London Olympics closes with a celebrity spectacular

Aug 13, 2012
Gavin Mortimer

But the crowd gave Olympic volunteers a bigger cheer than Russell Brand miming on a camper van

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THANK GOD for Anthony Joshua. Were it for not for his gold in the final of the super heavyweight boxing the enduring image of the last day of the XXX Olympiad might well have been that of Russell Brand dressed as Willy Wonka singing ‘I Am the Walrus' from atop a psychedelic camper van.

It's fair to say that the Closing Ceremony of the London Olympics failed to hit the heights of Danny Boyle's stupendous Opening Ceremony 16 days earlier. Instead of symbolism we got celebrity - and mostly mediocre ones at that.

If we're hoping that the legacy of these Games will be an end to the inanity of talentless non-entities such as Brand and One Direction it seems we still have a long way to go. Not that the 80,000 crowd were fooled by director Kim Gavin's limp spectacle. Who got the biggest cheer of the night? The Spice Girls? Kate Moss? Jessie J?

In fact it went to the half a dozen volunteers who were called up on stage to receive bouquets of flowers from six athletes as a thank you for all the hard work they and the rest of their 70,000 colleagues had performed during the Olympics. It was one of the few class acts of the night.

The Queen – like most of the big names of the British music scene – had wisely decided to give the event a wide berth, instead delegating Prince Harry to represent the Royal Family. How he wished he must have been over at Hyde Park where Blur, The Specials and New Order were showing the true face of British music.

But despite the disappointing end to the London Olympics, Team GB finished the Games on a high, winning three more medals on Sunday, including Joshua's gold in the ring to finish third in the overall medal table.

The 22-year-old Joshua overcame the reigning champion, Italy's Roberto Cammarelle, in the super-heavyweight final after going into the third and final round three points behind. But the Londoner threw some fierce shots in the final three minutes to snatch gold from the Italian. Cammarelle later appealed the decision but lost and Joshua mounted the podium to collect Britain's 29th gold of the Games.

Earlier in the day Fred Evans had won silver in the welterweight division as Britain enjoyed its finest Olympics in the ring since 1920. And the honour of winning the last of Team GB's 65 medals went to Samantha Murray in the modern pentathlon. The 22-year-old finished behind Lithuania's Laura Asadauskaite to take silver with Yane Marques of Brazil claiming bronze. It was the final event of the London Games and perhaps fitting that the last medal should be won by a woman whose country will host the next Olympics in Rio.

"If you have a goal, if there's anything you want to achieve in life, don't let anybody get in your way," said Murray, who finished well ahead of her compatriot, world champion Mhairi Spence.

Murray's silver was the 17th of the Games for Team GB which, along with the 29 golds and 19 bronzes, represent Britain's best haul at an Olympics since 1908. And to think that it was only 16 years ago, at the Atlanta Games, when Team GB finished 36th in the medal table (behind Ireland and Algeria) with one gold, eight silvers and 15 bronzes.

The challenge now for British sport is to build on the success of the 2012 Olympics and ensure that at the 2028 Games they are not back to where they were in Atlanta. That will only be achieved by government funding and the sort of bloody-minded determination shown by Joshua and Murray on Sunday.

Let's hope these Games have truly inspired a generation to dream of standing on a podium with a gold medal round their necks, and not on top of a camper van singing ‘I Am the Walrus'.

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I enjoyed the closing ceremony more than the opening ceremony except that the channel nine commentators in Australia talked too much. All of the events throughout the games seemed to have good venues. On the whole a job well done by GB. Great medal tally too, well done. Aussie

Gavin Mortimer obviously watched a diifferent closing ceremony to me, and the rest of Britain.. I was blown away by it, as were everyone I know.. I bet Gavin was one of the.. Waste of money, it'll be a disaster, we couldn't organise a booze up in a brewery brigade pre games...get a life.

Don't speak for the rest of Britain! Gavin hit the nail on the head. Accusing him of pre-games cynicism is an unfair criticism, especially as there is zero evidence for it in this article, the tone of which is wholly supportive of the Olympic games. You could do better than telling people who don't share your own limited opinion to 'get a life.'

