Britain lived the Olympic dream

  • By: Chris Hammer
  • Last Updated: August 13 2012, 10:44 BST

When the Queen played the role of a Bond girl during the opening ceremony, we all knew we were in for something special.

A selection of Great Britain's gold medal winners

Then London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe promised: "This is our time. And one day we will tell our children and our grandchildren that when our time came, we did it right."

But we didn't just do it 'right'.

Because 16 days later, Great Britain - and indeed the entire world - had been treated to the most spectacular and unforgettable Olympics anyone could have dreamed of.

These Games delivered emphatically on their promise to inspire a generation and bring the nation closer together than ever before in recent times.

So, rather than be down and depressed that the Games have inevitably come to an end, we should continue to feel proud and joyful that the past two weeks happened as they did.

  • Helen Glover and Heather Stanning got the gold rush under way in the women's pair
  • Bradley Wiggins: King of the time trial
  • Etienne Stott and Tim Baillie: Memorable gold in the canoe slalom
  • Moments later Peter Wilson picked up a shooting gold at the Royal Artillery Barracks.
  • Chris Hoy, Philip Hindes and Jason Kenny won the team sprint in the velodrome
  • Katherine Grainger's wait for Olympic gold ended with Anna Watkins
  • There was team pursuit glory for Ed Clancy, Geraint Thomas, Steven Burke and Peter Kennaugh
  • Victoria Pendleton delighted the velodrome crowd with victory in the keirin
  • Alex Gregory, Pete Reed, Tom James and Andrew Triggs Hodge triumphed in the men's four
  • Katherine Copeland and Sophie Hosking 'won the Olympics'
  • A stunning gold for Joanna Rowsell Laura Trott and Dani King in the team pursuit
  • Jessica Ennis lit up the Olympic Stadium with heptathlon gold
  • Moments later Greg Rutherford claimed long jump glory
  • And Mo Farah capped off the first of two 'Super Saturday's' with victory in the 10000m
  • Ben Ainslie won a fourth straight sailing gold medal
  • Andy Murray got his revenge on Roger Federer to claim tennis glory
  • Nick Skelton, Ben Maher, Scott Brash and Peter Charles won gold in the showjumping
  • Jason Kenny picked up his second gold of the Games in the sprint
  • Alistair Brownlee was an impressive winner of the triathlon
  • Carl Hester Laura Bechtolsheimer and Charlotte Dujardin teamed up for victory in the dressage
  • Laura Trott emerged as a cycling star as she won the omnium for her second London 2012 gold
  • Chris Hoy couldn't hold back the tears as he became Britain's most successful Olympian of all time with his sixth career gold - this one in the keirin
  • Charlotte Dujardin stole the dressage show to clinch individual gold
  • Nicola Adams won the hearts of a nation with her big smile and by winning the first women's boxing gold
  • Late on day 13, Jade Jones delighted the crowd with her taekwondo triumph
  • The Usain Bolt of the canoe world - Ed McKeever - stormed to glory in the K1 200m sprint.
  • Mo Farah etched his name into Olympic history by joining the elite group of men to complete the long distance double
  • Luke Campbell gave the men's boxers their first gold of the Games
  • Anthony Joshua won Britain's 29th and final gold of an incredible Olympics with victory in the super-heavyweight final.
All the best pictures of the athletes who won Great Britain's 29 medals at this summer's Olympic Games.

Like each and every athlete who put their absolute all - whether it ended in ecstasy or bitter disappointment - into trying to fulfil their Olympic aspirations the people of Great Britain certainly made the most of it while it lasted and will treasure the memories for years to come. There can be no regrets.

Sadly we can't bottle up the nationwide feeling of euphoria and make it last forever, as the mundane rigours of normal life imminently return but we must capitalise on this unique platform to ensure a sporting legacy for all.

And there's no reason why we cannot do that.

Hosting the Olympics in this country captured the imagination and attention of the nation and the increase in the pressure on the government and sporting organisations to up their game in regards to facilities, funding, school sport provision and pathways to involvement at club level will be immense.

Nobody will want to go backwards from this because there will never be an opportunity like this again.

Prime Minister David Cameron has already announced UK Sport will receive £125 million annually for the next four years to maintain funding for Olympic sports at the same level as during the run-up to London, while he's also promised that competitive team sports will be made compulsory for all primary age children in a new national curriculum. But that should be the bare minimum.

In the years leading up to London 2012, sporting participation in Great Britain has been on the decline and there were fears the legacy pledge would fail miserably.

We have become a lazy nation obsessed by television, the cult of celebrity and social networking in the internet age but paradoxically it has been the popularity of Twitter and other similar services which has enabled the world's population to share these Olympics and follow the competing athletes more closely and enthusiastically than in any previous Games.

The coverage on television has been nothing short of sensational in terms of giving every viewer the chance to watch every single second while the country's new heroes will now be transcending pop culture to unprecedented levels, putting sport further in the spotlight.

Taken together, all this has woken the nation up to a wide range of new activities and the passion will undoubtedly be boosted by the feel-good factor attached to our athletes doing so remarkably well.

Even though Team GB didn't mount a medal challenge in events such as volleyball, handball, water polo and basketball, the venues were all sold out and the crowds were captivated by the non-stop action.

Without a strong history in these events, our British athletes weren't in it to win it but they've fulfilled the primary objective of making the country's youngsters realise there are more team sports out there to enjoy than our traditional favourites.

