A total of 48 Island athletes were a part of it as the host nation put the Great back in Britain over a truly memorable fortnight of sport and celebration.
The 2012 London Summer Olympics concluded Sunday with the Whos My Generation reverberating throughout the stadium at the end of the frenetic closing ceremonies that chronicled several eras of British pop music history, from Ray Davies, Queen and the Spice Girls to One Direction.
The Canadians wore casual denim as they walked into the closing ceremonies, which by tradition are much less formal than the opening. Bronze-medallist soccer player Christine Sinclair of Burnaby carried the Canadian flag for the closing, following up Victoria triathlete Simon Whitfield, who carried it in the London opening ceremony.
Nanoose Bay high-jumper Mike Mason, who narrowly missed a medal, walked in alongside fellow Canadian high-jumper Derek Drouin, who was awarded bronze. Mens eight silver-medallist Malcolm Howard was at the base of a human pyramid as fellow-Victoria rower Patricia Obee scaled to the top before thinking better of it and scampering back down.
Victoria rower David Calder walked in with his sunglasses popped on the top of his head. Nearby was pairs partner and Brentwood College grad Scott Frandsen.
Im looking for closure at the closing ceremony, said four-time Olympian Calder.
Its always been part of my plan to participate tonight. It will be nice to say goodbye to my last Olympics as an athlete. This will help the transition.
There was also sporting action on the last day of the London Games.
Gold-medallists LeBron, Kobe and the U.S. Redeem Team II werent the only ones competing on the day. The last of the 48 athletes from or based on the Island to compete were mountain bikers Geoff Kabush, a University of Victoria mechanical engineering graduate from Courtenay in his third Olympics, and Tofino native and Olympic rookie Max Plaxton of Victoria.
Plaxton did not finish. Kabush placed a credible eighth in the race Sunday and now has two top-10 finishes over three career Olympics dating to Sydney 2000.
I really felt comfortable and confident on the starting line, said Kabush.
It was a close race and there are so many variables, and things that can change the course of a race. I dreamed big and I came up with the goal of winning a medal. But I accept my eighth place and Im satisfied.
Island athletes ended the London Games with four medals, through the silvers won by the Elk Lake-based Canadian mens rowing eight and Victoria swimmer Ryan Cochrane in the 1,500-metre freestyle and the bronzes won by 10-K open-water swimmer Richard Weinberger of Victoria and cyclist Gillian Carleton of Victoria in womens velodrome track team pursuit.
Weinberger, Carleton and Cam Levins of Black Creek with Levins top-15 in both the track 5,000 and 10,000 metres against killer fields headed by home-nation gold-medallist sensation Mo Farah lead a generation of young Island athletes introduced to the world during the London Games.
There were Island disappointments, too, with Beijing Olympic silver-medallists Calder and Frandsen failing to medal this time around in London, favourites Obee and fellow-Victorian Lindsay Jennerich failing to reach the podium in womens lightweight doubles, two-time Olympic medallist Whitfield crashing out of the mens triathlon and Victoria-based Paula Findlay, a former world No. 1, tearfully crossing the finish line 52nd in the womens triathlon after missing a great deal of lead-up preparation due to a vexing hip injury.
So it could have been almost directly to the Island athletes that Sebastian Coe, the former track great and head of the London Olympic organizing committee, was speaking when he said during the closing ceremony: We witnessed heroism and heartbreak that will live long in the memory.
Canada finished with 18 medals, the same as in Beijing 2008, good for 13th in total medals won at London and just off the stated pre-Games goal of top-12. But Canada, with one, was only 36th in gold medals, which is the standard used outside North American to rank nations in the Games.
After topping the gold medals table at the home-nation 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, Canadians jarringly rediscovered just how much greater the depth of field is in Summer Games sports and how much harder it is to win a medal in the Summer Olympics than in the Winter Olympics.
Tougher or not, it is now done.
We lit the flame and lit up the world, said Coe, in closing the Games.
The British certainly did, with a Games that were rousing, stirring and simply sensational.
The Olympic flag was handed to the mayor of Rio de Janeiro, host city for the 2016 Summer Olympics, which provided a slow samba beat during its portion of the closing ceremony that was topped with an appearance by soccer legend PelÃ©.
Olympic beach volleyball player Martin Reader of the Comox Valley can contemplate going from playing at Horse Guards Parade in London to Copacabana Beach. Cant beat that.
So the work begins for athletes all over the Island which is a major Canadian Summer Olympics training hub with 1,452 days and counting until Rio 2016.
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