The Olympics and Paralympics created an atmosphere of pride and passion across the country, but now that the Olympic Stadium is quiet and the athletes have all dispersed – many on well deserved holidays – what will the lasting legacy of this fantastic summer of sport actually be?
The gold-painted post-boxes in the Olympic medal winners’ towns was a nice touch, and the defacing of a small number of them was regrettable, but probably inevitable given some of their locations – plus the damage to Andy Murray’s post-box was attributed to people taking flecks of the paint home as mementos.
Everyone wants a piece of Team GB.
Athletes aren’t paid the big bucks that, say, a Premier League footballer earns, but they can earn serious money through endorsements. Sponsorship deals came thick and fast before the Olympics but now the stars of the London 2012 games can pretty much name their price – Jessica Ennis has deals with Olay and British Airways while Sir Chris Hoy is the face of Kellogg’s and Gillette.
Photo opportunities and ‘guest appearance’ gigs will also keep our Olympians busy – I have no doubt that there’ll be towns up and down the country trying desperately to get hold of their local Olympians to switch on Christmas lights.
Victoria Pendleton and Louis Smith are also both contestants on this year’s Strictly Come Dancing. You wouldn’t like to bet against either of them, such is the strength of feeling and support for our medal winners – but fellow Olympian Greg Rutherford spoke to Fearne Cotton as a guest on her radio show recently and told her that his money was on Louis saying “I’ve seen him break-dance!”
Speaking of Greg Rutherford, the amiable athletics star was one of the most vocal (and emotional) members of Team GB during the last month’s bus-top parade.
At the parade, Greg Rutherford spoke about his pride at what he and the team had achieved, but he also stressed that it was up to him and his fellow Olympians to be proactive about the kind of influence they can have on the general public. And he’s already lived up to his promise by joining fellow GB athletes Christine Ohurogu and Lawrence Clarke to participate in the Aviva Startrack masterclass with school children in Birmingham.
Whatever the Team GB athletes choose to do next is, in the end, somewhat irrelevant. They have inspired the country to feel proud, they have got thousands off their sofas to try new sports and take an interest at grass roots level and they have given us something else to hold over Australia! – Job done.
For some of the biggest names in Team GB – Victoria Pendelton among them – London 2012 marked the end of their career in athletics, but winning an Olympic medal is the sporting equivalent of an Oscar – you will always be an Olympian and you will always have the currency associated with that.
And if you were part of Team GB at the London 2012 Olympics, your place in history is assured.