If the Olympic buzzword is legacy, the most glorious proceeds of the Games can already be spotted in museums.
© Courtesy Horsham Museum
Rita, the boat Ben Ainslie sailed to a superhuman fourth gold medal, has just returned to the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth, which has been its regular home when the Finn hasn’t been helping Ainslie win three of his medals (Athens and Beijing were its destinations before London).
“We are so proud, and still a little hoarse from screaming at the TV,” says Ben Lumby, the Exhibitions Manager at the museum.
“We streamed all the Olympic action on the water in our lecture theatre and there were times when I thought the roof was going to lift off – the passion of support was incredible.
“We’re here to celebrate the sea, boats and Cornwall, and what better story to tell than that of Ben and Rita?
“Having Rita back home completes Ben’s Olympic Gold medal winning story and we know our visitors will be delighted to see and touch his medal winning boats.
“We’re also thinking of installing a golden post box for visitors to leave their messages for Ben – and we’ll ensure he gets them all.”
The star of the sea will be on show until the end of the year, when it will be suspended in the existing flotilla of flying boats.
Along the coast, in Sussex, the Horsham Museum has been given the flag of Grenada, signed by all the athletes from the team who trained at nearby Broadbridge Heath.
They include Kirani James, who struck gold in the 400 metres, and his coach, Harvey Glance. The High Commissioner for Grenada has already visited during a recent tour of the town.
There are a few subplots to be found – more than 200 years ago, officials in Horsham actively campaigned for the abolition of slavery in the Caribbean, and the town was known to have connections with the region during the 18th century, including the employment of a Caribbean free slave who reputedly cooked turtle soup for the owner of the local Park House.
The flag joins items in the permanent collection including artefacts from the 1912 Stockholm games, a victor’s wreath and costume worn by Water Polo Olympic gold medallist and former Horsham pub owner Arthur Hill.
There are also belongings once owned by Alfred Shrubb, a brilliant Horsham athlete who was denied entry to the games a century ago by adjudicators who accused him of being professional.