12 August 2012

I Went For A Run: Why London 2012 Will Have A Lasting Legacy

I have just got back from a run. I did not go very far and I most definitely was not going at any great pace as the stitch set in after about three minutes. Despite that I do feel like I accomplished something. I got off my lazy back-side and completed something that I had set out to do. It is a feeling that I have not felt for a very long time and it felt good. However I would not have made that small amount of effort had it not been for a magnificent Olympic Games in which the feats of all the athletes involved were remarkable, especially when compared to the average person. The whole point of hosting these Games was for it to have a positive impact on Great Britain and I think the great Olympic 'legacy' that Lord Coe kept rumbling on about three weeks ago will materialise. 

As a bog-standard British student it is easy from my point of view to see what an impact the Olympics has had on people. My younger sister almost made it to London 2012 as a rhythmic gymnast and the rest of my family have normal working lives. I see first hand what it is like for a gymnast that has to fight for the smallest amounts of sponsorship while she is mainly funded by her parents. It is athletes like this that represented GB in London and the amount of work that they have put in just to be there should never be under-estimated. Before the Games people were sceptical of the claims that hosting the event was going to be beneficial for Britain and said that hardly anyone was going to be inspired. People mocked the idea of using the 'great British countryside' in the opening ceremony, but crucially, no one envisaged that this Olympics would be as special and unique as it has been. 

To see British athletes like Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis, Bradley Wiggins, Sir Chris Hoy et. al compete with such heart and no little skill can only make young people around the country want to emulate them. When Farah crossed the line last night there was a feeling that that was the moment that London 2012 would always be remembered by. As a young boy he came to London from Somalia when he was eight years old and grew up here. Since then he has matured into an athlete that has made so many sacrifices just so that he can win gold medals for his country. He moved to the US so that he could receive the very best training and his dedication has paid dividends. Budding sportsmen and women all over the UK have seen success in a variety of sports and will want to do the same. 

Lord Coe has recently been made 'legacy' ambassador by David Cameron and his job will be to ensure that Britain profit financially. It is hoped that Britain will have an economic boost of 13 billion pounds as a result of hosting the Games. Cameron said: "I am determined to make the most of the economic opportunities on offer from hosting the Games - making sure that we turn these Games into gold for Britain. I cannot think of a better person than Seb to be our ambassador to the global market-place and make sure we achieve our ambitious legacy targets." 

Coe echoed the Prime Minister's hopes for the future: "In terms of delivering world class events, Britain is at the top of its Game right now. Capitalising on this within the UK and around the world is clearly a priority and I am delighted to be involved."

Team GB will endeavour to make sure that 2012's great medal haul and third-place medal table finish is not a flash in the pan. The average decrease in gold medals won for a country four years after hosting is 30% and the British athletes will want to buck that trend. With 28 golds and possibly two more to come for the boxers in the ExCel Arena it will be very difficult to match that tally in Rio. However there are so many people across the nation that do not usually take an interest in sport that have been completely consumed by the last 16 days. 

Attendance records have been soundly beaten with over seven million people flocking to watch the action unfold while there has been a profit of £80 million from official merchandise alone. Belgian International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge was ecstatic as he said: “The superlatives created here in London will live on long after the cauldron is finally extinguished. In the true spirit of Britain, huge crowds have cheered on not just their athletes but those of the world.” 

London has put on a show that the world has appreciated and now Great Britain looks set to reap the rewards, in a sporting sense and economically. 

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