Article in Tyne Valley Express
Back in 2005, the joy that Britain had won the right to host the Olympic games was quickly tempered by the terrible events of 7/7, when suicide bombers killed 52 civilians and injured hundreds more on the London public transport network. The 2012 Olympic Games and the great celebration of humanity can be no consolation for that tragic day, but in the 17 days of London 2012 followed by the Paralympics, “We showed the world what we are made of”, as the Prime Minister proudly announced.
I admit that right up to the Opening Ceremony, like many, I was a little apprehensive that we would not be able to pull it off. There was the G4S Security guard shortfall, the North/South Korean flag mix-up and the long queues for tickets at St. James’ Park . But then Danny Boyle worked his quirky and eccentric magic and the weeks of glory, wonder and national unity began.
We will all remember where we were on Super Saturday when Britain won 6 Golds, 3 within the course of an hour. Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah, Bradley Wiggins and Sir Chris Hoy are officially added to our collection of National Treasures
Overall we won 65 medals, 29 of them Gold, putting Britain in third place in the Medal Table. British Olympians succeeded as never before, no doubt spurred on by the swell of encouragement from their UK supporters. There was non-stop Last Night of the Prom’s style patriotism, a general cheeriness as people all stopped to chat about who had won what and when and even the rain which has dampened spirits and hairdos alike since April, seemed to abate. At the Olympic venues, there was the good nature of volunteers or “Games Makers” to make sure all went smoothly. There was no alcohol fuelled aggression or threatening hooliganism as had been feared. The UK just seemed a nicer place.
There was respect for international superstars too and total admiration for the legends of 21st Century sport like Michael Phelps as he won his 18th Olympic Gold and of course the ineffable Usain Bolt.
The Games were never without humour or self-deprecation, a mood which continued until the Closing Ceremony with the Del Boy’s Reliant Robin and Eric Idle’s singalong rendition of “Always look on the bright side of life”. All in all it was a fantastic, mesmerising and once in a lifetime event and a fabulous boost to national morale. So what now?
Much has been spoken of the “Legacy” of the Olympics in terms of urban regeneration and providing better facilities for the East End of London. That isn’t really going to benefit those of us who inhabit the North East – the legacy to us must be more intangible. One thing that struck me was just how willingly people embraced the spirit of the Olympics but not merely in a sporting sense. There was a sense that people were watching out for each other, wanting others to succeed and that there was real altruism in action. Not everyone can be an Olympian but we can all have a go, get involved and pull together -we’re all capable of “Going for Gold” in some way. It is this spirit which should be the legacy to us all from London 2012 and a memorial to those who died on that dreadful day in 2005.
“We lit the flame and lit up the world. We have seen in these days what tenacity can do, what ambition can do, what imagination can do. We know more now, as individuals and as a nation, just what we are capable of. And that knowledge will drive us on.”
Lord Coe, August 2012.
Joanne Major is owner of Major Family Law, the Divorce and Family Law Specialists.
Tel: 01661 824582