That’s the word that sums up the Olympics for me. It’s what we heard the athletes saying again and again. It’s what their performances amounted to. It was the enthusiasm and support of the crowd. It’s what was achieved in grand style by those who organised and ran this extraordinary celebration of human endeavour.
One of my most vivid memories will be of switching on the television for the news each morning at 7.00am, then finding the tears streaming down my face even before I’d properly woken up. As each of the previous day’s triumphs were relived so the heroes were paraded on the breakfast TV sofa. Also, as I’ve travelled to the country on several occasions I was so, so proud for Jamaica. I can just imagine how their sprinters’ achievements were celebrated at home. I am in huge admiration of the respect that Usain Bolt and Johann Blake showed for other countries’ national anthems, even stopping TV interviews when the flags were raised. Both of them also sang their own anthem with unashamed pride, something I wish more of our athletes had managed.
Britain is truly great. The games and our achievements at them prove that. We exceed every reasonable expectation that we could have of ourselves. That is why we have such a proud history, why we are the leaders that we continue to be and why we hold a place in the world out of all proportion to our size and resources.
That our athletes and those who train and organise them can achieve so much sheds a very harsh light on those that now run our government and economy. Today we are let down by leaders who are pygmies compared to the giants that have made Britain great.
The British people can achieve the unbelievable. All we need are the leaders to show us the way. If we replaced the 29 members of the cabinet with our 29 gold medal winners I think we might do far better.