When I first discovered that the Olympics were coming to London, I was nonplussed! I am not that interested in most sports on TV as a rule and the thought of London 2012 hijacking our telly channels for a fortnight seemed excessive. How wrong could I have been!
From the brilliantly British Opening Ceremony I was hooked. I went on to watch cycling, swimming, rowing, boxing, archery and other random sports, many of which I didn't even understand the rules of. I quickly began to recognise many of Team GB's sporting greats alongside the old familiar faces of Bolt, Phelps et al and excitedly followed their Olympic journeys through heats, semi-finals and then the glory of the finals themselves. I celebrated every success and shed many a tear at the emotional medal ceremonies.
The atmosphere of all the venues and the respect shown by the British audiences to athletes of all nationalities was humbling. We are a nation often criticized for being rude and disrespectful, but the people who usually give us this bad reputation stayed away. There was no trouble at all. No negativity. No protests. No violence. We did ourselves proud on the global stage. We were able to forget our economic problems and put aside our differences. After all the troubles in the UK it was like a breath of fresh air to see us united, happy and all working towards a common goal.
The Closing Ceremony was a triumph, celebrating Britsish music, sports, vehicles, comedy and culture. It made me realise just how 'great' Britain is. How our reach and influence transcends global boundaries. How amazing we actually are as a nation. The Spice Girls arriving in their personalised black cabs was a joyous moment. OK, they are basically now just a bunch of 30-something mums whose kids were probably hideously embarrassed...but hell, they invented "Girl Power"! Take That singing their beautiful and oh so poignant "Rule the World" made me sob. Gary Barlow was so brave and so professional, my heart broke for him. Seeing our music greats from across the decades on giant screens, or watching them perform aboard iconic road vehicles was just genius. We really know how to put on a show. We are relevant, current and we are the trendsetters that the world follows.
This fortnight has put our nation on the world map as a creative, innovative, talented and incredibly welcoming bunch. With my faith restored in humanity and my pride in my country rekindled, I look forward to doing it all again for the Paralympics!