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London 2012
On a day which saw the closing ceremony of the London Olympics and a final medal table with Great Britain in third place with a massive 29 gold medals, there has to be some irony at least that this page is devoted to the success of a participant nation which sent only a few dozen sportsmen and women to compete in the many events there.

Everybody knows there are more important things than sport, yet so few people can find things which make so many people happy and proud on such a scale. For what other than a national sporting success do people pack the streets cheering with flags in their hundreds or thousands? Even the ending of war, which is just about the most significantly happy event known to mankind, fails to mobilise national sentiments on such a massive scale. It should, but it doesn’t.

Seven gold medals is phenomenal. It puts Kazakhstan on the world sporting map, in the headlines and its champions onto the list of household names. For two weeks, people across the world will have seen this unfairly-maligned nation rise proudly and shine in front of billions of viewers who will until July 2012 either have known nothing about it, or sadly, had their prejudice tweaked by a certain film we care not to name.

We even topped the medal table briefly after Alexandre Vinokourov’s stunning victory in the road race, an early win consolidated by the two golden girls in the weightlifting hall when the second Russian stepped up to lift her own way to gold. Then came the defending champion Ilya Ilyin who won with such ease it will do wonders for sales of horse meat. Then came the women’s triple jump and finally the boxing to complete the golden picture. And each time the news came home, we all got prouder.

The number of lesser medals won are also to be celebrated, although for a week or so we enjoyed the fact we’d only won golds. This was fun, but bronzes and silvers are also part of the success and part of the inspiration inevitable… for every gold medal there are ten thousand kids who then want to win one. Let’s hope the success of our heroes becomes a foundation so that this amazing fortnight does not show up in the history books as a mere one-off.