When London won the Olympic bid in 2005 I was completely un-moved and as I watched the spectacular opening ceremony of 2008 in Beijing, followed by the hand over to GB in the closing ceremony, I was convinced that London 2012 would be an embarrassing disaster.

Why did I feel like this? Perhaps because in my lifetime British sporting achievement had been a bit thin on the ground. OK we won the World Cup in 1966 and Wimbledon Ladies Final in 1972 but apart from that we Brits were past masters at falling at the last hurdle, literally.

Even the start of the torch relay round Britain, which to be fair had some spectacular moments, left me cold. The only thing I was really enjoying was the excellent BBC spoof documentary ‘Twenty Twelve’. British comedy at it’s brilliant best. But what about the ending? A nation held it’s breath and was left dangling.

Incidentally, if they had done an episode featuring Boris dangling on a zip wire, everyone would have said they had over stepped the mark and become too fanciful. Just goes to show fact can be even funnier than fiction.

I sat down apprehensively to watch the opening ceremony, not really knowing what to expect but fearing the worst. In the first few moments I thought my fears would be realised, but once I’d got over the “what the  – – – – -?” moment, I was spellbound. It was when the mill chimneys rose from the floor of the stadium that the penny dropped. Perhaps it was my Yorkshire up bringing, but from that moment I was hooked.

Once the games began for real on the Saturday I was mesmerised and when team GB began winning medals I was gripped. Yet as I watched the huge spectacle it was the little things I noticed that made me realise for the first time what an extraordinary achievement this was.

Let’s for a moment ignore the hype, the politics, the budgets, the security scares, the doping scandals, copyright wrangles and fast food sponsors. Just imagine the effort that has gone into what I genuinely believe could be called the greatest show on earth, and so soon after the Jubilee too. The attention to detal and finishing touches were all there to be seen if you just took the time to look.

The TV coverage has been excellent, though some of the interviews have been a bit toe curling. The presenters, commentators and pundits have all got into the spirit of the moment casting aside their usual impartiality and allowing their emotions and genuine excitement to show. I know us Brits are famous for our stiff upper lips, but it’s so refreshing to see professional people showing their softer side in front of millions of viewers. It made you feel like you were watching it with family and friends.

Then there are the athletes. I doubt anyone of us truly understands the effort, sacrifice, highs, lows and  physical effort that they and their families endure for their chance at a few minutes of glory. Some succeed and their few minutes turn into a lifetime of fame and fortune, but most don’t. The point is they all still try.

The Olympics, quite unexpectedly, have entered every part of my life. I was out gardening sometime during the second week and a couple of cyclists rode passed. Out of nowhere I had this over whelming urge to shout, “Bradley Wiggins” at them. Thankfully commonsense prevailed and they rode by in blissful ignorance.

If these games don’t inspire a generation of new athletes, then I don’t know what will. I was inspired and I’m 58 years old! Amusingly I entered my height and weight into a little online gizmo to see what sport would suit me. At only 5′ tall I knew it wouldn’t be basketball. Guess what? I could be a weight lifter!!

So in conclusion, from an originally sceptical, disinterested member of the British public I say to the all the people who helped to make these Olympic Games a success, from the volunteers right the way to Lord Coe but particularly to the athletes “Well done and thank-you for making London 2012 a once in a life time experience”. I salute you all.