The day is August 12, 2012. The realisation of £20 million is spent, 80,000 people filter through the streets of Stratford, 750 million viewers change channels and the ultimate celebration of sport simmers down to a silence.
At the hands of Damien Hirst, the curtains were drawn on the 2012 Olympics as fans bid goodbye to the thrashing of spikes on track, taming of the seas and rivers and the 27 other sports that culminated in London. The British capital hadn’t welcomed the summer games since rationing was still in issue yet people from every borough, community and street corner were captivated under the banner of ‘Inspire a Generation.’
It well and truly brought sport to the city. Images of Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill atop the podium, Sir Mo Farah clad in the Union Flag and Usain Bolt mopping up gold medals had sport participation shooting through the roof and inspiration bubbling away.
From the literal transformation of a brownfield site, locked in Japanese knotweed and electrical pylons, to the sustainable expanse of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – the games were a breeding ground for rejuvenation. Facilities such as the Copper Box Arena still nurse the rise of boxing stars such as Daniel Dubois and the London Aquatics Centre has school children swimming through the strokes of Rebecca Adlington and Michael Phelps.
And although the Olympic games have always embodied the marriage of sport and urban life, it was perhaps no more apparent than in 2012. It raises the discussion as to sports and recreation’s place in a world increasingly punctuated by the city environment and nine-to-five lifestyle.