The Olympic flame has been extinguished, to be re-lit in Beijing four years from now.
Covering the Games was without doubt one of the most gruelling assignments I’ve ever done – but now it’s finally over and I'm back in London, here’s my Olympic scorecard.
GOLD MEDALS TO....
ATHENS: The city – and Greece as a whole – proved its doubters spectacularly wrong. Competitions passed off smoothly, the transport system worked almost flawlessly and the sense of pride at the Games returning to their spiritual home was palpable.
The Times, in particular, should publish a front page apology for its sensationalist and biased reporting in the run-up to the Games.
Greece is now faced with one astronomical financial hangover as it wakes up on the morning after and tries to work out how it’s going to pay for the lavish party it organised. But what a party it was.
TEAM GB: Great Britain’s 30 medals represented its second best performance since the Paris Games in 1924. Kelly Holmes, Amir Khan and Matthew Pinsent became new British Olympic superstars. Their performances in Athens will be savoured for many years to come. Great Britain’s victory in the 4 x 100m provided one of the greatest shocks of the Games.
SECURITY: Fears that the first Olympics after 9/11 would turn Athens into a fortress proved to be groundless. Security was tight and at times inconsistent but the soldiers, warships, aircraft and intelligence officers deployed to protect the Games successfully managed to keep athletes and spectators safe without dampening the mood of celebration.
CHINA: China’s 32 gold, 17 silver and 14 bronze medals heralded the emergence of a sporting superpower. Preparation for the Beijing Games in four years’ time couldn’t be more different to Athens -- the IOC has already urged China to slow down for fear it’ll be ready too soon. But China’s poor human rights record cannot and must not be ignored by the Olympic Movement.
MILK BOTTLE TOPS TO...
DRUGS CHEATS: The scandal of Kostas Kenderis and Katerina Thanou cast a dark cloud over the start of the Games. Athens saw the highest number of positive doping tests of any games. While this shows that rigorous testing is helping to catch the cheats it also highlights the darker side of sport. Weightlifting in particular urgently needs to get its house in order.
CORRUPT OFFICIALS: The suspension of Bulgarian IOC representative Ivan Slavkov following the Panorama expose demonstrated that even after the changes introduced post-Salt Lake, some members of the Olympic Family care little for the noble ideals of the movement.
PAULA RADCLIFFE: So much expectation. So little achievement.
GRAND SPONSORS: Heineken, Coca Cola, McDonalds. I hope their bland, tasteless products never pass my lips ever again.