Tag Archives: stratford

Patrick Collins: England"s miracle workers have everyone believing again

England's sensational miracle workers have everyone believing again

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UPDATED:

22:50 GMT, 8 December 2012


In control: Alastair Cook's team look set to take a 2-1 lead

In control: Alastair Cook's team look set to take a 2-1 lead

The sporting year of 2012 is the gift that just keeps giving. And we watch in grateful wonder as the miracles descend in delicious profusion.

Never was there such a year, never such an outpouring of glory. From the Super Olympic Saturdays in Stratford to the golden days on lake and velodrome.

From the evening in Munich when European football turned Chelsea blue to the Sunday afternoon at Medinah when the Ryder Cup yielded to Europe's irresistible charge, to the epic at the Etihad when the title was won with the last kick of the season.

Just one week ago, there was the
chill afternoon at Twickenham when the All Blacks were thrashed and we
told ourselves that 2012 had eked out its last, improbable bonus. And
then came Kolkata.

To appreciate how far England's
cricketers have travelled, it is necessary to remember where they
started. In late March, Andrew Strauss sat in a bleak back room in Galle
and attempted to rationalise England's fourth consecutive Test match
defeat.

Whitewashed 3–0 by Pakistan in the
United Arab Emirates, then bemused by Sri Lanka's spinner Rangana
Herath, there was a growing conviction that England's hapless inability
to play spin rendered them hopelessly uncompetitive in sub-continental
conditions.

Spin king: Graeme Swann had a good session after lunch

Spin king: Graeme Swann had a good session after lunch

They chipped out a 1–1 draw in the Sri Lanka series, but come the first Test of this India tour and the roof fell in.

To lose by nine wickets in Ahmedabad was one thing, but to lose in such a clueless, calamitous fashion was quite another.

The statistics read like a long and
darkly threatening letter: India had not lost a Test series at home
since Australia beat them in 2004-05; England had not won a series in
India since David Gower's team came from behind in 1984-85; England had
won only 11 Test matches in India since 1933; India had lost only six
home Tests in a decade.

Had you been looking for a word to describe England's prospects, then 'unpromising' was probably the kindest.

It was at Mumbai that the transformation came to pass. Suddenly, almost irrationally, England began to believe in themselves.

Monty Panesar, happily restored, came
through in a clatter of wickets, Kevin Pietersen played one of
history's finest Test innings and Alastair Cook batted like a prince.

Victory was wholly unexpected and Kolkata was vigorously anticipated. It did not disappoint.

Led once again by Cook in his most
majestic form, England raised their game to another level and now the
questions were being asked of India. What shall we do with MS Dhoni

How long can Duncan Fletcher continue to coach a patently unresponsive team

And, most dramatically, who tells
Sachin Tendulkar that the golden years have run their course None of
which will concern England, whose restoration to form and confidence has
been quite sensational.

In any other year we might have been
speaking in almost disbelieving terms. In this gloriously bewildering
year of 2012, it ranks as just another miracle.

We are unable to carry live pictures from the third Test in Kolkata due to a dispute between the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and international news organisations.

The BCCI has refused access to Test venues to established picture agencies Getty Images and Action Images and other Indian photographic agencies.

MailOnline consider this action to be a strike against press freedom and supports the action to boycott BCCI imagery.

Barry Hearn ready to throw in the towel over objection to West Ham"s Olympic Stadium move: Charles Sale

Hearn is ready to throw in the towel over West Ham's Olympic Stadium move

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UPDATED:

00:06 GMT, 6 December 2012

Leyton Orient chairman Barry Hearn,
with his threats of multiple lawsuits, has proved to be the biggest
obstacle in West Ham’s move to the Olympic Stadium.

And the only fully transparent part of
yesterday’s fudged London Legacy Development Corporation decision to
make West Ham the first-ranked bidders was that Orient’s application to
groundshare had been rejected.

However, Hearn, who is always so quick
on the trigger with legal action, will find it difficult this time to
bring in the lawyers over Orient’s snub and is expected to throw in the
towel. A judicial review can only examine the process rather than the
outcome and Hearn has said that the second tender was at least managed
efficiently.

