LONDON (AFP) – London prepared to bid a triumphant farewell to the Olympics Sunday as the curtain came down on its widely acclaimed staging of the global sporting spectacular.
A star-studded closing ceremony got under way in front of 80,000 spectators, packed into the Olympic Stadium to crown an event hailed by International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge as a “dream for sports lovers.”
“I am a very happy and grateful man,” Rogge told reporters ahead of Sunday’s ceremony. “London promised an athletes’ Games and that’s exactly what we got.”
Artists scheduled to perform in Sunday’s ceremony included the Spice Girls, George Michael and Muse in a show featuring a cast of more than 4,000.
Prime Minister David Cameron meanwhile said Britain’s staging of the Games had “shown the world what we’re made of.”
“We reminded ourselves what we can do and, yes, we demonstrated that you should never ever count Team GB down and out,” Cameron said, referring to the success of British athletes, who enjoyed their best performance for 104 years.
Cameron said the Games had reflected the best of Britain’s multicultural make-up, taking the example of Mo Farah, the winner of the men’s 10,000 title who went on to claim gold in the 5,000m on Saturday.
Farah came to Britain as a refugee aged eight after spending his early years in Somalia and Djibouti.
“It’s a Britain where a boy born in Somalia, Mo Farah, can come here, seize opportunities, and run his way into the nation’s heart,” Cameron said.
“It’s a Britain where we cheer ourselves hoarse not just for Team GB but for Team Jamaica or, as people have just done on the Mall, Team Uganda,” he added, referring to the winner of Sunday’s men’s marathon Stephen Kiprotich.
“Over the past couple of weeks, we have looked in the mirror and we like what we have seen as a country,” he said.
The final day of sport saw 15 medals decided, with the United States’ Dream Team wrapping up victory over Spain in the basketball final as the Americans cemented their place on top of the medal table ahead of China.
Britain finished third in the standings.
The last day of the Games started in traditional style with the men’s marathon, with Kiprotich delivering only Uganda’s second ever Olympic gold medal in a race that finished in the shadow of Buckingham Palace.
Kiprotich timed 2hr 08min 01sec on the spectacular course around the streets of central London, with two-time defending world champion Abel Kirui claiming silver in 2:08.27.
Anthony Joshua handed Britain the perfect end to the Olympic boxing tournament with his super heavyweight triumph to win Britain’s 29th gold.
Joshua’s gold came amid drama as he clawed back a three-point deficit going into the third round against defending champion Roberto Cammarelle to level the bout at 18-all before being awarded the contest on countback — the decision standing up on appeal.
Ukraine’s lightweight world champion Vasyl Lomachenko won a second successive Olympic gold medal when he added the lightweight title to the featherweight crown he captured in Beijing four years ago.
Teenager Robeisy Ramirez joined the long list of Cuban Olympic ring kings with a victory in the flyweight final over Mongolia’s Tugstsogt Nyambayar.
“The moment I heard I won I fell on the floor because it was overwhelming. I am 18 years old and I am already an Olympic champion,” said the teenager.
“I am becoming part of my country’s history along with past Cuban champions.”