By Duncan Mackay

Paul Deighton in front of Olympic ringsJanuary 1 - Paul Deighton has admitted that even he was surprised by the power of the Olympics after officially leaving his role as chief executive at London 2012 to take up his new position with the Government. 

The 56-year-old former Goldman Sachs banker ended his seven-year spell as chief executive of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) yesterday and is due to begin his new role as Commercial Secretary to the Treasury on Thursday (January 3).

Deighton was appointed to the junior Ministry position by British Prime Minister David Cameron in September following his highly-acclaimed stewardship of London 2012 and was made a Lord so he could take up the position.

As the main money man behind London 2012, Deighton helped to spearhead the plans to raise £2 billion ($3 billion/€2.5 billion) from the private sector to stage the Games.

But Deighton, who received a knighthood in the Queen's New Years Honours List, admitted that the best memory he will take away from time at London 2012 was the sheer appeal and magic of the Olympics to so many people. 

"The thing that surprised me most was, from the beginning, people told me about the notional appeal of the Olympic Games, its ability to inspire people," he told insidethegames shortly before leaving his role at London 2012. 

"I understood that intellectually at the beginning but it was only since we began our journey through these seven years that I realised just how powerful it really is and just how much support for the project and what we were trying to do, we garnered by opening up to as many people as we possibly could at the earliest possible stage.

Paul Deighton with Olympic flamePaul Deighton arrives back in Britain  from Athens in May carrying the Olympic Flame

"There are the traditional ways of getting people involved, the success of our Games Makers obviously, people buying tickets, the Torch Relay.

"I remember the first morning of the Torch Relay in Cornwall going around the corner in the first town, and seeing tens of thousands of people on the street.

"For me, just the power of that and really understanding it was the biggest surprise to me and all the things I would have done differently are really all about capturing and magnifying and taking advantage of that emotional power on many more occasions because you just have a wonderful magic dust in your hands for seven years and you can sprinkle it in a way that just produces extraordinary results."

Deighton's first role will be to undertake an assessment of the Government's ability to deliver major infrastructure projects.

A National Infrastructure Plan: update 2012 report, published last month, said that the Government will strengthen the mandate of infrastructure UK and, working with an enhanced Major Projects Authority, will assess Whitehall's ability to deliver infrastructure.

The assessment is due to be completed by March 20, the date of the next budget, and Deighton will work closely with Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, in compiling his report.

Paul Deighton at House of LordsPaul Deighton officially took up his position in the House of Lords in November

Now that Deighton has left Sebastian Coe will combine his role as chairman of London 2012 with leading LOCOG in the final few months before it is officially wound up and will be assisted by the remaining directors at finance, legal, communications and human resources.

There are two more London 2012 Board meetings due to be held, with the last one in May.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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