WHAT WITH empty seats at the stadium, green water in the diving pool and a puzzling shortage of money forcing major cuts to the Paralympics, for Brazil the Rio Olympics have been a triumph of disorganisation.
Yet, for the athletes themselves, the triumph has been of an entirely different order. The organisational errors were many, but they count for nothing compared with the competitive spirit which always surges to the fore at any Olympics and which triumphs by capturing the hearts of a global audience.
And it is the part that Britain has played that has been most astonishing of all.
Over the past 20 years, since plumbing the ignominious depths of the Atlanta Games to return with a solitary gold, Britain has turned itself into a ruthless medal-winning machine to the point where its position in the medal table now rivals such traditional Olympic giants as China. Indeed, for Britons, the cascade of golden moments has seemingly been never-ending. The way in which Britain’s Olympic charge has been led by Yorkshire (this region would be 17th in the table) has been truly remarkable, not only in the successes of the Yorkshire contenders themselves, but also in the number of other athletes trained or based here.
For all this success, much of the credit must go to that unsung Olympian, Sir John Major, who set up the National Lottery with the key aim of benefiting sport, a gift that continues to give and give.