One of my rare non-gaming posts today as, with the end of the marathon, my interest in the 2012 Olympics pretty much comes to an end.
Despite fighting against the erratic BBC coverage over the last couple weeks, I managed to keep up with the sports I watch year round (athletics, cycling, football and tenis,) the sports you watch because they are on (the swimming, canoeing and the rowing) and the freak sports you get hooked on every four years (handball, weightlifting and gymnastics!)
Scenes from the games will surely be replayed again and again over the coming years and I think that London can be justly proud of hosting a great games. The array of great victories (and occasional great defeat) make this easily an equal to the earlier games I've seen (I vaguely remember Seoul, but clearly recall Barcelona.)
I could happily spend hours writing about the highlights from my point of view, but this isn't a sports blog, so I'll just put some pictures up from my favorite events.
Right now, I hope the country is bracing itself for a bit of an Olympic backlash. Certainly, most criticism of London's hosting of the games has been all but ignored since the opening ceremony, but I strongly suspect that it will return to prominence over the coming weeks and months.
Fundamentally, most criticism was aimed at either the cost and at the location of the games, and I agree with much of what has been said. In terms of funding, the London Olympics has been very successful in that, with only a couple alterations, it has stuck close to budget. However, if you look at some of the funding sources (namely, charities, lottery and sponsorship,) how much funding has been diverted from other beneficiaries. Funding from corporate sources comes with implicit tax benefits, would you rather Lloyds had paid more in general taxation than they gave to the Olympics?
Secondly, something the Lord Coe and others seem blindingly oblivious to, is that these are the London Olympics, not the Great British or English or United Kingdom(ish) Olympics. Although I have some faith the legacy of the Olympics will be felt across the whole country, there will be diminishing returns the further from the Southeast you are. The vast, vast amount of benefit the games generate will be felt in London. Throwing the football around the north and having the sailing on the south coast does nothing to mitigate this. Saying that individuals will "get out of the games as much as they are willing to put in" struck me as a rather elitist and arrogant statement by Coe (does he know how much a week in London costs?) I'd have liked to have had a bit more honesty from all parties, broadcasters included, on this. So far, all announced post 2012 events are taking place in London.
For all that, I'm by no means down on the Olympics. I made a concerted effort, once the games started, to enjoy them and watch as much as I could without grumbling. I certainly see no contradiction in being generally positive about the games, but having some fundamental problems with their organisation and presentation.
Still, an hour after watching Stephen Kiprotich's fantastic marathon effort, the proper football season starts (I know I'm Scottish and our season started a couple weeks ago, but shut up) and that's a different kind of enjoyment. I've got plans for a couple trips to Stamford Bridge this season - with the Olympics finished, maybe I'll even be able to afford it too!