LONDON: The success of London 2012 has proved to the world, and more importantly to Britain, that the country still has a role on the world stage but its new-found confidence must be harnessed, newspapers said on Monday.
The record-breaking display by the host athletes, the boundless enthusiasm shown by the public and volunteers and the slick running of the Games has changed the way Britain views itself, but only time will tell if it is a lasting legacy, said the country's media.
“Thanks, it's been a blast,” said the Daily Telegraph's front page, while the Guardian bade “Goodbye to the Glorious Games”.
Popular tabloid The Sun splashed “DREAM GB, We're world beaters” across its front page.
“Britain has shown the world a happy and united face, with Team GB's multicultural mix holding a mirror to a nation finding its own new voice and identity,” suggested its editorial.
“So let's be proud today. To be British is to be a winner again,” it concluded.
The Times praised a Games which were “almost dreamlike in their seamlessness and drama.”
“They have occasioned so much breathless British patriotism that the world may wonder if we were ever serious about self-deprecation, but the point is, we were.
“No one is as surprised as the hosts that this fraught and complex festival of striving should have gone so well,” it added, calling the Games a “great exhibition of competence, creativity, athleticism and sportsmanship.”
The Games ended on Sunday with a camp closing ceremony which celebrated Britain's pop music history.
“What a finale!” enthused the popular Daily Mail, saying it was the night Britain “won a gold for eccentricity”.
But as the fireworks died down, thoughts already turned towards the deeper impact of the Games on the national psyche, and whether it would be possible to capitalise upon the outpouring of good will inside and outside of the sporting arena.
“If only a fraction of the trouble and ingenuity that went into putting on these Olympics can be applied to give kids the opportunity and encouragement to do sport, then an important step will have been taken,” said the Guardian's Richard Williams.
“In the sort of graceful gesture that has confounded pessimists by turning out to be characteristic of London 2012, as the end approached this week the organisers presented each of the games makers (volunteers) with a specially engraved aluminium relay baton as a keepsake.
“Somehow the rest of us need to ensure that it is not dropped,” he urged.
The Mail's editorial said the heroic athletic performances highlighted the need for competitive sports to be reintroduced in all state schools and hinted at a brighter future for recession-hit Britain.
“While enormous challenges undoubtedly lay ahead, London 2012 has shown that, when Britain puts its mind to something, it can still deliver,” it added.
“That is not only a source of immense pride – it offers optimism that a brighter, more secure future for this country can be achieved.”
The left-leaning Guardian celebrated the ethnic diversity of Britain's gold medal heroes and suggested that their triumphs had “rescued the Union Jack from racists and royalists alike, creating a generous mood and a flag to share.”
The Telegraph said the “brilliantly organised” Games had confounded sceptics and “proved to be a wonderful advertisement for the glories of this country and its capital city” but that Britain still faced a steep road to recovery.
The broadsheet urged Britons to follow the example set by double gold medal hero Mo Farah.
“With luck, the Government will be able to tap into the residual feel-good factor from what the prime minister dubbed the Friendly Games,” said its editorial.
“Above all, though, what we must harness on a national scale are the twin components of Mo Farah's success: hard work and grafting”.