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London 2012: We’ve Crossed The Finishing Line – 9 September 2012

EYES OF THE WORLD: Matthew, my brother, looks down at the track of the London 2012 Olympic Stadium. (IMG_2596)

SHUTTING UP SHOP: The Olympic Stadium will be closed indefinitely after the Paralympic Closing Ceremony. (IMG_2687)We’ve won the fight, scored the goal, and hit our target. And other such clichéd phrases under the strained semantic field of success in sport, to show our satisfaction at being able to claim we staged this “greatest of games”. No one can honestly say that they ‘knew it would be alright all along’… but it turned out to be. The long-prophesied ‘London traffic meltdown’ never really materialised. Most of the empty seats in the venues eventually found warm bottoms to comfort. The hugely controversial surface-to-air missiles on that block of flats thankfully never needed to be deployed. But, on the subject of hitting a target, our Great British teams thrashed the ones they’d been set: TeamGB finished with 65 medals (25 of them Gold) compared to their target of 48, while ParalympicsGB (who beat their target of 103 medals on Thursday) leave the Athletes’ Village in third place on the table, with 120 medals in their bags (actually eighteen more than second-place Russia), including 34 Golds.

Now, as the circus packs up and heads for Rio, and the world’s athletes and journalists head back to their own respective countries, I’m sad that the thing we’ve all been following for weeks, months, and years – with both excitement and anticipation, and yet (until it actually began) a strange, irrepressible sense of doubt – is now over.

OLYMPIC RINGS: The Olympic rings stand atop a hill at the park. (IMG_9976-edited)

PARALYMPIC AGITOS: The Olympic rings by the Velodrome were replaced with the three agitos. (IMG_2748)

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Seb Coe ‘Made In Britain’ Speech, In Full – 9 September 2012

The curtain fell on London 2012 tonight, as the Paralympic Games came to a tremendous end with their own Closing Ceremony. Lord Seb Coe delivered a fabulous and universally well-received speech, in which he thanked all those who’d made the Games so successful.

ROUSING SPEECH: Seb Coe delivered a closing speech that delighted the 80,000-strong crowd in the Stadium.

ROUSING SPEECH: Seb Coe delivered a closing speech that delighted the 80,000-strong crowd in the Stadium.

“Your royal Highness, Sir Philip, distinguished guests, ladies, and gentlemen.

Together these past few weeks, we’ve shared some wonderful days, haven’t we?

Days when incredible people have performed feats we hardly thought possible. Days in the Paralympic Games when our minds opened to what people can do, to what they can achieve by sheer talent and determination.

And I want to share with you two stories from these days. Everyone will have their own tales to tell, but these are mine.

I was travelling on the Tube when I met someone wearing the familiar purple uniform and a pass marked ‘Medic’. A Games-Maker. And the Games-Makers stand among the heroes of London 2012. We began talking. His name was Andrew, and he told me he was a doctor at St Mary’s Hospital, on his way to helping out at Boxing. But when I tried to thank him, he wouldn’t let me. He said he was the one who wanted to do the thanking. And as we did a very British dance over who should thank whom, he suddenly cut through all the politeness and said: ‘I was on duty on 7/7, that awful day. For me, this is closure. I wasn’t sure I should come, or whether I could face it. I’m so glad I did, for I’ve seen the worst of mankind, and now I’ve seen the best of mankind.’

Just a few days later, I met Emily, a Games-Maker at the Paralympic Games. She talked of what the Games meant for her, and what participating in Wheelchair Basketball means for her. ‘It has lifted a cloud of limitation’, she said. So Andrew and Emily, I’m going to have the last word: thank you. Thank you to you and all the volunteers.

The Paralympic Games have set new records every day: sporting records, records for crowds, the television audiences, for unbridled spirit. In this country, we will never think of sport the same way, and we will never think of disability the same way.

And Emily, yes: the Paralympics have lifted the ‘cloud of limitation’.

Finally, there are some famous words you can find stamped on the bottom of a product. Words that, when you read them, you know mean high quality, mean skill, mean creativity. We’ve stamped those words on the Olympic and Paralympic Games of London 2012. London 2012 – ‘made in Britain’.”

— Lord Coe, LOCOG Chairman, speech at London 2012 Paralympics Closing Ceremony, 9 September 2012

LEND ME YOUR EARS: Seb Coe appeared relaxed as he delivered his fourth and final Games Ceremony speech, at the closing of the Paralympics.

LEND ME YOUR EARS: Seb Coe appeared relaxed as he delivered his fourth and final Games Ceremony speech, at the closing of the Paralympics.


Don’t miss my poignant reflections on the end of London 2012, and read Boris Johnson’s ‘Olympomania’ speech that started the sporting festival over six weeks ago.