13/08/2012 09:56 | By Zoe Vaughan

London 2012: it's been emotional

Something has shifted in the last 17 days. Something fundamental.

This nation of shopkeepers has sloughed off its cynicism, filled brimful its half empty glass and embraced positivity.

It has made us giddy as Americans.

We waved flags, cheered, won things. We smiled. We spoke to people in the street. We said please and thank you. We were nice about the BBC. We had good news in our newspapers. Men in vans stopped swearing at cyclists. We stopped blaming people for failure. We stopped failing. The Queen jumped out of a helicopter.

It was all rather neatly summed up by a woman watching the cycling in Bushy Park: "Bradley Wiggins says he's going to win gold. That's not very British."

And then Danny Boyle gave us ... Mr Bean on an electric keyboard

She was right. For Britain big sporting events mean to resign oneself to a battle well fought but ultimately not won. To herald every semi-final victory with a sinking feeling and a sanguine: "Maybe."

And maybe Mitt Romney, the US presidential hopeful, had a point when he questioned whether Britain was ready for the Olympics. Perhaps as a nation we were not. Not ready for the overwhelming battering of success, achievement, pride, love, excitement, sheer unbridled joy that the biggest show on earth would bring.

When the Olympics opened 17 days ago we were still looking for someone to blame for the security scandal. G4S, the politicians, G4S again. An Olympic bus carrying US athletes was lost for four hours in London getting from Heathrow Airport to the Olympic Village.

Victoria Pendleton

Victoria Pendleton: just one of many heros

There was much grumbling about the prospects of a traffic nightmare: "I didn't want the Olympics, I didn't ask for the Olympics and now it's going to stuff up the M4." Acres of Olympics souvenirs sat untouched on shelves, the cycloptic eyes of Mandeville and Wenlock destined for a life in landfill.

And then Danny Boyle gave us dark satanic mills, 40 sheep, three cows, nine geese, two goats, 10 chickens, 10 ducks, 12 horses and Kenneth Branagh. He gave us 7,346 square metres of England's green and pleasant land, 320 NHS beds, 600 dancing nurses and Mr Bean on an electric keyboard.

"We sat down with a blank sheet of paper and asked what is it about us? You focus on the best of us." said Boyle explaining his vision for the £27m Isles of Wonder ceremony. What he surely must have neglected to say is that he also had a very big Post-it note above his computer which read: "Queen jumping out of helicopter? With Bond? Corgis? Must ask Palace."

How long before we stop smiling in the street? How long before the war between cyclists and motorists begins again?

He reminded us of the peculiar and slightly weird experience of being British in 2012 and as the 204 copper petals formed the Olympic flame that would burn throughout the games, so Britain's games fervour was ignited.

We learnt a new lexicon and talked of PBs (personal bests should you really still need to ask), we replaced the word "under" with "sub" and we spoke of transitions and pelotons. We used the word legend too much, and inappropriately. We marvelled that horses could apparently dance to Tears for Fears and discussed the logistics of how to administer energy drinks to 10k open water swimmers using a pole and something that looked very much like a plastic pint glass.

We tweeted. A lot. And our real life sporting heroes tweeted back messages of thanks.

Then there were the Olympics moments. Where to start? The montages, snapshots, profiles, post race interviews. The images that will stay locked in the minds of the generation these games were supposed to inspire.

  • Mo Farah taking gold in the 10,000m and 5,000m embracing his pregnant wife on the track. The Mo-Bot celebration.
  • Bradley Wiggins, king of the road, sitting on his Hampton Court throne.
  • Jessica Ennis giving her all in the final 800m of the heptathlon.
  • Gemma Gibbons, the judo silver medallist mouthing "I love you" to her departed mother.
  • Nick Dempsey, the windsurfing silver medallist, diving into the sea to swim to his wife who sacrificed her gold medal-winning sailing career so he could pursue his.
  • Greg Rutherford working the crowd after his winning long jump.
  • The Brownlee brothers embracing after taking gold and bronze in the triathlon.
  • Victoria Pendleton grasping the hand of Anna Meares, the Australian, after coming second to her in the cycling individual sprint.
  • Andrew Murray winning at Wimbledon.
  • The look of total and utter shock on the face of Katherine Copeland as she and her rowing partner crossed the line having taken gold in the lightweight double sculls.
  • Sir.Chris.Hoy. His tears of joy at becoming Britain's greatest ever Olympian.

