'London delivered on its promise'
IOC chief Jacques Rogge is a happy man, saying the Games were 'fabulous' but he wants Britain to ride the wave of its success with a long-term sports plan
The London Games succeeded in refreshing the Olympic brand by injecting enthusiasm as organisers delivered on their promise to create an event tailor-made for athletes, Jacques Rogge said last night.
Hours before the flame was extinguished at the stadium's cauldron during the Games closing ceremony, International Olympic Committee president Rogge said he was a happy man.
"I am a happy and grateful man. On July 6, 2005 London promised athletes' Games and that is exactly what we got," said Rogge, who presided over his last Games, sitting next to London Games chief Sebastian Coe.
"I will say history has been written by many athletes. The Games were absolutely fabulous. London has absolutely refreshed the Games," he said.
Organisers, who struggled with some empty seats in officials' seating areas in the opening days, saw the British public pour into the arenas, setting new spectator records.
Rogge (pictured) said London would not be the same after hosting the Games and urged national sports bodies and politicians to harness the energy and momentum the Olympics had created across Britain with a long-term sports plan.
"I think this is a challenge Britain faces, to continue on this wave. There is a great foundation that has been laid."
British athletes have been assured by Prime Minister David Cameron that government and National Lottery cash would continue to fund their training programmes through to the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Britain, hosting the Games in London for the third time, has enjoyed its best Olympic performance since 1908 with 28 golds and 62 medals going into the final day.
"This is no time to pull the plug on winners - the heroes who will inspire a generation again in four years' time," Cameron wrote in an article published in the
Sunday Times newspaper.
"So while most public spending programmes are set in concrete for the years ahead, I can confirm we will continue to fully fund elite sports ahead of the Rio Games in 2016, with £120 million [HK$1.46 billion] a year."
UK Sport had already been allocated government funding for elite athletes up to the end of the current spending review period (2014/15).
The new commitment ensures funding through the entire Olympic cycle. Cameron said the Games must "open the ambitions of the next generation" and the change had to start with competitive sport in schools.
"I am old enough to remember a time when things were run on a shoestring budget before National Lottery and government investment transformed British Olympic sport," said Chris Hoy, Britain's most decorated Olympian.
"Having these guarantees for the future will be a huge boost for all the athletes aiming to win medals at Rio 2016 and proves we are serious about building a strong legacy from London 2012."
Cameron linked Britain's success at the Olympics to his own efforts to drag an ailing economy out of recession, saying the Games were a confidence booster for the nation that showed the value of planning and hard work.
Meanwhile Rogge, asked to pick his personal highlight, said he was torn between the world record-breaking 800m win of Kenya's David Rudisha and Hoy winning his sixth gold medal.
"A magic moment was David Rudisha and his 800m, this was beauty in action," Rogge said, adding that Hoy's tears as he received his sixth gold were a "defining image" of the Games.
Reuters, Agence France-Presse