There is a sport for everyone and hopefully schools will be able offer a lot more than just football, rugby, cricket and muddy cross country in the cold.

Eyes have also been opened to hundreds of new role models who have worked unbelievably hard and made difficult personal sacrifices to achieve their goals without the financial gains enjoyed by our footballing 'idols'.

Of course many will soon flock back to the latter when the new season gets up and running but hopefully they won't forget the connection they felt with the Olympians during this incredible fortnight and will continue to follow their progress with more than just passing interest.

  • A spectacular Opening Ceremony came to a fitting end, as seven young athletes were handed the responsibility of lighting the Olympic Cauldron
  • Archer Im Dong Hyeun of South Korea broke a World Record before the Olympic ceremony had even begun. He is legally blind in one eye
  • Michael Phelps did not quite match his haul in 2008, but the American won his 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th Gold Medals to become the greatest Olympian ever
  • Chinese prodigy Ye Shiwen blew away the competition in the pool, overcoming false accusations of foul play to smash the 400m Medley World Record
  • Tour de France hero Bradley Wiggins became the most decorated British Olympian of all time as he cruised to Gold in the Time Trial
  • After so many near misses veteran rower Katherine Grainger finally won her first Olympic Gold alongside partner Anna Watkins
  • Zhou Lulu of China shattered the Women's weightlifting World Record by lifting 333kg, more than four times her own bodyweight
  • Cycling great Chris Hoy took up the mantle of Britain's greatest ever Olympian, as he secured his sixth gold medal in the Keirin
  • Victoria Pendleton's loss to Australian rival Anna Mears in the Sprint final proved a poignant moment, as the great cyclist took her final bow
  • Laura Trott however proved that women's cycling in Britain is by no means on the decline, as the 20 year old took double gold in the Velodrome
  • Britain's men's gymnastics team made history, as they became the first Brits for 100 years to win a team gymnastics medal
  • The American Women's team blew away the field in the women's event, with McKayla Maroney and Gabrielle Douglas leading the way
  • Golden Girl Jessica Ennis' Heptathlon win was celebrated the nation over, as she set World Records and Personal Bests on her way to Gold
  • Mo Farah sent the crowd in the Olympic Stadium wild, as his Gold in an enthralling 10k Final capped the most successful day in British Olympic history
  • Usain Bolt silenced any doubters, proving he is the fsastest man ever with convincing wins in the 100 and 200 metres
  • Double amputee Oscar Pistorious of South Africa makes history as he competes in the 400m heats
  • The USA's women's 4x100m team broke one of the longest standing world records, as their time of 40.82 seconds shattered the 1980 record set by East Germany
  • One gold was not enough for Mo, as he became the first Brit to win both the 5000 and 10,000 metres; becoming a national hero
  • Bolt and Blake were on hand to guide the Jamaican men's 4x100m team to another Gold Medal and a World Record time
  • British Super Heavyweight Anthony Joshua announced himself as the new star of World Boxing with a Gold Medal winning performance
Pictures rounding up the greatest moments of a memorable Games; as London 2012 reaches its conclusion

Women's sport has also been a massive winner of London 2012 and the impact of female British success cannot be overstated.

After a Games where every nation has fielded representatives of both sexes, youngsters in this country now have more female sporting role models across a plethora of events to look to than ever before.

Team GB's women won 10 golds as well as contributing to the victorious mixed dressage team, while they also picked up six silvers (plus the mixed tennis doubles and equestrian eventing team) and six bronzes.

Not only did the much hyped stars such as Jessica Ennis and Victoria Pendleton seize their golden moments but new stars emerged into the public consciousness such as cycling duo Laura Trott and Lizzie Armitstead, judo player Gemma Gibbons, boxing sensation Nicola Adams and taekwondo champion Jade Jones to name just five.

Veteran rower Katherine Grainger proved nobody should ever give up on their dreams as she won her first Olympic gold alongside Anna Watkins, having managed silvers in her previous three Games, while weightlifter Zoe Smith won a lot of hearts despite going home without a medal.

As any British athlete will tell you, the electrifying roars of the rapturous home crowds turned out to be more uplifting and motivating than anyone envisaged.

Those lucky enough to experience an Olympic event firsthand will never forget the spine tingling aura which filled each venue as well as the exciting vibe present throughout the streets of London and other participating locations.

From the Olympic Stadium to the Aquatics Centre and the Velodrome to Eton Dorney, the fans upped the decibels to unprecedented levels and were rewarded with the most British medallists since 1908.

Even the football stadiums across the country felt the same Olympic spirit without any of the hostility, anger and animosity which usually frequents such venues.

The atmosphere for the final four or five laps of Mo Farah's 10,000m triumph - preceded by amazing golds from Ennis and Greg Rutherford in a the greatest hour of British athletics ever - was like a sustained last-minute goal celebration in football that just got louder and louder and louder until its climax of unparalleled jubilation.

And almost identical scenes occurred a week later when our long distance hero repeated the feat in the 5000m to complete an incredible double and cement his place in Olympic folklore.

After every session of athletics, the sell-out crowds left the Olympic Stadium filled with inspiration, elation and smiles on their faces. There were never any losers.

Including the millions glued to their TV sets at home, unable to get a ticket, our nation has felt a shared sense of pride and positivity during this magical fortnight and we can't just forget how many thrills all these sports have created.

There's a prosperous sporting future here for the taking and having watched our athletes do their bit and more to inspire, it's now over to everyone to create their own legacy.