And then of course there's the medal tally that put us third in the world: 65 in total, 29 of them gold.

Mo Farah stunned the world

Mo Farah stunned the world

Inspired we have been. Not just by achievement but by the athletes, their words, and their humility. To a nation used to spoilt, arrogant and ill-mannered footballers. Our Olympians have been a revelation.

As the start of the Premier League is now less than a week away, footballers beware. Britain will no longer tolerate your childishness. A nation expects. It expects better role models

However already normal service is starting to resume. The Tia Sharp murder case has bumped smiling gold medallists from the front pages and the closing ceremony has been lambasted all over Twitter for Russell Brand and basically being a bit "school disco".

We have stunning memories that will last forever but can Britain keep up at least some the optimism? How long before the lustre of Britain's gold rush begins to wear off, tarnished by the recession. How long before we stop smiling in the street? How long before the war between cyclists and motorists begins again? Before we stop saying "Please", "Thank you" and "Hello"? Before we forget what it felt like to be proud of being British? That will be the true test of our Olympic legacy.

The Union Flag re-imagined to reflect Team GB's success at London 2012

The Union Flag re-imagined to reflect Team GB's success at London 2012 (© MSN Hack Cartoon)

13/08/2012 02:12
I'm 62yrs so wont see the Olympics held in England again so I've watch at every opportunity, I've cheered laughed and cried and felt so much admiration for those wonderful Olympians. The whole event was spectacular - I cried with pride! Thankyou everyone who made it so wonderful!!
13/08/2012 04:33

As a British expat living in China, I have been blown away by the whole Olympic games, the remarkable venues, the sportsmanship oif the Britich athletes and the wonderful support they gained from the British public. 

 I have spent years listening to people overseas telling me the Brits are just a nation of has beens,  moaners and wingers, thank God these people have been proved so wrong. British are a unique people, they keep there feelings and emotions well in check, but when it comes time to shine and stand up and be counted, they always raise the bar and this time the bar was raised to a spectacualr level.  Thanks to everyone in the Uk who took part, organised or even just supported our athletes, you made many of us expats damn proud to be British once again,  May the spirit that was seen during the Olympics not be lost, it is what is needed to move the UK forward in these tough economic times.

AS a Brit expat living 'downunder' cant tell you how immensely proud we all are here of the 'mothership' and our fantastic Team GB, the wonderful organisation and mind blowing events, opening & closing ceremonies - Ive never been so proud to be British!  Go GB!!!!
13/08/2012 04:36
just two words to describe it all  ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC ,,,, well done to everyone ,,,
13/08/2012 08:32
Who thinks the Olympic flame should have been left or be reignited for the paraolympics?
13/08/2012 07:03
olympics 2012 have been best tv ive ever seen rule Britannia
13/08/2012 09:38
Wow, there really are some miserable W*****s on here, get over yourselves, the Olympics were absolutely brilliant, woke everybody up to just how awesome we can be as a nation, Wicked music, great sense of humour and showed how much of a warm welcoming bunch of people we really are!! So don't give me the whole "eurgh we paided for all that".....  Bulls**t, you pay taxes full stop, no more or less than usual so don't use that as an excuse to mask how miserabe you are as a person!! The sense of Pride We've all been given as a Nation has been Priceless, these games truely have inspired a generation, and I for one can safely say I AM PROUD TO BE BRITISH!!!!!!!!! :-)
13/08/2012 09:24
The 2012 Olympic games were the most inspirational and emotional sports events I have ever witnessed. How can any youngsters with any sporting ambitions who watched the games fail to get motivated by what they saw, i.e. Mo Farah or Usain Bolt.   Well done Team GB, you done us proud. Let's bring back competitive sport in schools, so we can build on what we already have. 
13/08/2012 10:36
At  first i was against the olympics being in london due to the financial burden etc,ect,, but i've had to eat my words.. this has been a truly spectacular and amazing event,, i've cheered, clapped and willed the athletes on,, the gymnastics, swimming and athletics did it for me... the opening and closing ceremonies summed up british culture, music, diversity,, tolrence and pride to a tee,, i felt so proud to be british.. the music and artistes were all really awesome.. well done..  fantastic!!!
13/08/2012 03:08
Thank You, London!!!!!!!,,,,,,Excuse me, I think that should be,,,,,Thank You Great Britain.The Majority of the games took place in London. But, not lets forget,,,,,,Was it Just Londoners, that attended the Olympics,,,,,,and hosted the football,,,,,,,,,and only Londoners taxes, that payed for the event to take part in the first place.?? Where all the working volunteers, from London?..........Not a few hours old and the great North South divide opens again!!!!Sorry for the rant,,,,,,,,,,BUT, THANK YOU GREAT BRITAIN.
13/08/2012 09:18
Hats off to you london, Well done to all the athletes, take a moment to feel proud to be British
13/08/2012 09:29

