massively over-represented medal-wise.
The final medal table is revealing. The United States - the world's only superpower, and China - the emerging superpower, topped the table, as they might, but Great Britain was an incredible 3rd. Okay, the Sun has long set on the British Empire, but when one considers the demographics, this is truly staggering. China has a population of over 1.3 billion; the UK less than 63 million, which means we punched far above our weight with those 65 medals, 29 of them golds. India, with its massive population, could win only 6 medals, and no golds.
Perhaps even more remarkable than Great Britain were the performances of the Netherlands, New Zealand and Jamaica considering their much smaller populations, but it was truly the host nation that shone. The only downside is that it doesn't get any better than this, so Great Britain especially should not expect to pick up anything like that number of medals in Rio de Janeiro four years from now, but as Kipling said:
"If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same".
Rebecca Adlington may be disappointed with her two bronze medals, two more than Israel, Malta and Nigeria combined, but the Olympics, indeed sport, is about the competing. This was an Olympic Games that had no losers. Let the next one be the same.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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