Game over: Barry Hearn is set to end his objection to West Ham's move to the Olympic Stadium

Game over: Barry Hearn is set to end his objection to West Ham's move to the Olympic Stadium

His appeal to the Premier League — to
rule on whether West Ham would break their rules by moving into Orient’s
catchment area — is on hold. But the League have already given
permission for the Hammers’ move. Upton Park and the Stratford venue are
both in the borough of Newham, while Leyton Orient’s ground is in
Waltham Forest.

Hearn, who is in Mauritius on holiday,
said: ‘This is not the best news I have had in my life, but I will not
panic. There are still questions to be asked about the validity of West
Ham moving close to us, which will put a great strain on our survival.

‘We will not be rushed. I am looking
forward to my meeting with the Olympic people next week. I cannot
understand what harm there would be with a groundshare.’

The LLDC statement dismissed Orient’s bid as not being commercially viable.

More from Charles Sale…

Charles Sale: Channel 4 races to unload World Athletics Championships on the BBC
30/11/12

Charles Sale: Rivals Warren and Hearn take fight over Bellew to the High Court
29/11/12

Charles Sale: Iconic Ibrox to become Sports Direct Arena Newcastle owner Ashley wants second major stadium controversially renamed
28/11/12

Charles Sale: Pearce blamed for losing flying Chelsea winger Moses to Nigeria
27/11/12

We were wrong! But Chelsea still won't say sorry to Clattenburg over Mikel
27/11/12

Charles Sale: Jordan pondered Portsmouth deal but bowed to fan power
26/11/12

Charles Sale: Wimbledon set to avoid any MK Dons exposure in FA Cup clash
23/11/12

Charles Sale: Call this reintegration, KP After rejoining England, flash star leaves team-mates behind to upgrade at five-star hotel in India
22/11/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Warburton rejects West Brom

Mark Warburton, Brentford’s sporting
director and co-founder of the European Under 19 NextGen Series, has
surprisingly turned down the chance to succeed the FA-bound Dan Ashworth
as technical director at West Bromwich Albion. Warburton, who was
persuaded to stay at Griffin Park by the club’s major benefactor Matthew
Benham, said: ‘I am flattered to have even been considered for such a
position. But as it stands I have unfinished business at Brentford and
the NextGen Series is in full swing.’

Jevans' overhaul continues

The most surprising aspect of England Rugby 2015’s brutal regime change under new chief executive Debbie Jevans has been to dispense with the services of chief operating officer Ross Young, despite him having more knowledge than anyone of how a World Cup operates after delivering successive tournaments since 2003.

Tough regime: Debbie Jevans has shaken things up at the RFU

Tough regime: Debbie Jevans has shaken things up at the RFU

The International Rugby Board were informed of his sacking and that of media and marketing chief Jon Duckworth but did not interfere. The cost of the pay-offs, plus the severance payment to former CEO Paul Vaughan, will come out of the ER 2015 budget — as will the price of hiring plenty more LOCOG personnel to follow Jevans and new rugby operations director Neil Snowball from Stratford to Twickenham.

New role for Townsend

Chris Townsend, the London 2012 commercial director who famously described himself as the Sir Alex Ferguson of LOCOG, is taking his self-acclaimed talents to Kent. Townsend will be working to raise 2billion for the proposed Paramount Pictures theme park on the Swanscombe peninsula close to Ebbsfleet International railway station.

Mancini’s flight of fancy

Manchester City’s decision to stay in Dortmund after their Champions League defeat on Tuesday, to train there yesterday before flying home in the afternoon, has a lot to do with another of manager Roberto Mancini’s many quirks. He has a dislike of late-night flights — along with regarding purple as his unlucky colour and holding team meetings at uneven times of day.

BOA race hotting up

The election for the athletes’ representative on the British Olympic Association board is going to be a lot more competitive than the chairmanship vote, which saw Lord Coe anointed unopposed. Five Olympians, including three rowers, will be giving presentations to the athletes’ commission: current board member Sarah Winckless, fellow rowers Alex Partridge and Zac Purchase as well as middle-distance runner Andrew Baddeley and hockey’s Kate Walsh. Winckless is favourite.

Jacques Rogge says Olympics could return to London within 20 years

IOC president Rogge says Olympics could return to London… within the next 20 years!

