It’s over. After years of planning, London 2012 said goodbye to the world in spectacular style on Sunday night.
For 16 days we have laughed, cried, cheered and Mexican waved every step of the way with Team GB, whether at the Olympic venues or watching from our armchairs.
I’ve lost count of the number of goosebump moments experienced, the incredible sense of pride felt when watching our athletes compete on the world stage, seeing the beautiful venues in all their splendour and looking at the medal table to find us third, yes third, behind the giants that are the US and China.
Finally, finally we can take pride in waving our union flags. It’s okay to wear your national pride, and wear it we have – hats, underwear, deely boppers, Team GB t-shirts, scarves, sweatshirts, shoes…. The list goes on.
And we’ve given ourselves permission to shout about it. Not for political reasons, but for the love of a nation, its incredible Olympians and all the wonderful things about this nation and the people who live here.
It’s more than okay to be quirky, ‘different’, to laugh at ourselves, to show solidarity, to shed a collective tear, to be British and to wear your Britishness on your sleeve.
Danny Boyle’s Isle of Wonders opening ceremony showcased that beautifully with just the right mix of splendour, humour and storytelling. Something that will be talked about for many years to come.
Then came the reason for all this celebration: the sport.
Who can forget the moment when judo competitor Gemma Gibbons looked skyward and mouthed ‘love you mum’ when she won through to her final, eventually going on to win silver?
What about the agony of rowing pair Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter who apologised for winning silver after a dramatic restart, even though their commitment and achievement was never in doubt, or the relief and tears that came when Jessica Ennis finally won the ultimate athletics prize in front of her ecstatic home crowd.
The past two and a bit weeks have brought a nation together at a time when I was beginning to despair for its lack of togetherness and perceived intolerance.
To see people from so many different parts of the country, from such varied backgrounds standing alongside one another shouting and singing at the top of their voices – a human sea of red, white and blue – in the Olympic Stadium is something I will never forget.
The volunteers on the Olympic Park epitomise all that’s been good about London 2012 for me.
So many smiles for the visitors, lots of laughter and singing over the megaphones as people from across the globe arrived and left the park. Never has it been such a pleasure to queue and it’s all down to this amazing army of volunteers in their purple and red uniforms – a credit to the country and the spirit of the Olympic movement.
But how do we harness all this good feeling, this positivity and togetherness? Now, there’s a question.
Monday felt like the day after your holiday. You know, when you trawl through the mountain of waiting post and discover unpaid bills or unpack your case and stare at the never ending pile of dirty washing to be tackled.
Back to reality with a bump. Outside of our Team GB Olympic bubble the BBC round-the-clock coverage has stopped, laundry and bills await. Normal life resumes. There are no gold medals for housework and getting to work on time.
Can we honour the fantastic memories this incredible Olympics has given us by doing our utmost to remain positive, by not allowing cynicism and mistrust to replace our rediscovered optimism, tolerance and positivity?
We’ve shown on the biggest stage of all why we are GREAT Britain – not because of some misguided nod to the days of ’empire’ – but because we are a nation of creative, diverse, funny, talented, quirky, tolerant, compassionate, people and that’s something to be proud of 365 days of the year, every year, not just for 16 days, once in a lifetime.
We’re all part of Team GB. Let’s remember that.
- What do you think? What did your business learn from the Olympics? How will you hold onto that positive vibe? Please share and leave us a comment… we’d love to hear your thoughts.