David Leggat on sport

David Leggat is a Herald sport writer

David Leggat: London about to come back down to Earth

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London's Tower Bridge during the opening ceremony of the Olympics. Photo / AP.
London's Tower Bridge during the opening ceremony of the Olympics. Photo / AP.

Two days left and then it's all over for another four years.

The Olympic Games circus will be packed up and shipped off to South America for the first time, with Rio to host the quadrennial event in 2016.

How will London cope, post Games? Years of buildup, hype and the expectations of the city's residents are about to come to a juddering halt.

In The Times newspaper this week, columnist Howard Jacobson referred to the English capital as having been turned into a giant Butlins holiday park.

He may have been standing in Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus when that thought came to mind. The crush of humanity around there takes some seeing, even by its usual hectic standards.

Around there, it is entirely possible to walk 60m in a straight line and not hear the English language spoken - then again the sheer numbers mean straight line walking isn't that easy anyway.

Broadly speaking life will return to normal, but from Monday morning there will suddenly be a large vacuum in the lives of thousands. People whose professions begin with "psy" could be in for a significant boost in business.

When volunteer - or Games Maker, as they're officially known, and no, don't ask why - Sam Morris turned up to work in the Olympic Park's main press centre late this week for her last two shifts she said, "I suddenly felt a real sense of loss".

It's a comment not hard to find if you scratch the surface. People whose lives have been changed dramatically for a couple of weeks will return to the day jobs. The usual gripes and grizzles of daily life will resume.

Still, all good things must end and it would be intriguing to return in 10 years to Stratford, HQ for the Games with its massive complex of accommodation blocks and event stadiums, and see whether the legacy element, which was drummed in as a plank for hosting the Games, has succeeded in changing lives in a working class area.

From a New Zealand perspective it is comforting to discover some things don't change.

New Zealanders and Australians still inhabit those same parts of west London they have for decades. Put it this way: you won't hear an Oz-Kiwi accent around Stratford.

The beer still comes warm; the drinking establishment known as the church, beloved of a couple of generations of young Kiwis and Aussies, is still in business; and the London underground remains a place to avoid on a warm day, save the fact that it is a seriously efficient way of getting about the great city.

Roll on Rio, and the distinctive flavour it will bring to the Games in four years; just as London has left an impressive footprint on Olympic history.

- NZ Herald

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