I was in London two days before the opening ceremony and walked through a sun-drenched St James' Park at lunchtime surrounded by flags, banners and signs to Beach Volleyball on Horse Guards' Parade.
The Marathon finishing line was fully prepared on The Mall (memories of my six and a half hour ordeal last year) and plenty of competitors were walking to Buckingham Palace in team tracksuits with an Olympic pass round their neck.
It suddenly felt a reality, the Olympics were coming to London!
We saw some of the opening ceremony on the television before embarking on our Olympics live experience. We were staying at Shirley's flat in Chelsea, the Basketball didn't start until 2.30 – plenty of time to beat the traffic. I went out at 8.45 to find breakfast and do a recce. Good thing I did, we were almost cut off by the cycle race. I was within touching distance of my first Olympic event and there wasn't a taxi in sight.
Alex sent me on a mission to find "A very nice taxi driver", I found the perfect answer on the King's Road who with great charm recommended the Javelin which he called The Bullet Train from St Pancras – £37.50 later he delivered us to our destination. The Javelin was free and only took 7 minutes to take us to Stratford International – yards from the Timpson shop in Westfield and the
entrance to Olympic Park.
THE OLYMPIC PARK
It was just like going back to Sydney 12 years ago. We were greeted by a host of happy and helpful volunteers wearing their London 2012 uniform. There was another crowd of crowd-pleasers guiding us through security and in no time we were walking past the Aquatic Centre where we saw the Park: "Wow!" This is definitely better than Sydney.
￼￼￼The Basketball Arena was a long walk, too long for Alex who spotted the Accessible Buggy and found us a seat. We were driven at walking pace right round the park – our introduction to Olympicland. It is enormous, the arenas are stunning but the great surprise are the gardens – the wild flowers were fantastic I would love to see a snippet of this display at Sandymere.
We were extremely early for the basketball but being before time is a bonus, you get to enjoy the pre-game entertainment. There was a bit too much audience participation for my taste (not keen on the Mexican wave) but the dancers and acrobatic skippers kept our attention and in no time we were watching Basketball.
We got the girls, Turkey v Angola and USA v Croatia. They were big girls (like tall) apart from two of the Turks – one was tall and big with it, I think she should have kept off the burgers and spent more time in the gym, but her bulk was a brilliant benefit when blocking the Angolans. In contrast they had a feisty little blonde with a menacing tattoo, lots of determination and a trim turn of pace that seemed to take her between the tall girls' legs. The Turks won easilym so did the USA; disappointing for the crowd – if Team GB isn't on the pitch we always support the underdog.
Our second outing was to The Excel for the Fencing. ￼￼￼The only British fencer was fighting first, within five minutes he had lost and the latecomers had missed the chance to wave their Union Jacks.
I'm glad we had tickets for the heats rather than the final – we got four rounds with so many fights there were four at a time. We saw a fair bit of fencing for our money.
A man behind me knew a lot about it, he explained the rules and the tactics to his friend but although I listened carefully I never caught enough to discover one move from another. Despite the red and green lights that lit up to indicate a hit I never knew who had hit who until the scoreboard changed.
With GB already eliminated I had to find someone else to support, basing my choice on national prejudice. I wanted Romania to beat USA and the Italian to win against a Russian who was probably a very nice chap but most of the time he was hidden behind a mask so it was difficult to tell.
My main memory will be the role of the referee. Despite the lights (which often came on together to indicate a simultaneous strike) it was the referee, using an eccentric range of hand signals, who decided the score. The fencers put the poor guy under a lot of pressure. After each thrust or lunge both fencers would whip off their mask and triumphantly appeal to the referee. Wayne Rooney could learn a lot from their techniques, they were passionate and plausible. But the ref was his own man, almost, he had the help of an action replay and an assistant before his hand signal gave a firm decision, the score changed and the match moved on.
We were lucky, several matches got to 14–14 with the final point depending on the referee's decision. No wonder every fencer has to master the art of catching the judge's eye by forcefully claiming victory. I would go to watch fencing again.
￼￼￼With tickets for an evening session of weightlifting we stayed at the Excel Arena all day. Watching competitors pick up bars loaded with heavy metal is surprisingly entertaining. Each competitor has three goes at the 'snatch' and the 'clean and jerk' – the game is to get the bar motionless with arms stretched above your head.