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UPDATED:

10:51 GMT, 14 October 2012

The president of the International Olympic Committee says he would have no problem with London hosting the Games again within the next 20 years.

This summer's Games in the capital were a resounding success and Jacques Rogge believes there would be no objection to the city doing so again soon.

Asked if London could stage the Olympics again within 20 years, he told Radio 5 Live's Sportsweek programme: 'I think definitely that would be a possibility. Whether there is a will to do that is another matter, but definitely yes, that would be possible.

Hungry for more: IOC president Jacques Rogge believes there would be little opposition to London hosting another Olympic Games within 20 years

Hungry for more: IOC president Jacques Rogge believes there would be little opposition to London hosting another Olympic Games within 20 years

'The IOC would welcome always good bids, irrespective of the place they originate from.

'There will always be a competition between various candidate cities. This is a contest and definitely it remains to be seen whether London would show an interest to bid again and if that is the case London will have to face other cities.

'I would welcome good bids emanating from as many countries as possible and this includes the United Kingdom.'

Rogge also backed the British authorities to make a success of the Olympic Stadium, the future of which is still to be decided.

Rogge said: 'My view is that what we really need is that it can be used by communities and not be left as a white elephant and I'm quite sure that my British friends will find a solution for sustainable legacy.'

Back you come: Rogge (centre right) said that as long as the track is well maintained, the Olympic Park would be a perfect repeat venue

Back you come: Rogge (centre right) said that as long as the track is well maintained, the Olympic Park would be a perfect repeat venue

Asked if he would be happy for West Ham to move into the Stratford stadium, he said: 'As long as the track can be kept, that is the most important thing in terms of legacy for the athletics, But if a football team would come in the stadium, this would guarantee sustainable development.'

Rogge also dismissed any concerns that the 2014 World Cup in Brazil could affect preparations for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

'On the contrary, I think the FIFA World Cup will be a support for the Olympic Games.

'They will be able to test readiness. the volunteers that are working for the FIFA World Cup will also work for the Olympic Games so definitely it will benefit from the FIFA World Cup.'

Golf will feature in the Olympics for the first time in Rio and Rogge believes it will be one of the most popular sports at the Games.

He added: 'I think it is really very important for the Games to have the participation of Tiger Woods. We have the best athletes in the world, we have Usain Bolt and we need to have Tiger Woods too.

'He could definitely consider the Games as another major.'

More of the same: Usain Bolt (centre) and Co ensured that the 2012 Games were a resounding success in the capital

More of the same: Usain Bolt (centre) and Co ensured that the 2012 Games were a resounding success in the capital

Sir Geoff Hurst: West Ham must leave Upton Park

Hurst: I'm 1,000 per cent behind West Ham leaving Upton Park

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UPDATED:

10:13 GMT, 9 September 2012

Sir Geoff Hurst is '1,000 per cent' in favour of West Ham leaving Upton Park and moving to the Olympic Stadium as the club look to establish themselves as a leading Premier League side.

The Hammers this summer lodged a bid to lease the stadium in Stratford for 99 years after their original bid to move to the London 2012 venue collapsed last year following a number of complaints.

If the newly-promoted Premier League outfit, who are one of four bidders under consideration, were to move it would mean leaving their Upton Park home after more than 100 years.

Moving house: West Ham are poised to end their association with Upton Park

Moving house: West Ham are poised to end their association with Upton Park

However, former England striker Hurst, who spent the majority of his playing career at West Ham, is convinced it would be the right decision.

'Absolutely, (I'm) 1,000 per cent in favour, nobody's got a greater feeling about West Ham United at Upton Park than I have. I've rolled the pitch, I've painted the stands there and I have great attachments to the club, but we have to move on,' Hurst, 70, told BBC Radio 5 Live's Sportsweek programme.

'We want to move on, we want to be in a bigger stadium with more access, we want to be a top Premiership club.

'With the support we get, which is fantastic, we should be mid-table and above in the Premier League, we don't want to be yo-yoing up and down, as we've been doing.

'And I strongly feel, and I hope I can convince all the West Ham fans that I meet, that is where we've got to go.

'It's still in our manor, to use an old east London expression, it's up the road, it's better access, its an absolutely magnificent stadium.'

