As a miserable bastard, cynic, underwhelmist and general Olympics skeptic, I have to say that I've been amazed by these games. The run up to the games was a feast of tedium with a seemingly neverending torch relay. We then had the G4S security and ticketing fiascos along with so much hype that it almost seemed as if the event itself would be a monumental failure.
The last decade has been one of individualism with the rise of technology meaning genuine social contact is no longer a necessity when we can easily sign in to Facebook or ring our families instead of visiting them. Whilst people have been proud to be British there hasn't necessarily been a reason why we should be. Previous generations have experienced shared positive moments such as the fall of the Berlin Wall etc. Over the last decade we've had a trail of tragedy such as innocent lives lost in the 7/7 and 9/11 bombings, the London riots and the collapse of our economic system, made worse by the very bankers responsible profiting with multi-million pound paychecks and bonuses.
But this Olympics, whilst it's a cliche, have made Britain great again. We've seen the joy, the heartbreak, the excruciating pain, but above all what it means for these people to compete for Great Britain. The Olympics has provided our positive shared moment. Ironically, issues that people attack to say that Britain has lost its way such as multi-culturalism have defined what Britishness is in these Olympic Games. The coming together of races, cultures, religion etc for a shared goal - to do the very best for this country.
We've seen people give their all for Great Britain, from the brilliance of Farah, Ennis, Wiggins etc, to the dejection of the two rowers who won silver, with Mark Hunter being carried out of his boat by Sir Steve Redgrave and then claiming that they "let the nation down", to Dominic King finishing last in the 50km walk to an incredible reception. Winning medals is great, but to give your all for your country is worth so much more. I'm not afraid to say that at times my eyes have began to well up seeing these magnificent people represent us.
And it's not just about Great Britain. We've seen athletes, such as Merve Aydin, finishing with an injury, crying but roared on by the crowd. Sarah Attah, the first emale Saudi Arabian track and field athlete to compete finished last, but for her it was about much more than winning. As Dan the Man mentioned on another thread, watching Oscar Pistorius compete was such an inspiration and I'm sure many will agree. To see the joy on the faces of athletes who finish last, yet for who competing is such an honour is inspiring and will personally be a lasting legacy for me - pride in what you achieve.
Whilst we can't be sure of how long lasting the effects of these games will be, and it already has been slightly tarnished by the tragic death of young Tia Sharp, one thing is for certain that for the last two weeks we've been brought together as one in something special that will be remembered and envied by others for generations to come. And how fitting it was, a year after the London Riots in which multi-culturalism was at the very heart of the conflict, that a Somali immigrant delivers yet another brilliant performance roared on by a nation united.
I'm thoroughly glad that I changed my mind and watched as much of these Olympics as possible. For those who didn't, you've missed out.
Hats off to Great Britain for such a brilliant event. Well done to the organisers, well done to the volunteers, well done to the army, well done to every single athlete and well done to Great Britain for getting behind these Olympics.
I for one, am proud to be British.
How do you feel about these games? Do you still feel that they were a waste of resources or do you believe that it's been a magnificent event?