House of Payne: 2012 gives British sport cause for optimism
We have just lived through probably the most astonishing sporting year this nation has ever, or will ever, see, writes John Payne.
To try to do justice to what we have enjoyed during 2012 in a few-hundred words is impossible.
For a few dizzy weeks in the summer, we seemed to have a daily feed of iconic moments.
The one that for me summed up the sheer joy of the summer came on so-called Super Saturday when Mo Farah won the second of his gold medals in the most thrilling fashion.
To see someone who had, until that point, probably gained more column inches in the Surrey Comet than anywhere else turn the Mobot into a worldwide phenomenon was extraordinary.
That feeling was repeated on the final day of the Paralympics when David Weir stormed to marathon gold.
It was his fourth gold medal of the Games and he, more than anyone else, helped make people see sport in a different way.
The Wallington racer isn’t just a great Paralympian, he is a truly great sportsman, whose name should be mentioned in the same breath as Bradley Wiggins, as Andy Murray or as Jessica Ennis.
But it wasn’t just about the heroics on the track, on the river, in the velodrome. It was about the way the people responded to what was going on.
We had endured seven years of scepticism ahead of the Olympics and yet, when it actually happened, it was the people who made it.
The Games Makers, the people who lined the streets of south-west London and Surrey for the cycling, the unbelievable heroes’ welcome for our Olympians and Paralympians after the Games.
It’s easy to be downbeat and fear we will never see the like again, but it is as a great sporting nation that our future identity looks most assured.
Even before London 2012, we saw Wiggins win the Tour de France and Chelsea remarkably win the Champions League.
Confidence has been carried into other sports – Chris Robshaw’s England rugby team beating the All Blacks for the first time in 10 years and Alastair Cook’s cricket team winning a Test series in India for the first time since 1985.
2012 may be an impossible act to follow, but anything is possible.