OKAY, I promise this will be my last article about the Olympics (the Paralympics don’t count). Here’s a dozen of my favourite Olympic moments:
COMMUNITY: Being part of a crowd of thousands lining Huddersfield’s streets in June to see the Olympic torch pass, albeit fleetingly. Precariously perched on the narrow window sill of HSBC in Marsh for an hour, my discomfort was nothing compared to that of Paratrooper Ben Parkinson, 27, Britain’s most wounded surviving soldier, who courageously and painfully slowly carried the torch through his home town of Doncaster.
HERITAGE: The dark Satanic mill chimneys sprouting out of England’s green and pleasant land and the ironworkers of the industrial revolution producing flaming Olympic rings in the sky during the opening ceremony. A stroke of creative genius from our unique and quirky nation.
PRIDE: Kirani James, 19, the first person from Grenada (population 110,000) to win a medal, standing on the gold medal rostrum having won the men’s 400-metre race and being a lone voice among 80,000 as he proudly belted out his Caribbean island’s national anthem at the top of his voice.
BEAUTY: The grace and elegance of the dressage horses performing in front of the spectacular backdrop of Maritime Greenwich.
INSPIRATION: After the semi-final of the 400 metres it was Kirani who rushed over to double amputee Oscar Pistorius to exchange name bibs. He described the South African sprinter, who lost his legs as a baby and runs on blades, as “inspirational”. Pistorius finished last, but was cheered to the rafters by the sporting British crowd.
OPPORTUNISM: Cheeky schoolboy Henry Caplan, 11, who darted past Roger Federer’s family to give a big hug to an emotional and bemused Andy Murray, winner of the tennis men’s singles, in front of millions of TV viewers. “Anything for my fans”, said Murray, who gained a legion of new English fans when he draped himself in the Union Flag.
POIGNANCY: Gemma Gibbons, 25, who looked up and said “I love you, Mum” as she won the under-78kg judo silver medal. She later placed her Olympic bouquet on the grave of her mother, who raised her single-handedly before dying of leukaemia eight years ago.
COURAGE: GB hockey captain Kate Walsh, whose jaw was broken in three places during the 4-0 win over Japan, returning to play again a couple of days later and leading GB to bronze.
HUMILITY: Australia’s sports minister Kate Lundy rowing a length at Eton Dornay in a Team GB shirt: punishment for losing a bet with her British counterpart over who would fare better at London 2012.
EMOTION: Sir Chris Hoy crying his eyes out after winning the keirin and his sixth gold medal. He blubbed like a baby throughout the national anthem, showing just how much the home Games really meant to the British athletes.
HAPPINESS: Out of the ring the constant smile on the face of West Yorkshire’s gold medal-winning boxer Nicola Adams. How brilliant to do something that you love.
HUMOUR: British bobbies doing an impersonation of Usain Bolt, the fastest man on earth, after he won the 200m. The foreign visitors loved it and the moment summed up the British sense of humour and the marvellous spirit engendered by the Games.