The scoring system creates drama – the weight is increased as the competition moves on. Tactics play a big part, no one wants to waste a lift on an easy weight but everyone must pick a successful starting point.
Usually it was crystal clear when a lift was incomplete – the competitor dropped it. Some failed to get the bar beyond knee height, others lifted it overhead before buckling under the strain. Three white lights on the scoreboard award success, three red meant failure.
We were watching the Men’s A group but one guy in the B group surprised the seeding committee and set a high target that the elite lifters would find hard to beat.
There was a time limit, a minute after the lifter's name was called and two minutes for a second attempt. But no one seemed to rush, some wasted time putting chalk on their hands, wandering round the stage, taking deep breaths, flexing muscles and giving a grunt before lifting the bar with seconds to spare.
Everyone managed to find their level on ’the snatch’ but ‘clean and jerk’ proved to be a problem. The first nine lifts ended in failure and two competitors used their three attempts without success and were eliminated. At last a lifter managed to make both a clean and a jerk. The announcer regular said "going up" as more weights were put on the bar but they didn't go up enough for the A group: the gold medal was presented to a happy man, pleased to prove he should never have been classified as a B class athlete.
Weightlifting is great, it is amazing how time flies when watching little men pick up twice their body weight.
￼￼￼Although the tickets were expensive I didn't realise the real price I was paying for the Olympics until I went to Walton on Thames. The cycling road race had gone past our shop on Saturday and although the high street was packed no-one went shopping. We lost 75% of our business. Our manager, who is saving up to get married, dropped so much bonus he put in an extra shift on Sunday at a nearby Tesco concession, to make up his money. Wherever the cyclists went it lost us a lot of money. At the Brooklands Tesco, cut off by road closures, we lost nearly £2,000 over the weekend.
Business has suffered pretty badly in The City, Londoners have stayed at home and, as I expected, the rest of the country is watching the games on television. Whoever said the Olympics would be a boost for retail business couldn't have got it more wrong.
￼We had a bird's-eye view the gymnastics from seats high up in the O2 Arena. We were entertained by men doing the full circuit – pommel horse, vaulting, swinging on rings and bars (high and parallel) plus a bit of acrobatics on the floor. With four gymnasts performing at the same time it was difficult to know where to look. Most of the time I was watching the scoreboard, trying to kid myself the GB gymnasts would do well. They did at the start but quickly faded to finish seventh and eighth.
￼￼￼The floor exercises were spectacular, gymnasts performed the twists pikes and somersaults normally seen from a diver, but the real show offs were on the high bar, swinging like hyperactive apes. Some spectacular moves made the crowd gasp, especially when the gymnast missed the bar fell to the floor and lost a point.
Despite a late high scoring, high bar performance from a German gymnast, the Japanese crowd got their winner and were still waving their flags as we left the arena for a short walk and easy river bus trip back to The Embankment.
We had an early start on Thursday morning, back on Docklands Light Railway to the Olympic Park to watch Water Polo. I did wonder whether we would get value for money. Although we would see two matches they only lasted for 32 minutes – four eight-minute quarters. But I hadn't accounted for the basketball timing system with the clock stopped for any break in play.
The players must be pretty pleased it doesn't go on any longer. They were well-built men and big with it but treading water for what turned out to be an hour is bad enough without your opponent trying to drown you when the referee isn't looking. Pity the poor striker who spends half the time in the penalty area, closely marked on the surface and constantly fouled under water.
The star players were in goal. Despite selling dummy after dummy most shooters failed to score. But they had a lot of shots. As the game progressed, and everyone got tired, a goal was scored every minute.
￼￼￼There was a special role for one volunteer – the ball girl. She fixed the ball on a floating centre circle before the start of each quarter. When the whistle blows the ball is set adrift and two 'sprinters' swim from each end to gain possession. The ball girl sat on a chair looking a little embarrassed in her swimsuit and towelling robe waiting for her big moments. How did she get the job? Did she really want a dive-in part? Was there an audition? At least she was able to swim across the pool without being ducked by one of the players.
The athletics started on Friday and we had tickets for the first night. I knew it was impressive, but still found the first glimpse of the stadium to be a genuine "Wow!". We were one of the first to arrive but even the empty stadium had a great atmosphere which got even better as the seats filled.
￼￼￼First up was the qualifying round of the women's discus. Three throws to decide who goes into the final, an awful long way for these big girls to come for only three attempts especially for the one that put her first go into the net. 'Volunteer job of The Games' must go to the guy who operated the remote control Mini cars that carried the discus back to the throwing area.
