Athletes praise Games as best ever
Olympic athletes have praised the London Games as the best ever - as the Mayor of London admitted he struggled to hand back the Olympic flag.
As thousands of fans and sports stars made their way home they applauded Games organisers and volunteers for putting on a show that was the envy of the world.
Flying home to California, water polo gold winner Tumua Anae, 23, said: "The Games were awesome. The people were so good to us. All the volunteers were so friendly and gave us a lot of support. I have to say to Britain - you guys did a great job."
Dutch hockey gold medallist Kim Lammers said: "The volunteers were so great. Everything was so good. The crowd was good and also during our match against GB they were screaming for everybody and it was great. Everything was perfect."
As the compliments poured in, London Mayor Boris Johnson - who is riding high in popular opinion for his role in the Games - said he had a "momentary mad desire" to refuse to give the Olympic flag back to International Olympic Committee boss Jacques Rogge.
He said: "If you were to say to me that we have just held the greatest Games ever in Britain, I would say you are on the right track."
He added: "But I suppose there are two emotions - one is obviously some sadness that it is all over, because it's been an amazing experience, but also a great relief because there is no doubt it has been a prodigious exertion by London and by Londoners." He added the Games was "the most extraordinary event we can remember in our lifetimes and which we will remember for the rest of our lives".
Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt agreed, saying: "This has been two weeks when Britain didn't just surprise the world but surprised itself."
Meanwhile, the armed forces could take two years to recover from the extra deployment of troops for the Olympics, a senior officer has claimed.
In a warning to politicians anxious to cut the size and cost of the military, Wing Commander Peter Daulby also said the Games showed the need for armed forces large enough to respond to emergency requirements. Wing Cdr Daulby, who was in charge of the military's Olympics planning, said: "It just shows you the dangers of pulling the military down."