Thought the opening ceremony and the two weeks were great....but.....that has to be the biggest line up of drug users thats ever been in one place(and I don't mean the athletes)Kate Moss,Naomi Cambell,George Michael and Russell Brand....wonder if the police drugs dogs were working overtime last night.

Talking of Russell Brand..I thought the closing ceremony was about our great history and Britishness....That man is vile!

13/08/2012 01:54
'England expects' ? I think you mean Great Britain......
13/08/2012 01:19

Maybe i'm wrong but i always thought the Paralympics were part of the Olympics too...


Also Pa.press.net your showing your stance again, please fully read your "Newshounds" articles before publishing.


As the start of the Premier League is now less than a week away, footballers beware. Britain will no longer tolerate your childishness. *England* expects. It expects better role models.




13/08/2012 10:28
why do people moan so much? the comments on here are disgraceful, these Olympics have brought this country together and all you can talk about is the bloody recession. the recession will continue Olympics or not so all those blaming the recession on the Olympics or complaining that its not helping are darn right grumpy,clueless and lifeless. i think the reason behind people's moaning is in Britain we do not like to praise ourselves and years of putting ourselves down has led to some people taking it too far and being negative about everything that Britain does. the closing ceremony may have been cheesy but it had personality, past Olympics have been fireworks,fireworks a bit of dancing and more fireworks with no historic meaning. London provided an incredible spectacle that will live long in the memory and will inspire a generation and those moaning can carry on because at the end you'll think "why couldn't i enjoy the greatest show on earth?". and you'll realise what grumpy sods. however i am extremely proud of MOST of the public getting behind the Olympics and providing the most noise i have ever heard in an athletics stadium and supporting true sporting greats like Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis. im so sad its over :(.
13/08/2012 10:08

It has been the best two weeks ever, for myself personally.  Negativity and depression have affected me greatly for the past few years in so many areas of my life and I am sure it is similar for others to.  You switch on the TV, all doom and gloom.  You look at people on their way to and from work each day - faces like thunder.  People were quick to anger, but never quick to forgive.  Then the Olympics came to London and the people changed, the news changed.  Celebration, hapiness and a pleasure to be part of something amazing.  Our athletes worked their socks off and were rewarded for their efforts with the country behind them.  All did us proud, even those who did not receive a medal, deserve recognition for their efforts.  There was minimal disappointment, but quickly forgotten. 


I fear that now it is over, the negativity and depression will return and I personally don't want that anymore.  So tired of seeing, hearing and feeling pain, negativity and depression in the world.  Lets get behind Team GB in the Paralympics and keep that fantastic positivity going.


Failing that, there is always Doctor Who ;-)

13/08/2012 10:39
I shall miss the Olympics, two weeks watching real dedicated sportsmen & sportswomen competeing in there profession.   Not once did i watch Pearce & his overflated team perform, NO THANKS.
13/08/2012 11:01
Stop moaning some of you and be proud of your country and what has been achieved. For too long we have been the underdog, so maybe that's about to be changed.
13/08/2012 09:06
The closing ceremony was great but I wanted someone to strangled the BBC commentators. I wanted to listen to the music and this was interrupted by their incessant prattling. They were talking as if we hadn't been watching the Olympic Games for the past 17 days and knew nothing. I kept shouting at them - "for goodness sake just shut up!"
13/08/2012 12:09

I am in my ninth decade having lived a lot, seen a lot, been through poverty (the depression of the thirties) to the good standard of living we have today.The Queen's Jubilee and the Olympics rank amongst the  greatest events I have lived through.I hand on the baton to the next generation with the confident expectation that Britain  will  move onward and upward. WELL DONE BRITAIN YOU DID US PROUD !!!      .  AN OPTIMIST

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