The crowd got an early chance to go wild when the heptathletes put the shot. All eyes on Jessica Ennis. No pressure! The rowers talk about the home crowd being 'the extra man in our boat'. There must be the danger that the enthusiastic support for our 'bound to win' Jessica would put her off rather than spur her on. It is amazing how top sports stars can cope with the tension.
We had a good view of the long jump qualifiers who marched into the stadium and lined up to have their practice jumps like prep school boys on sports day. Long jump is another job producer for the volunteers with the top job going to the rakers. It is a rare chance to be beamed on global television in a sand pit.
There was a big contrast between the men with ever so thin legs who ran in the 1,500 metre heats and the chaps in the shot put final at the far side of the stadium. The giant from Poland who won the gold medal could have thrown the fastest runner halfway across the arena.
I remember being irritated by the patriotic home crowd in Sydney with their shouts of Aussie Aussie Aussie and raucous support for every Australian competitor. We are doing exactly the same. Just the mention of a GB athlete was enough for most of the crowd to shout support and wave their union jacks. But the big roar was reserved for Jessica Ennis who finished off the day with a great run over 200 metres that gave her a healthy overnight lead in the Heptathlon.
Saturday was always going to be a big night. Once Jessica Ennis had done well in both long jump and javelin only a sudden injury could deny her the gold medal. "Once she has won we'll leave," said Alex. "Mo Farrah is running as well," I said in hope. "If we don't set off at 9pm I won't get home until 3 in the morning, anyway I don't think he will win the 10,000 metres."
The atmosphere in the stadium was electric, 80,000 people and most were flag waving, flag wearing Brits looking forward to celebrating victory.
The women had their discus final and 100m semi-finals, the men qualified for the 400m hurdles but everyone was waiting for Jessica, until they saw the standings in the men's long jump with GB first and second.
Greg Rutherford had jumped into the lead but although there was the chance of a surprise GB gold nothing was going to divert the crowd's attention away from Jessica. The pentathlon was pretty much a done deal, she was so far ahead coming into the final event (800 metres) only a catastrophe to eclipse Devon Loch's disaster in The Grand National would have denied her the gold medal.
￼￼Jessica was cheered as soon as she appeared and got a rapturous reception when her name was
announced. The crowd felt nervous, surely nothing would go wrong now. She set off quickly and kept at the front of the field; the cheers got louder as it became clear the gold medal was a certainty, everyone stood as she crossed the line in first place.
It wasn't really a race it was a victory lap. Hardly anyone noticed that during all the excitement Greg Rutherford had increased his lead with a jump of 8.31 metres. The scoreboard, the announcers and the entire crowd were only talking about Jessica's win.
Greg Rutherford was still in the lead with two jumps to go but Jessica had won so Alex said I had to go – we were the only people leaving the stadium.
A screen in the Westfield Centre was showing the early laps of the 10,000 metres. A man on the Javelin train announced that Rutherford had won gold. We set a record time to Central London and watched the last two laps of the 10,000 metres on the television in our car. Mo's win made it three golds for Britain in the space of an hour.
I was there at The Etihad when City won The Premiership. I watched every ball of The Old Trafford Test when Jim Laker took 19 wickets. And I was there in The Olympic Stadium on the greatest night for British Athletics – I just didn't stay to the end.
We had a great run home, back before 1am. There was no one else on the road, they were all watching the Olympics.
We went back to London on Monday morning to continue our personal decathlon (or whatever you call being involved in 17 events). Next, Synchronised Swimming.
The Aquatic Centre is pretty impressive but so big we had a heart-thumping steep climb to our seats, which gave a bird's-eye view of the women's pairs qualification round.
There were 14 judges – seven for technical merit and seven for artistic impression. As I didn't know the rules and couldn't see what was going on underwater I tried to judge each couple on their appearance – a tricky task as they all looked alike. Obviously each team had matching outfits but every pair had sequins, swept back hair, a big smile and a lot of lippy.￼￼
￼￼￼The music was more entertaining than the swimmers who all had a similar routine. I was hoping there might be a dramatic variation with one of the swimmers leaping out of the water and doing a double somersault or even better for the pair to do a synchronised jump like Shamu at Seaworld. But nothing exciting happened. Synchronised Swimming needs a Torvill and Dean-type pairing to give the sport a shot in the arm.