The World Cup winner added: 'I'm sure in the long term it is far far more beneficial for the club and I think the future of the club should be at the Olympic park. 'I just feel so strongly that's where we've got to go.'

Edge of the Box: Review of weekend"s football TV coverage

Football's back and as bonkers as ever… and that's just the TV coverage

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UPDATED:

10:12 GMT, 20 August 2012

With the world still raving about the superb summer love provided in Stratford and beyond this month, the big question was very quickly asked: would the Premier League be able to capture the spirit with which the Olympic Games simply oozed

Which is a bit like asking if Nick Skelton would have won gold jumping a clear round with his horse Big Star on his back. Although there are clearly some similarities, it is also obvious that they are not entirely the same thing.

This point has been underlined perfectly by the trailer Sky Sports have been showing to get us in the mood for the new season. It features heaving waves of fans captured at that intense, suspended moment of anxious anticipation before the perfect storm of excitement and emotion as the ball hits the back of the net.

Good to be back: Fans were back in force at the weekend

Good to be back: Fans were back in force at the weekend

More from Mark Webster…

Edge of the Box: Hats off to the BBC for their Olympic coverage
13/08/12

Edge of the Box: The fastest Olympic race in history helps the BBC shine once again
06/08/12

Edge of the Box: BBC slow out of the blocks after Boyle's brilliant extravaganza
30/07/12

Edge of the Box: French fancy captures British hearts on Le Tour with Wiggo and Co
23/07/12

Edge of the Box: Farah on fire as he became the first Cube winner
15/07/12

Edge of the Box: Barker hits the target in more ways than one
09/07/12

Edge of the Box: Too much of Lawro as Martinez stars for ITV at Euro 2012
02/07/12

Edge of the Box: Well that was worth the trip! The BBC boys arrive at the Euros… and England bow out
25/06/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

OK, football isn’t perfect – never was, never will be – but as James Tiberius Kirk emoted dramatically in the Star Trek film The Final Frontier ‘I need my pain… my pain makes me who I am’. And I for one am not going to argue with the captain of the Starship Enterprise.

So, the Premier League returned to our tellies this weekend with barely an inch to spare for much else and with it plenty of reminders that this is a game you’ve just got to love.

Soccer Saturday decided to open the season by reminding us how the old one finished – a heady montage mixing up those last thrilling minutes on the pitch when the title was won and lost with the sheer hysteria going on behind the desk in the Sky Sports studio.

From there on it was business as usual with Matt le Tissier, ever the maverick, defying convention and leaving that shirt collar completely tie free.

Gary Lineker, too, was keeping it casual having been booted and suited for most of August up in that rather soulless studio he was given to work from high above the Olympic Park.

Fantasy football 2012

Gary told us it had been a ‘long summer with so little happening’, his peepers twinkling irony like Morse code, ‘thankfully Match Of The Day is back’, and with it not the two new faces we had been told about – old heads Harry Redknapp and Mick McCarthy had been recruited for a gaffer’s eye view – but two rather familiar ones: that of a dour Scottish former centre-half and a shiny-headed old Geordie centre forward.

Nevertheless, it was a good one for Alan Hansen to be in the studio for as he took the opportunity to go in with both feet on the new management at his old team after their 3-0 hammering at the Hawthorns.

‘I spent a career playing it from the back… but it’s percentages’, bridled Hansen before adding ‘Skrtel doesn’t know what he’s doing’. I suspect Brendan Rodgers will get an easier ride when fellow members of the manager’s union are in the pundits chairs.

We also got the full benefit of the rather brilliant home TV coverage football has developed over the decades, as opposed to the often lame images provided by the world feed throughout the Games.

As a result of a prying eye cast unblinkingly towards the bench, we were privy to the site of Alan Pardew giving an official a shove as if he was saving him from being run over by an oncoming No 47 bus.

After the game, at the post-match interview, Pardew looked somewhat more humbled than usual, and laughed nervously as he pointed out he’d told his players before the game about how it had been ‘a great Olympics and setting an example and there I was pushing over a linesman. Ridiculous’.

Yes, Alan, a little bit ridiculous. But a little bit of ridiculous along with a touch of nasty, some sad, lots of wonderful and tons and tons of brilliant is what keeps us coming back for more. And I’ve barely touched the sides of just how that box in the corner of the room eats it up!

