Athletes fly home as flame goes out




Thousands of Olympic athletes and spectators were heading home today after the London 2012 Games ended with a triumphant bang.

A world-wide audience was treated to a spectacular celebration of British music during the closing ceremony last night before the flame was extinguished to officially close the curtain on one of the most memorable sporting extravaganzas of recent times.

The skies above the Olympic Stadium were then lit up by a glittering firework display as the arena’s packed stands joined in with a rousing rendition of The Who’s My Generation.

As International Olympic Committee boss Jacques Rogge declared the 2012 Olympics closed, he said: “These were happy and glorious Games.

“We will never forget the smiles, the kindness and the support of the wonderful volunteers, the much-needed heroes of these Games.

“You, the spectators and the public, provided the soundtrack for these Games. Your enthusiastic cheers energised the competitors and brought a festive spirit to every Olympic venue.

“You have shown the world the best of British hospitality.”

London 2012 chairman Lord Coe said: “On the first day of these Games I said we were determined to do it right. I said that these Games would see the best of us.

“On this last day I can conclude with these words: When our time came, Britain, we did it right. Thank you.”

Describing the 17-day event as “a wonderful Games in a wonderful city”, he added: “We lit the flame and lit up the world.”

In a guide to the ceremony, Prince Harry, who attended with the Duchess of Cambridge, said London 2012 had been an “extraordinary” event which had touched people’s hearts and captured their imaginations.

US president Barack Obama echoed that view, calling David Cameron to “congratulate him and the people of the United Kingdom and London on an extremely successful Olympic Games”, the White House said.

Many of the 10,000 sportsmen and women who competed in the Games are leaving the Olympic Village and heading to London’s airports to return to their home nations.

The majority joined last night’s final hurrah to celebrate their achievements, parading through the 80,000-seater stadium and taking with them their own memories of a Games which has been universally acclaimed.

As the world bade farewell to London, the host city gave the concert of a lifetime, marking the end of British sport’s most successful Olympic Games in more than a century which saw a final medal tally of 64 – 29 golds, 16 silvers and 19 bronze.

Some of the biggest names in British pop past and present, including the Spice Girls, Take That, Queen and Madness, performed during a night of thrilling British eccentricity which culminated with a glimpse of the carnival that awaits in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

A final theatrical flourish saw a flaming phoenix rise above the Olympic cauldron while ballerina Darcey Bussell flew from the roof.

The 204 petals of the Olympic cauldron then descended to the ground and the flame was extinguished, signalling the close of the 30th Olympiad.

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