Then Team GB appeared. It worked. The deafening flag-waving was enough for the judges to put our girls into the final. "They were amazing," said Alex as we left Olympic Park.
I thought I had finished with 'Wow' moments. The Olympic Park and the Stadium are both amazing but to me the Velodrome took the gold medal. The beautiful wooden structure was action-filled from the moment we sat down. Cyclists were warming up on the track and they were going so quickly – without trying. The costumes help, all cyclists wear garish gear but the national squads have picked particularly bright colours that add to the atmosphere. Belgium had my favourite – City blue with helmet to match.
￼￼The pre-race action on the track was more than matched by activity in the middle. Bikes being pampered and tweaked to perform to perfection – then weighed and measured by officials to make sure no rider had an unfair advantage. Team GB had the biggest pen and the largest team, Trinidad and Tobago only had one bike.
The crowd was there to see Sir Chris Hoy in the Keirin qualifying round, on his last ever day of his competitive career, and the much younger Laura Trott who was leading the Omnium (cycling's equivalent of the pentathlon).
Sir Chris Hoy had no problem winning the first heat and the Velodrome was filled with Union Jacks. The Keirin is the one where a little motor bike (called a Derny and ridden by Peter) leads for most of the way until the speed gets to 50kph then, with less than three laps to go he gives up and the cyclists accelerate to over 70kph in a sprint to the finish. Despite his pressure job Peter kept calm, concentrating hard, looking straight ahead with a fixed face but allowing himself the
occasional furtive look at his speedometer. Peter was a real hit with the crowd.
The Omnium Girls appeared in pairs starting at opposite sides of the track. They chased each other round but they were competing against the clock rather than themselves. The cycle authorities know how to put on a show. The girls rode in reverse order with Laura going last paired with the girl lying in second place. They went 3,000 metres which took little more than three minutes.
In most heats the girl who started quicker got tired and finished with the slower time (perhaps they had put in too much time warming up on the rollers). Laura is tiny – cycling does not seem to have built up any obvious muscles, she didn't look strong enough to lift her bike onto the track. To start, she was slower than her opponent which, on previous evidence was good news, but not this time. Laura lost.
We never tried to get cycling tickets in Sydney, and now realise that was a mistake. I envy those that will see the BMX tomorrow, we saw the track on the way out – a thrill a second.
For the evening session we sat near the long jump where the girls were trying to qualify. It was a good place to see what they do between jumps. Much of the time is taken up taking track suits off and putting them on again.
Their coaches sat in front of us, in the first three rows. The girls kept consulting their mentors to get advice, reassurance, encouragement and on occasions a strong piece of criticism. One coach gave some heated tips to his girl who failed to jump and simply ran through the sand. I can understand his frustration. After two years' training to come from the other side of the world only to see your protégé waste one of only three jumps is enough to drive anyone to strong language.
A girl in the 110m Hurdle Heats had an even bigger disaster, a false start. Following all the build-up all she did was walk slowly out of the stadium, having received a red card shown with a cynical flourish.
No red cards in the long jump, they used white and red flags. The red was raised with enthusiasm as soon as a jumper over stepped the mark. White flags took their time – the judge had to check the action replay before giving the thumbs up.
They like their flags, which are waved for all the field sports. Red for a foul throw at discus, hammer, shot and javelin. It seems unnecessary, but a red flag goes up whenever a competitor knocks off the bar in high jump. The last thing a failed jumper needs is a red flag fluttering in front of their face.
Our girl, Sarah Proctor, went beyond the qualifying mark with her first jump, put on her track suit and walked off. We weren't surprised, with 22 golds so far we expect British success in every event.
￼￼￼The discus final started before the girls had finished jumping – a sharp contrast in physique. The Estonian, a well-built boy, enjoyed the enthusiastic support of five guys in the row in front – not surprising, they were waving the Estonian flag.
There was a lot going on that night. Everywhere I looked volunteers were busy. They were waving flags, moving cones, putting discus onto the remote control Mini and leading out competitors for each event. Star turn was the man who marked the lanes for the 800 metres, blue pegs at the point
where the stagger unwinds and runners can run where they like. Once the athletes went
past he had to pick up the pegs before the runners completed another circuit. To make life easy he put the pegs into a pretty-looking wicker basket. I hope he is allowed to keep it as a memento.