Sam Allardyce says West Ham need Olympic Stadium move to be as big as Manchester United or Arsenal

West Ham could be as big as Man United or Arsenal! Allardyce urges Olympic Stadium move

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UPDATED:

18:21 GMT, 16 August 2012

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce believes a move to the Olympic Stadium could help them grow to the size of Manchester United and Arsenal.

The Hammers are vying to take over the Stratford venue that was built to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Its future has long been the subject of debate, with West Ham initially denied tenancy last October following a legal dispute involving Tottenham and Leyton Orient.

Home Sam Allardyce wants West Ham to play in the Olympic stadium

Home Sam Allardyce wants West Ham to play in the Olympic stadium

Allardyce hopes West Ham will takeover the stadium after London 2012 and believes it could take the club to a new level.

'When you see the atmosphere created in that arena then I think you would dream of walking out there, like you did at Wembley,' Allardyce said.

'Every footballer's dream is to walk out at Wembley and I think when you've got a venue of that size [it would be the same].

'All the players look forward to playing at Old Trafford and at the Emirates.

Plans: Allardyce wants a big future for the Hammers

Plans: Allardyce wants a big future for the Hammers

'Not quite so much these days at Liverpool or Everton because they're old stadiums now.

'But Manchester United is now almost completely redeveloped and has 75,000, while the Emirates is one hell of a place when it is full.

'We could be that size in a brand new stadium, with that atmosphere.

'It would be awesome to walk a team out on that pitch and say “this is West Ham's new home and the creation of what could possibly be a new modern history hopefully”.'

LONDON OLYMPICS 2012: Nick Metcalfe"s review of the Games

A glorious British success story… make no mistake, the London Olympic Games were a true delight

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UPDATED:

22:06 GMT, 13 August 2012

Four years ago, I sat in a backstreet cafe behind Tiananmen Square and attempted to sum up in a few words a gargantuan show that had left the watching world breathless.

All I could come up with at first was the following five words: I’m so glad it’s over.

Four years on, I’m attempting once again to sum up the greatest show sport will ever know. And do you know what I’ve come to the same conclusion. Thank goodness it has come to an end.

I know that I won't win any awards for originality, and please don’t get me wrong, I love the Olympic Games with a passion that borders on a fixation. It’s just that I feel sated now, fully satisfied. I’ve seen enough, thank you very much, until the next time this scarcely believable roadshow rolls into our lives.

Farewell: The Olympic Games ended in spectacular fashion in Stratford

Farewell: The Olympic Games ended in spectacular fashion in Stratford

How to compare Olympics of past and present In a way, the answer is simple. Don’t. Not to any great extent anyway. Each one is just different, and perhaps none more so than the last two summer shows.

The 2008 production in Beijing was undeniably spectacular, but the Games was used by the Chinese government as an enormous propaganda exercise, a coming out party to beat all others. This was the subtext behind the grandeur of that Olympics: Nothing can stop China being the world's greatest superpower, and it will happen soon.

This Olympics in London, right here on our own doorstep, has been something else. Rather British in fact. Still a great spectacle, but laced with an eccentric touch, and like us strangely vulnerable.

Some things will never change at the Games, namely the brilliance of the sport. It's always wonderful, how could it not be World records, thrilling victories, dramatic comebacks.

We had Usain Bolt cementing his legendary status on the track, Michael Phelps against Ryan Lochte in the pool, Sir Chris Hoy in the velodrome. There was poster girl Jessica Ennis making her dreams come true, Mo Farah becoming one of Britain’s greatest track and field stars of all time, and all that seemingly endless British success in rowing and cycling.

But you know all this, you’ve spent the last couple of weeks glued to the sofa, watching the extraordinary theatre unfold before your eyes.

Golden moment: Mo Farah crosses the line to win the 5,000m and complete a glorious double

Golden moment: Mo Farah crosses the line to win the 5,000m and complete a glorious double

What about the venues The Olympic Stadium was simply stunning. I have to confess that I thought it looked like an identikit stadium from pictures on television before the Games, but it proved to be a splendid arena. It had a noise all of its own, and it was cozy too, a fitting and homespun counterbalance to Beijing’s staggering Birds Nest.

