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FEATURE Remembering London 2012: Golden glory, but what about its legacy? By Simon Cambers

Europe
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London won the rights to stage the 2012 Olympics largely on promises of regeneration and legacy, but did it succeed?

London (dpa) - Success, when it comes to the Olympic Games, is not simply a matter of what medal you bring home.

Fast times on the track and in the pool and outstanding achievements across every sport live long in the memory of the fans in the stadiums and those watching on television around the planet.

But for organisers, it‘s also about producing the best Games possible and crucially, providing a legacy for future generations.

As the 2016 Olympic Games begin in Rio, those responsible for running the London Olympics four years ago may just be wondering what, if anything, is the legacy that the 2012 Games left behind.

With every session sold out, London 2012 was hugely successful in terms of ticket sales, merchandise and all the accompanying food and drink.

But London won the Games largely on the strength of its bid, which focused on regenerating a depressed area of east London and inspiring a generation of young people to get into sport and even be successful themselves at future Olympics.

In 2013, with the feel-good factor created by the Games yet to diminish, the then British prime minister, David Cameron, said: "To be truly successful, the Games can‘t just be the memory of one summer. It was always the plan that the legacy left by the Games should last a lifetime."

Costing just under 9 billion pounds, including the Paralympics, London was an expensive venture as a part of east London was transformed into a multi-sport playground, from the impressive Olympic Stadium to the futuristic aquatic centre.

In the aftermath of the Games, the Olympic Stadium was reduced in capacity and will become the home of Premier League football club West Ham under a 99-year lease agreement, while it will also stage athletics‘ World Championships in 2017.

A new community athletics track has been built adjacent to the stadium while the aquatic centre was turned into a swimming pool for all levels at low prices and the cavernous media centre is now home to a number of businesses, including BT Sport.

But if the stadiums have been put to good use, the pledge to "inspire a generation", so eloquently made by the now IAAF president Sebastian Coe when London won the bid in 2007, has been far more problematic.

Though participation figures rose in the months soon after the Games, they have plateaued since.

The number of people aged 16 or more doing at least 30 minutes of sport per week has dipped since 2012 and the government has downgraded its commitment to get more children playing regular sport in schools.

And east London remains the poor relation in the nation‘s capital.

Tessa Jowell, the Olympics minister when London won the bid, told The Guardian recently there were two reasons to stage the Olympics.

"To regenerate this part of east London and to transform a generation of young people through sport," she said. "It was that pure and simple."

Pure and simple, but in London‘s case, very difficult to produce in practice.

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