Sun sets on London's Olympic Park for 2012 Games

Team GB fans
Image caption Fans have been out in force to cheer on the athletes throughout the Games

Sometimes in the Olympic Park it has felt that not only have the Games come to London, but the city has taken off to Planet Olympic.

British cycling performance director Dave Brailsford, whose team won 12 medals including eight golds, put it best.

"It feels like we're in a sports theme park, and the characters are walking around in sports kit, and everybody else is cheering them. It's an incredible atmosphere," he said.

"Everybody's being a little bit more polite, and smiling and saying hello to one another.

"The impact that this seems to be having on people is fantastic and to be a small part of it, is wonderful."

Packed park

The colour on the Olympic Park transformed the collection of buildings and parklands for the past two weeks - the union flag outfits and international fans decked out in Dutch orange or southern hemisphere green, gold and black.

The cheering from inside the stadia and the piped music - Sigur Ros played out in the morning sunshine or David Bowie's Heroes as athletes took gold.

At its peak, the Park was packed. There were queues for water, food and places to sit down on the grass.

As the Games moved towards the last day, it has quietened. A bit. With sports in finals mode and shorter sessions, crowds are down from the pandemonium levels seen at the height of the Games.

When competitions have finished, venues here and across London have changed to stage different events.

Handball has moved into the larger Basketball Arena.

Basketball has risen to a whole new crowd level at the North Greenwich Arena.

Greenwich Park is hosting some of the modern pentathlon pursuits now equestrianism has trotted off.

The Velodrome and BMX park are empty. In the Aquatics Centre, swimming and diving finals have given way to synchro and pentathlon swimming.

Athletics finished in the Stadium on Saturday night, leaving less than 24 hours for a set change ahead of tonight's closing ceremony.


Games organisers are starting to sell off the Olympic family silver.

Much will remain for the Paralympics, but should people want to buy Athletes' Village and venue furniture - a corner sofa with one arm, a changing station with three hooks, anyone? - pieces are available online.

"Run through the line," London 2012's Seb Coe has instructed staff, but even he has been losing his voice these last days.

Image caption The Queen and Usain Bolt are fused on Jonathan Howells's t-shirt

And the Park itself looks a touch jaded, like a house after a two-week party.

Children still jump across the coloured blob matting outside the stadium. It just could do with a pressure hose over it. Deep breaths, horticulturalists, some planting is squashed.

The Park has welcomed 2.4m visitors during the Olympics and an estimated 7.7m people have watched the Games in a venue or out on the streets.

Out for the marathon on Sunday or on the Park for the last time, they are still ordering a "Full Olympic" - live sport, events on a big screen, a trip up the Orbit tower and a chance to catch sight of Olympians being interviewed in the BBC studio.

The Howells family from Newcastle-under-Lyme are usually level-headed types - Dad Ashley is a councillor.

But like many who have gone to the Games, they are dressed head to toe in red white and blue regalia.

Red and blue non-matching sandals for mum Caroline. Felicity, 17, is in a London red bus sequinned t-shirt.

Son Jonathan, 21, wears the best "Jubilympics" t-shirt to date. It pictures the Queen's hatted head fused with Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt's celebrating body.

"It's a fantastic, absolutely brilliant atmosphere," says Caroline.

"It's totally exceeded my expectations," says Ashley. "People are being so positive."

Volunteers are elated but exhausted. Staff at the concessions stands say they were glad to be part of it, but couldn't keep it up forever.

It happens all over again in just over two weeks time for the Paralympics, starting on 29 August, if on a smaller scale.

That is the picture in the eye of the storm and it is hard to gauge the ripple across the country - although 27m ratings for the opening ceremony and 20m for the men's 100m final give some clue.

But at the centre of the Park, in the centre of the current Olympic universe, a man wraps his son in the union flag and tells him: "Right, put that on, this is it now, our very last time at the Olympics."

"What?" says his son, "What about next year?"

He tells him it will, "never happen here again in our lifetimes", perhaps taking "being honest with your children" a step too far.

The host for the 2016 Games moves into the Olympic orbit on Sunday night, and if the closing ceremony is anything to go by, if it was gold all the way in London, it will be lamé in Rio.

Where will you be watching the closing ceremony tonight? Have your views changed as a result of watching the events? What will you remember about the London 2012 games? Send us your thoughts using the form below.

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