The London 2012 Olympics have been wonderful - as a spectacle, as entertainment, as an example of visionary production and organisation and for a display of sporting prowess of the highest calibre. One or two countries or players let themselves down through doping or deliberate match fixing, but otherwise the representatives of so many nations are leaving the UK today with justified pride: to be at an Olympics is an achievement in itself, but from the superlative US and China winning teams to the attendance for the first time of a female Olympian from Saudi Arabia against great opposition in her home land, these two weeks have been amazing.
The British people have been amazed too, both by the success of the events themselves and by the success of our own athletes. The focus is on the future now, capitalising on the popularity and success of these two weeks, to ensure that the legacy of 2012 is investing in school and other sports in order to encourage both more healthy exercise for children and to identify and develop new sporting stars. “Competitiveness is back”.
While the idea of promoting activity in schools where (particularly in the state sector) there often are no sports facilities nor timetabling provision, thus contributing to boredom, disruption and obesity, is unarguable, there are potential problems with this focused approach on the format of the 2012 Olympic legacy. It will be wonderful to give all children from all backgrounds the chance to find their sporting talent and perhaps to shine, but there will be many children who will feel they have none: every child has a gift, whether it is on the sports field or on the stage, working with animals or on a computer, and what is important is to find that unique spark and to help it to become an unquenchable flame.
What has been the highlight for me of these Games has been the community spirit it has engendered, from the thousands of volunteers and support staff on the ground to the media and the country – perhaps other parts of the world also. It is rare to find almost universal approval from an often cynical society, and this could be the true legacy. Britain has pulled together at a time of pride, and to be able to pull together in times of adversity too would a great achievement, for then any problem would become an opportunity and so a success. For a short period of time we changed from an “I” society to a “we” community: to make this our natural state of being once again would be a truly wonderful legacy of the London 2012 Olympics, and one which could, beautifully, be copied elsewhere.]]>