Festival of the Flame: From Desperation to Inspiration…

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A strange journey into the city centre today: a distinct lack of Games Makers, Ambassadors and signage depicting venues for London 2012. The Metro and Evening Standard have their celebratory headlines and stories, while online there is now much talk of ‘Post O/Paralympics Blues’ and the need to ensure a lasting legacy.
I consider myself extremely fortunate in that I managed to attend certain events over the past few days:
  • Sitting Volleyball at Excel;
  • The T54 Wheelchair Marathon;
  • The final session for athletics at the Olympic Stadium, where Oscar Pistorius won the final gold medal of the Games;
  • The Closing Ceremony featuring Coldplay et al;
  • The Athletes Farewell Parade.
All events were stunning; the organisers, competitors and audiences created many memories that will be forever treasured.
Now we need to build on the successes and achievements of this summer’s sporting calendar and move forward. At the Closing Ceremony, ‘The Festival of the Flame’, Carol Barwick made reference to the riots of 2011 via FaceBook: ‘Last year we had flames of desperation and fear; this year we have flames of aspiration, motivation and potential. What turnaround…’
This sentiment was reinforced during Lord Coe’s short but poignant closing speech whereby he commented on the doctor he had met and their conversation about closure, albeit related to a different situation. I have always considered myself more of a Steve Ovett man, but I have been impressed by Lord Coe over the past year. His thanks to the Games Makers brought about a standing ovation that could have ran and ran. He stated:
“In this country we will never think of sport the same way and we will never think of disability the same way,” he said. “The Paralympians have lifted the cloud of limitation…we will never think of sport…or disability…in the same way.”
For a great review of the Closing Ceremony, read the words of David Batty at www.guardian.co.uk
As to legacy, I am looking forward to working with Evolve SI and their perception-changing initiative with the likes of Dave Wolverson and Brett Wainwright.
On the subject of changing perceptions, Channel 4’s coverage was incredible, as was  ‘The Last Leg’, introduced by Adam Hills. I am sure there were many moments when the viewers were completely bemused. Alex Brooker‘s Rocks, Paper, Scissors, Stone Challenge to Freddie Flintoff was one highlight among many. Seek it out on You Tube…
To EVERYONE involved with the London 2012 O/Paralympics…a Thousand Thanks. You have helped shift the mindsets of many, myself included, and made me feel very humble indeed.

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