I didn't know where to look next. At one time we had the women jumping, men throwing and the decathletes going for the high jump. All of these field sports were ignored as soon as there was an event on the track. The announcers rudely interrupted athletes in the middle of a throw or mid jump. Nothing must get in the way of the Olympic schedule.
Although the women's 200 metre final started as he took his final throw the Estonian got bronze and his fellow countrymen in front of us went home happy.
DAME KATHLEEN OLLERENSHAW
Wednesday 8th August was the big one in our diary. Others had pencilled in Usain Bolt or Jessica Ennis but we were going to see my aunt, Dame Kathleen Ollerenshaw.
We had been planning this moment for over seven years, nearly as long as Seb Coe. When London won the Olympic bid I told Kathleen about our trip to Sydney and before the conversation ended I promised she would be sat in the stadium for 2012. It was a big ask, Dame Kathleen was born on 1st October 1912.
￼￼￼She was in the UK pairs skating championship and played hockey for England at Wembley about 80 years ago. Apart from her sporting achievements she has an awesome CV. Despite being profoundly deaf from an early age she sparkled at University and became one of the country's leading mathematicians. She was a recognised expert in education, a local politician who became Lord Mayor of Manchester. She was closely involved in The Northern College of Music and her support for St John's Ambulance led to her being appointed a Dame of The Order allowing her to claim the rare distinction of being a double Dame having already been awarded DBE. Kathleen has written several books, including a groundbreaking explanation of magic squares which she wrote in her eighties, by which time she had taken up a keen interest in astronomy.
Kathleen came down by car, driven by Martin with Judy in support. She was picked up at 6am and driven straight to the disabled car park next to The Westfield Centre. I was watching the women's hammer qualifying round when Martin rang to say that Dame Kathleen was outside the stadium. I met her, the wheelchair, Judy and Martin at the entrance. She was amazed to find someone she knew among such a big crowd!
The Volunteers were over the moon, a near-hundred-year-old spectator was just the sort of challenge they signed up for. But the wheelchair viewing area was fully booked so Martin and the strongest-looking 2012 ambassador carried the occupied chair to an aisle seat on our row. Kathleen had made it, she was sitting in a seat in the Olympic Stadium.
With such an interesting and varied life plus an excellent long-term memory Kathleen has plenty to talk about, and often does. But sat in her seat she said nothing. She can hardly hear and sees very little but she took it all in.
Kathleen was there in time for Mo Farrah in the 5,000 metre heats. "Are we winning?" she asked, "Is it time to applaud?". The decathletes did their long jump then moved to the far end of the stadium to throw the shot. Most of the crowd moved but Kathleen stayed, enjoying the atmosphere and savouring another personal achievement – one of the oldest people at the Games.
"Sir Bernard Lovell died today," she told me talking of someone she knew, "He was 98, but didn't make 100." Having been to the Olympics Kathleen's next target is on 1st October.
￼￼￼As the crowd left Kathleen got her voice back and the memories started flowing again. Dinner with Lowry, seeing Hitler speaking at a Rally and the content of her next book. She walked up the steps, got in her wheelchair and went through the packed crowd enjoying every last bit of her amazing day out.
So Dame Kathleen became one of the outstanding British successes at London 2012 but I am awarding the medals to Christine, Judy and Martin who made a dream come true.
After waving Kathleen goodbye I had three hours before going back to the stadium. After a modest Greggs lunch I walked to Park Live to watch show jumping on the screen (we are now surprised if GB doesn't win – but we didn't). Walking the park is great for people-watching. This was an unusual crowd, everyone seemed really nice. Lots of families, loads of smiles, pleasant people patiently queuing, it was all so civilised.
The army of volunteers put us all in the right mood. "Welcome to Olympic Park". "Have a great day at London 2012". We didn't just get a warm welcome, we were entertained. Adding to the fun were a few street entertainers including a troupe of Morris Dancers. Despite carrying menacing guns, the police (some had come down from Manchester and Yorkshire) entered into the spirit of the games – there to help not boss about. One of my magic moments was when the police met the Morris Dancers, swapped hats and posed for loads of cameras.
￼￼￼We had every reason to be grateful to the happy helpers. There was a lot of walking, more than Alex could handle. Several volunteers, seeing her struggle, pulled her out from the crowd to sneak us into a short cut or find another buggy.
