It’s now over two weeks since London 2012 officially came to a close. Over two weeks since the Paralympics closing ceremony, and two weeks to the day since the celebratory athletes parade through central London, ending with the performance outside Buckingham Palace, and Boris Johnson’s unforgettable speech.
So, two weeks on, has it already faded from our memories? Has the feel-good factor long since departed? Have you already forgotten the names and faces of the summer heroes and heroines below?
What will be the real legacy of London 2012? There are some things that always seemed unlikely. Strangers talking to each other on the tube was never as widespread as the media liked to report it, and seems to have already died down as a phenomena.
And another unforeseen potential legacy, the outstanding popularity of Mayor Boris throughout the Games, has led to more calls for him to become the next Conservative leader, and possible Prime Minister. Again, this still seems a little far-fetched to me. The public are more than happy having Boris as the man responsible for making the buses run on time across the capital, but do they really want him to be negotiating with the EU, or making decisions on sending troops going to war?
What are the real contenders for the London 2012 legacy? Here’s my top five:
- Attitudes to disability: This has been a real unforeseen one for many people. The Paralympics may have not only inspired a new generation of potential Paralympian athletes, but also inspired the whole country to look at disability differently. Will there be less discrimination, against both physical and mental disability, as a result? The Paralympics was certainly a remarkable 11 days in this respect, but London still has a long way to go. To take just one example, although all new tube stations are now built with step-free disabled access, there are still no serious plans to upgrade all the existing stations, and give wheelchair users the freedom of travel that tube access brings.
- Increased sport participation: During the summer, record numbers have been inspired to start swimming, rowing, running, cycling etc, in imitation of their new heroes. Increased sports participation from school children was always one of the biggest Legacy promises. If the Games truly does inspire us all to get more healthy, it will have a fantastic legacy.
- Regeneration of East London: The Westfield shopping centre and some outstanding sports venues are already in place. But will the conversion of the Olympic park to apartments and an IT centre bring benefit to the poorest of east London?
- Volunteering: Another surprise one here. The immense popularity of the 70,000 Games Makers may cause us all to look at volunteering in a different light. Will we see more volunteers contributing more free hours of community service across the country as a result?
- Pride in Britain: For a nation often described as being in “gentle decline” ever since the end of World War II, has the Games made us see ourselves differently? The great successes of Team GB and Paralympics GB, the smooth running of everything in general, and the confidence and creativity of Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony in particular, seems to have restored huge doses of pride in our nation. Despite our love for self-deprecating humour, will Seb Coe have made “Made in Britain” something again to be cherished?
What do you think will be the long term legacy of the Games on London?
Mark Williamson is a founding director of One Rock International, a training organisation resourcing missionary leaders across the globe. He’s also passionate about praying for London, getting into deep conversations, and going for long walks with his wife Joanna.