LONDON, England (AFP) — Sebastian Coe hailed the "extraordinary journey" in turning the London Olympics into reality — and said he was proud his team had stuck to the pledges they made when they won the bid in 2005.
"We made five promises with the bid, among them to place athletes at the centre of the project, to create a magical atmosphere, to inspire the youth of the world and to leave a lasting legacy," the two-time Olympic champion said on Tuesday.
"It has been an extraordinary journey over seven years. But those promises were a permanent signpost and a wayfinder.
"I've lost count of the amount of times we thought we were hitting a brick wall at meetings and then a voice has said 'let's stick to our promises from the bid.'"
Denis Oswald, the International Olympic Committee member in charge of the Co-ordination Commission, was fulsome in his praise for the manner in which the bid had developed despite the obvious hitches along the way.
"This is a very emotional moment for it is almost the end of a long journey," said the Swiss.
"There have been of course some rocks and some hurdles along the way but even if we are not over the finishing line quite yet, it has been a splendid journey."
Coe, who won gold in the 1,500m at the 1980 and 1984 Olympics, said that from the off he decided a successful Games could only stem from one based round the athletes' interests.
"If you get that right then you create a template," said Coe, 55, who was accompanied by several of the Olympians who were in Singapore to support the bid team when London beat Paris to host the Games.
"Then when you take that line you have to nail transport, venues, create a village that becomes the home and sanctuary for the athletes."
He cited the creation of an Athletes Committee, which was made up of people who had competed at 22 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
"They've informed us and shaped our views on transport, training and diet."