It would be nice to think the Olympic spirit will last forever. How pleasant to travel round London surrounded by friendly faces with a volunteer happy to help on every corner. But dream on! By the beginning of October the friendliness will have been forgotten and once again we will have to battle against the crowd instead of being surrounded by happy supporters of Team GB.
Friday was a day off, we didn't have any tickets so I relaxed by going back to work, visiting 14 of our shops around Portsmouth.
The Games were starting to wind down. It was now much more about memories than anticipation. But we still had two more tickets, including the last session of athletics.
￼￼￼The tall girls turned up early to prepare for the high jump final, carefully folding their spare tracksuits and stretching like contortionists. Before the first competitive jump we had to watch the Men's 4x400 medal ceremony (every time I see athletes step onto a podium I remember the wheelchair athlete at Sydney who missed the plinth fell out of his chair then picked it up put it on the platform and sat down again).
All the girls cleared 1.89m, the Russian with the longest legs and an enormous springy stride went way over the bar. The whole crowd was into the high jump, clapping every run-up, cheering a clearance and 'Ooohhing' a failure, when they were rudely interrupted by the announcer introducing finalists for the javelin.
There couldn't have been a proper risk assessment for the javelin. An official was nearly hit during the warm-up and a throw 20m beyond the world record would have hit the high jumpers. Soon they will either have to build bigger venues or use a heavier javelin.
Suddenly both girl jumpers and boy throwers were ignored. The runners arrived for the 5,000m and Mo Farah raised the roof simply by walking into the stadium. The next 20 minutes were all about Mo. An enormous cheer when his name was announced, a wall of sound throughout the race with the crowd standing up as the runners passed their part of the stadium creating a novel type of Mexican wave.
The girls kept jumping and the javelin competition continued but nobody noticed and few cared, all eyes were on Mo. He was right at the back, perhaps all the media hype had got to him. With five laps to go he looked to be losing touch, but two laps later he was near the front.
￼￼￼Mo took the lead with over a circuit to go. The crowd no longer stood as he neared their seat, they were standing and shouting all the time. For the last lap there was a wall of sound: 80,000 people yelling support, waving flags, and punching the air as Mo crossed the line. Sporting moments don't get better than that – being there made up for missing his 10,000m win a week ago.
No-one threw the javelin far enough to hit any of the girls who finished jumping when the long-legged Russian was the only one to clear 2.05m.
The last red flag had been raised. The remote control Mini has carried its last javelin. The long jump pit has been covered for the last time and there won't be another militarily precise placing of the hurdles.
The women's 800m was won by the Russian world champion Mariya Savinova but the girl in second got a bigger cheer (Caster Semenya has spent the last year proving she is a girl— enough to put anyone off the sport). My 800m hero was the guy who put the blue lane marker pegs into his basket for the last time.
The last parade of volunteers appeared leading out teams for the final event, The Men's 4x400m Relay.
There were 36 runners, hundreds of officials, thousands of journalists and 80,000 spectators but the stadium was filled with one personality – Usain Bolt. His starting point was in front of our seating block. He entertained us with a range of antics before the start, then he entertained everyone else. With a blistering last leg he took the gold and a world record for Jamaica. The star of the games had crossed the lane first in the last race.
We waited for the final medal ceremony when the last word from the French announcer welcomed Mo Farah to collect his gold. Loud cheers and a sea of Union Jacks as he mounted the platform, followed by a stirring performance of God Save the Queen. A great end to a fantastic night.
THE CLOSING CEREMONY
The Closing Ceremony was an elaborate pop concert with a break in the music to hand over to Rio de Janeiro.
We had a fantastic view of the Olympic flame, but the stage was at the opposite end of the stadium, hidden behind some massive props including the London Eye, Big Ben and Battersea Power Station. Fortunately 'London' was taken apart after half an hour and we were able to see Elbow, Take That, The Spice Girls, Brian May and many more.
We were yards away when the petals of the flame spread out and were so close to the formal speeches Seb Coe waved to Alex as he left the platform, having quite rightly singled out the volunteers for special praise. It would have been impossible to have run such a successful Games without the help of many thousands of people who were happy to help for nothing.
We left before the flame went out, perhaps we might have been close to tears. Next week we won't be taking the Javelin train to Stratford International. All good things must come to an end and London 2012 was an incredibly good thing.
￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼Over to you Rio, you have a lot to live up to.