Away from the stadium, there was
something distinctive and delightful about both the Aquatics Centre and Velodrome. The handball arena, The Copper Box, was so endearing, it was
nicknamed the 'Box That Rocks'. The ExCel Arena in London's Docklands,
which is more typically used for trade fairs and the like, rocked to
raucous atmospheres at the boxing and taekwondo.

If we're talking crowds, the sight of the whole Games for me was seeing the day sessions of the athletics played out to full houses. It’s hard to express in words how extraordinary this is. Even at very successful Games of the past, like Barcelona or Sydney, those sessions were played out to one man and his dog. Attending the heats at past Games has been seen as something of a booby prize. Not here, not when every ticket was so prized.

What a sight: A packed Olympic Stadium on the opening morning of track and field competition

What a sight: A packed Olympic Stadium on the opening morning of track and field competition

Compared to Beijing, the noise levels were ear splitting. I was at the Laoshan Velodrome at the 2008 Games, and it was comparatively very quiet there. Likewise at the Birds Nest. The British passion for sport simply cannot be denied.

The volunteers were smashing, but if I'm honest I find that they nearly always are. In fact, this reminds me, we often tend to get carried away at the end of a Games with how excellent the event has been.

Yes, this has been a smashing Olympics, make no mistake about that. Yes, the crowds have been superb, the buzz on the streets joyful. Yes, strangers have been speaking to each other on public transport, and that has been lovely.

But I was saying all this two years ago, after leaving Vancouver's Olympic Winter Games. That was a mad party too. Amid the pride of putting on such a grand show, we shouldn’t get carried away with ourselves in the rush to call this Olympics 'the best ever' or bestow it with any other unnecessary grand titles. It has been a particularly good episode of an extraordinary long-running show, granted. But future productions will be sparkling, too. Next stop Sochi, then Rio, and so on.

Legends: Usain Bolt (above) won another Olympic sprint double, while Michael Phelps (below) became the most successful Olympian of all time

Legends: Usain Bolt (above) won another Olympic sprint double, while Michael Phelps (below) became the most successful Olympian of all time

Michael Phelps

The natural British feel of the whole affair has certainly been a breath of fresh air after the formalities of Beijing. It really did feel rigid at times in the Chinese capital. However much you tried, you could never properly escape from reminders of the country’s appalling human rights record, and the questionable morality of the world’s greatest sporting event being held in that country.

Don't get me wrong, this is not the land of milk and honey, and only sweet things, but there has been something more wholesome about the summer of 2012, in comparison with 2008. Right from that glorious opening ceremony, with its clip from Kes and tribute to the NHS, it was very clear this would be an event with its own special flavour.

Personally, I watched the road cycling races pass through the village in which I grew up. I also watched the time trialists pedal furiously down the leafy Weston Green Road behind Esher train station in Surrey. The Suburban Games, if you will.

It's often the events you've seen in person that stick with you the longest. The joy of Chinese youngster Zhang Jike as he won the men's singles table tennis title, jumping over the hoardings and kissing the podium in sheer ecstasy. Being in a crowd of more than 70,000 at Wembley for a match involving Britain's women's football team. Cuba's Felix Sanchez weeping as he received his gold medal at the Olympic Stadium after winning the men's 400m hurdles. Shouting and cheering Anthony Joshua to his boxing gold medal. Wonderful deposits in the memory banks, all of them.

Pure joy: Zhang Jike celebrates after winning the men's table tennis singles title

Pure joy: Zhang Jike celebrates after winning the men's table tennis singles title

Fan-tastic: More than 70,000 were at Wembley Stadium to see Britain's women's football team take on Brazil

Fan-tastic: More than 70,000 were at Wembley Stadium to see Britain's women's football team take on Brazil

It felt like you were in an Olympic city where ever you went in London. It might sound simple, but I think the special signs plastered all over town helped. The Games was truly omnipresent.

I recall that the venues were first class at the 2004 Games in Athens, but over dinner and drinks in historic parts of town like Monastiraki, you could have been forgiven for forgetting the Olympics was taking place. There were no big screens, no Olympic paraphernalia. Heavens, there were hardly any souvenir shops. I read somewhere that London organisers were hoping to raise 70 million from the sale of memorabilia. Mind-boggling numbers, I know.