This ceremony was so awful I felt thoroughly ashamed to be British. Absolute third rate garbage from start to finish. Only the Royal Ballet sequence showed some glimmer of good taste, other than than in the ghastly music which accompanied it. Even Prince Harry looked bored out of his mind.

They forgot Boy George and Beny Hill. It's a shame.

Look, it's all over now. Team GB was fantastic, for the most part, and the volunteers were amazing. So, you didn't like the opening or closing ceremonies - No one asked for, or cares about, your opinions.

All of you nay sayers are part of the problem. You sit on your backsides criticising everything without bringing anything else to the table - you are indeed the leaches of society, the last people to ever volunteer for anything and the first to whine on about anyone else's efforts.

It wasn't awful at all, it was the cheesy after-party that it should be. The opening ceremony hit all the right notes for culture, eccentricity and intelligence, it would not have been right for the closing night to be a repeat. Apart from a few poor song choices it was relaxed good fun that seemed fitting. Also, if this ceremony made anyone ashamed to be British then they need to reflect on the Olympics as a whole package...we did ourselves proud!

This is an utterly ludicrous repsonse. What you are basically saying is that integrity and discriminating awareness are not welcome to society. I wonder how you think great works of art are produced? Since when was criticising celebrity culture akin to inactivity, unwillingness to participate and leeching off society? You are out of your tiny mind.

It's all about your attitude - which is negative. If you've got nothing good to say, then stay quiet, OR BETTER STILL, come up with something better. Which you clearly can't. My guess is that you wouldn't have the first idea of how.

With your backside firmly lodged in place, ready to bray about how ghastly everything is, you take the easy critical route, via a comments page, from where you can't be held accountable.

Then, you continue to whine because someone has the temerity to identify you for what you are: A self important toady to the right-on, professionally insulted brigade, who think it clever and trendy to be contrary to the intent of the subject at hand.

OK, you didn't like it - then get involved the next time Great Britain needs to represented, and we'll all bow to the great Nin for producing and directing such a superior and culturally precise performance.

I'll see you there, because I didn't like elements of it either, but I can only imagine how much honest hard work and effort went into it.

Oh, and I really hope that your masterpiece is adored by everyone - I'd hate for you to be upset by pointless, negative, pseudo intellectual guffers, ranting on a comments page about how crappy your little show was.

So ashamed that you carried on watching, rather than turning it off, or changing channel? If the Royal Ballet is your thing then great, some of it appealed to you. All things to all people? I bet you're not.

I don't really see how my attitude could be construed as negative. I didn't actually say anything about the ceremony and certainly couldn't be accused of whining. In fact what I did was defend the right of this writer to criticise the choices made by those who put on the ceremony. There is nothing clever or trendy about this. Your aggression is misplaced and your attempt at a personal attack very strange. You know nothing about me, or my involvement in the games or anything else for that matter. I might point out that you are also writing on a comments page, and the substance of your comment is a good deal more negative than mine, which you clearly didn't read very carefully.

....and now you distance yourself - interesting.

Yes, I don't usually comment about things I haven't bothered to watch or read until the end. Sorry if I've touched a raw nerve!

Just to give an outsider's perspective: I'm Canadian and I really loved most of the closing ceremony. There were a couple lulls, such as George Michael's second song - and while ballet is great live, it really doesn't work on television. Nevertheless, I think it kept up the pace incredibly well for such a long event, and there were no parts as far off the mark as the whole text/love story part of the opening ceremony, which fell flat for those of us in the generation it tried to describe.

For the most part it really did what it was meant to, which is showcase great UK music. More importantly, from what I saw the athletes were having a great time. This performance may have been more for them than for the crowd or television audience, and I think that's just fine.

Congratulations on a great olympics, London.

+Also "Always look on the bright side of life" was perfect.

Russel Brand was amazing!! John would be proud.

Wanna switch....I'm Canadian. If the closing ceremonies ashamed, you do not deserve to be British.

The hundreds of years of history British song writers bring to the table was clearly evident in the lyric and melody by their most famous musical sons and daughters ( with exception of course to the Spice Girls...who could possibly be American).