Withdrawal symptoms seem almost inevitable. For sports nuts across the nation, and indeed the world, the prospect of life without constant Olympic treats to gorge on must be an unthinkable prospect right now. But those Brits already in mourning for London 2012 can comfort themselves with the knowledge that it finished in style.
With just one day of sport remaining, Team GB seemed intent on continuing with the medal hunt that had proved successful. Great Britain smashed their way to the top of the boxing medal table with yet more medals in the ring, courtesy of welterweight, Fred Evans, and towering super heavyweight, Anthony Joshua. Evans, who had already beaten world number one, Taras Shelestyuk, on his path to the final, lined up first against Kazakhstan’s Serik Sapiyev. The 21 year old couldn’t get the better of his opponent and had to settle for silver, but made himself the most successful Welsh Olympic boxer ever in the process.
Super heavyweight fighter, Anthony Joshua, was up next – all 14 stone of him. The Finchley boxer’s rise to Olympic finalist has been nothing short of meteoric, considering that he first ducked into the ring just four years ago. His opponent, by contrast, was Italy’s Robert Cammarelle, bronze medallist in Athens and Beijing Olympic Champion.
…the mellifluous tones of Emeli Sandé drifting out over the audience…
Their bout was, inevitably, among the most ferocious of the Games. Joshua trailed by three points going into the final round, but fought back to make it 18 points apiece at the bell. Uncertainty reigned, as the British boxer was crowned the champion on countback, where the judges look at the detail of their marks to assess the winner, only to have his victory threatened by an Italian appeal. After a tense interlude, the judges confirmed Joshua’s victory, earning Britain their 29th gold medal of the games.
There was one final chance for a medal hurrah in the women’s Modern Pentathlon, with world champion, Mhairi Spence, and world bronze medallist, Samantha Murray, competing for GB. Despite Spence’s impressive record, it was Murray who pulled off the performance of her life and secured the silver medal in the final sporting moments of the games.
With the medals won and Britain firmly and proudly lodged in third place on the medal table, just the Closing Ceremony remained to bring the curtain down on London 2012. It began sedately, the mellifluous tones of Emeli Sandé drifting out over the audience to start proceedings. What ensued was an unashamed tapestry of British music, as young stars and established musical greats popped up in inexplicable order to add their bit to London 2012’s final showdown.
Any hopes of an Oasis reunion for the occasion were dashed…
Given the youth of most of the Olympic athletes, the appearance of some of our youngest and most high profile stars was a wise call. Baby faced boy band, One Direction, made an appearance on stage, while Jessie J, Taio Cruz and Tinie Tempah zoomed into the stadium in papered-up cabs to perform some of their most recent chart stormers. Ed Sheeran offered up his own contribution in the form of a Pink Floyd tribute.
Chart heavyweights also popped up to do their bit. Annie Lennox swept into the stadium on the gothic skeleton of a ship, George Michael belted out Freedom with glorious abandon, and Brian May beamed his way through a duet with Jessie J. Even John Lennon made a posthumous appearance when the image of him singing Imagine was played out, with Lennon’s face projected throughout. Any hopes of an Oasis reunion for the occasion were dashed, however, when Liam Gallagher appeared on stage without his brother.
It wasn’t without its eccentricities. Timothy Spall hurled forth Shakespeare in the character of Winston Churchill, Russell Brand did his own karaoke Beatles performance and there was even a brief appearance from Batman and Robin in the iconic Only Fools and Horses van. But it was the arrival of British pop’s most iconic group that really attracted attention. The Spice Girls, nineties sensation and Girl Power icons, put aside personal differences and united for one historic appearance, hurling out Wannabe and Spice Up Your Life with admirable vigour.
…taking photos of the spectacle and tweeting themselves senseless…
Such moments of nostalgia may have pleased the punters, but it was the appearance of more than 10,000 athletes which the ceremony really centred around. The appearance of the real stars of the games was uncharacteristically refreshingly and informal, as they filtered out higgledy-piggledy through the crowds of spectators. Waving at the cameras, taking photos of the spectacle and tweeting themselves senseless, they found themselves right in the action as Rio de Janeiro’s contingent performed an explosively colourful routine to start the run-up to 2016.
And so it fell to Take That to bring proceedings to an emphatic close. They pulled it off with characteristic authority, their anthemic Rule The World accompanied by a tremendous riot of fireworks crowning the sky above the stadium. An unforgettable image to round off an unforgettable Games. The bangs may have faded, but the Olympic legacy certainly won’t.