Spending time in Beijing's Forbidden City, or climbing The Great Wall of China, rank among the most unforgettable experiences of my travelling life, but there was often no discernible link to the Games in the summer of 2008. It often seemed like it was taking place somewhere else, even though I was in an Olympic city.

Felix Sanchez

Anthony Joshua

Emotion: Felix Sanchez (left) after winning gold (left) and Anthony Joshua during the British anthem (right)

I obviously can't go without a word about the transport. Let's be frank, it worked. The transport nearly always does work well enough at the Games, to be fair, but the efficient and smooth performance of London’s various transport systems did come as something of a relief. Obviously, it helped that so many locals were frightened away by those semi-apocalyptic messages from the Mayor before the Games.

So, what about that all-important legacy Has a generation really been inspired It must surely have been amazing to watch this Games through young British eyes.

What about the future of the venues It certainly seems like there have been more solid plans made for the future, more so than in Barcelona or Athens, where the places that once rocked to Olympic drama now lie empty, unused and unloved. I will certainly be one of those heading over to the Aquatics Centre to have a swim when it opens to the public in 2014.

We're also assured that the Olympic Village will be turned into affordable homes. Let's hope they really do go to those that need them.

For now, let all worries about that be cast to one side as we sink into our sofas and reflect on 17 days of outstanding sport, and great emotion.

I craned my neck at the end of a crowded hutong to watch fireworks over Tiananmen Square at the end of the Beijing Games. This time round, I could see the closing ceremony fireworks through the window of my East End flat. Very different places, but the same special show, truly the greatest event sport will ever know.

What to do next, without those morning rowing heats and evening athletics Some of you will be switching on ITV for the first time in weeks. Some of you may feel rather punch drunk, maybe even a little low. A collective hangover is taking hold.

Would you like a little piece of friendly advice Please, allow me. Buy a ticket for the Paralympic Games. Let's help to make that a magnificent success too.

There's always a next time: A sign at Stratford railway station reminds us of the 2016 hosts

There's always a next time: A sign at Stratford railway station reminds us of the 2016 hosts

London 2012 Olympics: Fans gather at closing ceremony

Out with a bang! London gathers for mammoth Games send off as thousands pack out Olympic Park for closing ceremony

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UPDATED:

20:03 GMT, 12 August 2012

After London welcomed all 204 of the competing nations to the capital for what was undoubtedly one of the greatest Olympic Games in history, athletes, fans and celebrities assembled at the closing ceremony.

If the spectacular official opening ceremony of the Games – organised by Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle – the close to the Games promises to be a show and a half.

London hosted an Olympics which saw Team GB win an unbelievable 29 gold medals, dwarfing the 19 won four years prior in Beijing, and those lucky enough to have tickets have filled the Olympic Park in Stratford to bid their farewell.

To celebrate the hosting of a hugely successful Olympiad, fans will be treated to a feast for the eyes and ears, amongst the spectacles are internationally renowned girl band the Spice Girls.

Fond farewell: Thousands gathered at the Olympic Park in Stratford for the closing ceremony

Fond farewell: Thousands gathered at the Olympic Park in Stratford for the closing ceremony

Fans got in the mood ahead of the ceremony

Fans got in the mood ahead of the ceremony

The Olympic flame was still burning as the Spice Girls rehearsed their routine

The Olympic flame was still burning as the Spice Girls rehearsed their routine

Burning bright: The Olympic flame was still lit as the Spice Girls rehearsed their routine

Transformed: The stadium looked completely different to when athletes competed on it throughout the Games

Transformed: The stadium looked completely different to when athletes competed on it throughout the Games

Transformed: The stadium looked completely different to when athletes competed on it throughout the Games

Transformed: The stadium looked completely different to when athletes competed on it throughout the Games

The Olympic rings were on display above the well lit arena

The Olympic rings were on display above the well lit arena

London Olympics 2012: Now we"ll see if Usain Bolt can do it

Now we'll see if we've been hoodwinked as sprint final beckons

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 4 August 2012

If Usain Bolt has something sensational to bring to these London Olympics, then he has yet to offer a clue.

