The Closing Ceremony has begun. The Games are over. David Weir blew our minds this morning when he won the wheelchair marathon. I have a host of new heroes after these last ten days, but David Weir is the one I admire the most. And tonight he is one of the flag-bearers of Paralympics GB with Sarah Storey. When I wrote about the opening ceremony, I said that I expected we would become as familiar with the Paralympians as we had the Olympians. So it has proved. Yes I knew about Oscar and Ellie, David and Sarah. I even had a passing acquaintance with Johnny and Hannah , but it wasn’t like it is now, where I feel as though I have been on an exhilarating and unforgettable journey where they have lead me to highs I never knew about. And I have a hero on the French wheelchair rugby team, Riadh Sallem who kept my attention riveted with his determination and competitiveness. He has star quality, by which I mean you have to watch him, he radiates such energy.
There has been a lot of talk about The Legacy. I’m still thinking about it. It made me go back and search for the bid back in 2005. It took a while to find. It doesn’t seem to be on YouTube. You have to follow this link.
And I found some forgotten heroes of these Games; two men who have not featured in the summer of London2012; Ken Livingstone and Tony Blair. Both were key figures in the Olympic bid seven years ago. I listened to Blair saying this was a bid that had full parliamentary backing, all parties united in support of it, and it struck me as strange and wrong that Boris Johnson and David Cameron have somehow managed to be the political front for this success, to claim the credit and enjoy the kudos when they are basically a pair of Johnny-Come-Latelys, hitching an opportunist ride on the coat tails of those who worked for this. And as for George Osborne, what was he doing there if not to try to get some of the Paralympic gold dust to adhere to his tarnished soul?
If politicians had to be involved, shouldn’t it have been politicians of all flavours, equally represented? It’s the one bad taste that’s left in the mouth.
And how about John Major? He was the Prime Minister who insisted that money raised by the National Lottery should go to support sport. Without that insistence, London2012 would not be. Surely he should have at least been shown in the crowd, interviewed for his reactions, presented a bouquet or three.
There are many legacies that I hope will be because of London 2012, but BoJo and Cameron exploiting them for political gain are not among them. Such exploitation smacks uncomfortably of 1936.
Let the flames burn pure.