IN just a few weeks, it will be the 10-year anniversary of the London Olympics.

It is easy to come out with the platitudes about how fast the time has gone, or fondly recall the charm of those two weeks in 2012.

What London 2012 showed us, however, is both the best and  the worst of the Olympic Games.

There is no doubt that those two weeks were magical. From Danny Boyle’s bizarre but enthralling opening ceremony to Super Saturday where Jess Ennis, Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford all won gold in the Olympic Stadium inside  an hour, to Usain Bolt cementing his legacy as the greatest sprinter of all time, there was no shortage of rousing moments.

I was an athlete in Team GB and being on the inside was just as thrilling as had been anticipated. The whole of the UK, and London in particular, was caught up in Olympic fever.

The slogan of those Games was “Inspire a Generation”.  We were promised they would be different from all the others which had failed to leave a legacy and had left white elephants of stadiums languishing in their wake. These Games would, we were promised, change the shape of this country forever.

Well, for all of those pledges, all of us who believed them have been well and truly proven wrong.

Ten years on, the legacy of London 2012 is negligible, and that is being generous.

There are, of course, select individuals who are now elite athletes and cite the London Games as the moment that inspired them on to greater things.

But there has been no long-lasting boost to participation levels and no significant improvements in health levels within the population. 

The months and years following those Games revealed they had run vastly over budget, and on the sporting field they turned out to have been one of the dirtiest Olympics in history when it comes to doping.

It was not quite what the organisers had in mind when we were being sold this magical vision.

The bricks and mortar legacy should, in many ways, have been the easy part. But even that has been botched.

In recent weeks, it has been revealed that UK Athletics have been offered a generous sum by West Ham to give up their right to stage events at the London Stadium.

In practical terms it is not such a crazy idea. There are world-class athletics’ stadiums elsewhere in England that can stage meets just as well.

The final decision on the athletics’ stadium is, in many ways, immaterial. It is what this debate says about the bigger picture of sport in this country.

It is easy for the promises to flow, and to be believed, when we are all caught up in the joy of watching Katherine Grainger, Chris Hoy, Andy Murray, Anthony Joshua et al winning gold medals.

It is when the dust settles, and the athletes return to relative obscurity, that it really matters.

And what the past 10 years prove is that this country, in so many cases, is not willing to put its money where its mouth is when it comes to really promoting sport.

London 2012 was an extraordinary chance to make Britain into a real sporting nation.

The past decade shows much of the opportunity was squandered.


There was one very noticeable thing Serena Williams and Andy Murray had in common last week, outwith their early exits from Wimbledon.

They are both nearing the end of their careers, and have been asked countless times when they are going to hang up their rackets for good.

It would be understandable if both decided to call it quits; both are multiple Grand Slam winners and multi-millionaires, and neither is likely to scale the heights they have previously.

Williams is 40 and Murray, who has a metal hip, 35. 

It is almost certainly futile for either to hope they can ever replicate the physical condition they were in at their peak.

A few years ago, the pair exiting Wimbledon in the opening rounds would have been viewed as a monumental upset; now, not so much.

Williams was outfoxed by an opponent ranked outside the world’s top 100 but mostly, she was outdone by her lack of match practice having not played a competitive singles match for a year. 

And Murray was unable to halt the serving juggernaut that was John Isner on his best form.

What was striking in each case, though, was just how much both Murray and Williams cared.

They may have been half a step slower than they were a few years ago, and both were certainly less match sharp than when they were at the top of the rankings.

But neither had any less fight or desire.

They could have been forgiven for feeling such almighty battles in the early rounds were beneath them. But there was no hint of that.

In fact, it was the fight they were there for, more than anything.

It may be the last time we see Williams and Murray on Centre Court, or we may yet see them another few times.

But amidst all the calls for them to retire, the sheer passion they both had for the fight made it easy to see why they are so reluctant to walk away just yet.