Olympics 2012

A casual canter through the Stratford afternoon gave no indication of his fitness for the task of successfully defending his 100metres title.

He insists that he is ready to go to work, and his entry into the Olympic Arena was bashfully discreet; his tracksuit hood pulled over his head, as if the ploy might somehow disguise his identity.

Easy does it: Usain Bolt qualifies in first from his heat

Easy does it: Usain Bolt qualifies in first from his heat

His cover was quickly blown by the sensitive stadium announcer. 'Loosen up your larynxes!' he bawled. 'For the fastest man in history!'

Bolt rubbed his head with both hands in that distinctive way he has.

He exchanged a quick chuckle with one of the volunteers.

Then he loped down the track with unrevealing economy of effort in 10.09sec, a time which would qualify him as the ninth-quickest man in the field.

Yohan Blake, Bolt's countryman, world champion and potentially his closest rival, was equally inscrutable in returning 10.00sec.

Inscrutable: Yohan Blake qualified without trouble

Inscrutable: Yohan Blake qualified without trouble

He was never pushed, never remotely stretched, suggesting that he, too, is concealing a formidable hand.

Certainly he was in no mood to match the dramatic performance of America's Ryan Bailey, whose scintillating run of 9.88sec was the fastest first round ever achieved at any Olympic Games. Bailey seems certain to play a central role in this event, along with the other sprinting titans, Asafa Powell of Jamaica, America's Tyson Gay and his fellow American, the reinstated drugs cheat Justin Gatlin.

Speaking of drugs, Britain's Dwain Chambers qualified fourth in 10.02, his fastest of the season.

The generous crowd awarded him a reasonable ovation and the prodigal managed a brief dance of celebration.

Half-an-hour later, he discovered that his semi-final will include both Bolt and Bailey.

With only two certain to qualify, Chambers may find little reason for dancing.

The other Britons also achieved qualification, with James Dasaolu returning 10.13sec and young Adam Gemili – who was palpably delighted just to be here – doing even better in 10.11sec.

One for the future: GB's Adam Gemili was in excellent form

One for the future: GB's Adam Gemili was in excellent form

While their chances of progress may be small, the experience will be beyond price.

With the extravagant quality of the field and on a track built for sprinting, this evening has the makings of a truly memorable Olympic 100m final.

When it is done, we should have a champion to set alongside the great ones; from Harold Abrahams and Jesse Owens, through Bob Hayes and Jim Hines, on to Carl Lewis and the man from Trelawney, the joker who hid behind his hood when introduced to London.

Focussed: Usain Bolt prepares for his heat

Focussed: Usain Bolt prepares for his heat

There will be no joking before the job is done, for the task is too formidable and the field too daunting.

But Usain Bolt made his reputation by making the improbable seem almost mundane.

He will need to do something wonderful if his crown is to be preserved – but few will be surprised if the magician works his Olympic trick one more time.

Phillips Idowu is fit but nowhere to be seen – London 2012 Olympics

Where is Phillips Idowu is fit but still nowhere to be seen

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UPDATED:

22:20 GMT, 1 August 2012

Phillips Idowu is no longer injured, according to the information given to UK Athletics head coach Charles van Commenee by the British Olympic Association.

But where the triple jumper is and when he will join the British team at Stratford remain a mystery to the Dutchman, who said: 'We are talking about the invisible man.'

Snub: Idowu opted to arrange his own treatment for an injury rather than attend the Team GB training camp

Snub: Idowu opted to arrange his own treatment for an injury rather than attend the Team GB training camp

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The BOA's medical adviser has seen the records of Idowu's recent private treatment for a nerve problem in his leg and back and is satisfied no fitness test is required.

But nobody has spoken to the 33-year-old – not even his coach Aston Moore, an employee of UK Athletics.

Perplexed: Van Commenee is unsure on the whereabouts of Idowu

Perplexed: Van Commenee is unsure on the whereabouts of Idowu

Van Commenee said: 'We shall support him when we see him as we always have for 12 years. I am perplexed that in the last two weeks before the Games he chose to turn his back on us. I find it bizarre, Aston finds it bizarre.'

Idowu's competition starts on Tuesday but he must register at the Athletes' Village at least 48 hours earlier. 'There will be a room ready for him,' said Van Commenee.