12/08/2012 13:00 | By Nick Metcalfe

How did London stack up as an Olympic city?



1. Aerial view of the Olympic Park, in Stratford, east London, showing the Olympic Stadium and a view of Canary Wharf (© Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire)
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  • 1. Aerial view of the Olympic Park, in Stratford, east London, showing the Olympic Stadium and a view of Canary Wharf (© Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire)
  • The Olympic Stadium and the ArcelorMittal Orbit (© Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire)
  • Here we see the Olympic hockey arena, located in the Olympic park (© Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire)
  • Shanaze Reade will be hoping to claim Olympic gold here on the BMX track (© Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire)
  • The Olympic park in all its glory with the stadium, aquatics centre and water polo arena (© Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire)
  • The athlete's village is in the forground here with the Basketball arena seen just behind the flats (© Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire)
  • This is the Lee Valley White Water Centre, which will host the Olympic water water events (© Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire)
  • A view of the Olympic Park looking out over East London and beyond (© Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire)
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A number of Olympic venues have been captured from above in these stunning images

London 2012 has been a stunnning spectacle, thrilling millions of watchers in Britain and around the world. But how much is down to the host city and how much is simply the magic of the Olympics transported to our capital. Nick Metcalfe, who has attended the last three summer Games, offers his analysis.

The sport

In a word, unforgettable. We have gorged on two weeks of great deeds and emotional victories. Usain Bolt cemented his legendary status on the track, while Michael Phelps bowed out as the most successful Olympian of them all in the pool. Parochially speaking, we were spoilt like never before. There was Sir Chris Hoy on the track, Ben Ainslie winning a fourth sailing gold, poster girl Jessica Ennis making her dreams come true. And possibly above them all there was Mo, wonderful Mo. In winning both the 10,000m and 5,000m titles at this Games, Farah ensured his own special place in British sporting history. 10/10

Venues

The Olympic Stadium was simply stunning. I have to confess that I thought it looked like an identikit stadium before the Games, but it proved to be a splendid arena. It had a noise all of its own, and it was cozy too, a fitting and homespun counterbalance to Beijing's staggering Birds Nest. Many of the other venues proved to be a triumph design wise, in particular the velodrome. Greenwich and Horse Guards Parade looked truly spectacular for a television audience. The Copper Box, used for handball, was so atmospheric it was christened 'the box that rocks'. 9/10

Transport

Let's be honest, it worked. Most of the time, anyway. To be fair, the transport usually does work out at most Olympics, but its efficient functioning did come as something of a relief to us Londoners, as we certainly know that the transport system has its faults. Those semi-apocalyptic messages from London's Mayor Boris Johnson before the Games clearly had an effect. There were a few gremlins here and there - the Central Line which serves the Olympic Park broke down badly one morning, the heat prevented some mainline services from stopping at Stratford in the buildup - but overall it was as efficient as we could have hoped for, well organised, and a success. 7/10

The city

The Olympics was omnipresent, and I like that. At the last two summer Games, in Athens and Beijing, it sometimes felt as if the Games was taking place somewhere else. But London felt like an Olympic city wherever you went. I think those special signs plastered all over town helped. I will be amazed if London's tourist trade doesn't receive a shot in the arm, so glorious did the city look. And the rain stayed away most of the time, which was a true blessing. 8/10

The people

Sir Chris Hoy

It's OK by me

No complaints here. Strangers actually spoke to each other on the London Underground. Just to clarify for the non-Londoners reading, this is a quite incredible thing. The volunteers are nearly always special at the Games, and they were again here. They were smiling, helpful and happy to be part of this unique show. The military, dragged into London at the last minute were helpful and demonstrated a sense of humour so often absent from security guards. And what about Londoners? I wonder if they'll be seen in a different light now, as nearly everybody I met came across as courteous, decent and welcoming. A genuine surprise but surely it can't last? 10/10

Organisation

From the moment that the sparkling opening ceremony unfolded before our eyes, the London Olympics defied our worries that there would be major organisational issues. I can get lost anywhere, but everything was so well sign posted that I found everything easy. On the really busy nights in Stratford, the volunteers and authorities were impressive in ensuring certain areas didn't get too busy. Entering the various arenas ran as smoothly as could be expected, even though there was airport type security it never felt too intrusive or frustrating. In short, this was a Games at which things worked. 8/10

The likely legacy

To a large extent, this one is for the future. For one thing, I'll be amazed if a whole generation of British youngsters haven't been inspired, to one degree or another. It must have been amazing to be in Britain and watch this Olympics through young eyes. As for the venues, there certainly seems to be more fixed plans than there has been at previous Games. I will certainly be one of those making a trip across to the Aquatics Centre for a swim when it opens to the public in 2014. As for the Olympic village being turned into affordable housing, let's hope they really do go to deserving people. 7/10

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