SO that’s it for another four years and already the cynics are saying there is no way London 2012 can possibly match Beijing 2008.
It will certainly be a hard act to follow. But I’m sure the wizards who conjure up visual images to leave us open mouthed will have a few tricks up their sleeves.
They’ll probably beam a Chelsea pensioner up to the top of a floodlit Big Ben to the accompaniment of Chas and Dave, and have free pie and mash for all the athletes from Aruba to Zimbabwe as they are ferried into the Olympic stadium by London taxis.
Lord Coe, Viscount Redgrave and Earl Beckham will replicate their famous achievements on track, river and football pitch, and national icons Ant and Dec, Davina McCall, Chris Tarrant, Carol Vorderman and Jeremy Clarkson (Prime Minister designate) will carry the Olympic torch, finally self propelled by Jade Goody and Boris Johnson, the ultimate Gods, to light the Olympic torch, specially erected above McDonald’s Milton Keynes to reflect world unity.
Looking at the final medals table in Beijing, it was heartening to see Great Britain in such a lofty position, but I reckon we should beware the stans.
Kazakh - Uzbeki - Kyrqyzs - Tajiki - Afghani - all the stans were among the medals, in fact put them all together and they’d be top 10.
Mind you if Michael Phelps had entered as a country he’d have been 9th!
The American’s eight swimming golds were more than Canada, South Africa, Argentina and Greece could muster between them.
It was emotional to see countries like Mauritius, Mongolia, Moldova, Afghanistan and Togo represented on the podium for the first time, and astounding to learn that despite being such a populous nation India celebrated it’s first individual gold medal in 108 years of trying when Abhinav Bindra won the men’s 10m air rifle final.
There have been heart-rending human stories too, like that of Natalie Du Toit, the South African who competed in the 10km swim despite losing a leg in a motor-cycle accident seven years ago.
Cuba’s Dayron Robles made day-to-day spectacles fashionable by streaking to gold in the 100m hurdles.
Not since David Steele defied the West Indies fearsome pace attack has any sportsman done more for those of us who are visually challenged.
And talking of Caribbean pace how about Usain Bolt, whose father says the secret behind the fastest man in the world is eating yams? I must have a word with my local greengrocer.
THE Chinese may have had a giggle watching us grappling with chopsticks, but their attempts at scooping up baked beans one at a time at breakfast are equally rib tickling.
Work wise I’ve had a ball. As part of a team of around 15 commentators covering 30 sports almost round the clock for 105 countries it’s been exhausting but professionally enriching.
You just do what you have to do and get on with it.
For example, tennis didn’t get under way one day because of rain until after 6pm. Colleague Glen Larmer commentated alone on four centre court matches for 11 hours with the only breaks between matches (3 x 20 minutes).
At the boxing venue our man Michael “The Mouth” Schiavello called 279 bouts in two weeks. He hasn’t got much mouth left.
By contrast the BBC had a 450 workforce here, and if you think that’s over the top how about NBC, the American channel who sent 3,500 to Beijing including 200 chefs!
One area where London may struggle to emulate China is in the genuine warmth of its people.
The thousands of volunteers who make the Games special have been unfailingly warm, helpful, and most noticeably proud to have put their country on the map.
During almost a month in China, I have been ripped off only once – by a rickshaw man who took advantage of my inability to hail a taxi for which I was competing with Brough Scott of the BBC and about 3,000 Chinese people.
It’s impossible to give taxi drivers or waitresses a tip in this country – it’s not part of their culture to accept. Do you think we’ll be saying the same for their London equivalents in four years time?
No, neither do I, sadly.