David OwenA generation ago you could not be sure you had "arrived" in British public life until Spitting Image had gone to the trouble of making and broadcasting your puppet effigy.

In today's more democratic media age, the best public figures can hope for is a spoof Twitter account.

So the fact that Andy Hunt is the first chief executive in the long and distinguished history of the British Olympic Association (BOA) to be satirised in this way is, in some respects, a badge of honour.

I doubt that Hunt much cared for the excitable 140-character bulletins fired off by his digital alter ego Randy Shunt.

But actually, the relentlessly upbeat business jargon in which Shunt expressed himself, besides being an accurate enough parody to raise a smile, highlights an important quality that Hunt, who is leaving after four years, brought to the organisation at a key point in its history.

Randy Shunt pageRandy Shunt was a spoof Twitter account that satirised BOA chief executive Andy Hunt

I suppose I would describe this as an unwavering but carefully-targeted sense of urgency.

Cocooned in its Wandsworth rabbit-warren, the BOA had made a perfectly good fist over many years of looking after British athletes at successive Olympic Games.

At Beijing in 2008, I would even describe its performance as excellent.

But London 2012 confronted it with a new challenge - a challenge it could not afford to fail.

This was to organise and service the biggest British team in living memory during the most important weeks of their sporting lives - and to do so under an unremitting, often nit-picking, media spotlight.

To succeed in this task as well as it did, the BOA first needed unquenchable self-belief.

But it also had to devise and implement a carefully-calibrated plan to upscale and then downsize in synch with the waxing and waning of its one-off, London 2012-related responsibilities.

The plan's calibration had to be all the more precise because of the organisation's drumskin-tight finances and the severity of the restrictions on ways it could augment income in an effort to cover inevitably increased costs.

The final verdict should await publication of the BOA's 2012 accounts.

But the fact that Hunt appears to have overseen this process while touching off no bigger crisis than a running gag about Team GB scarves, in spite of all manner of political noises-off in the background, is very much to his credit.

Andy Hunt in front of Team GB sign at London officeUnder Andy Hunt the BOA became a much more professional organisation

I have no doubt that Hunt was genuinely surprised by the extent to which his freedom of commercial manoeuvre was circumscribed.

Hence that colourful description of the Joint Marketing Programme Agreement with the  London 2012 organising committee which made it sound like a cross between a Harry Houdini act and a high security prison.

But he proved exceptionally tenacious in identifying and executing other money-raising strategems.

And he did not let his frustrations on this score cloud his organisational judgement.

When I spoke to him this week, Hunt characterised the core function of his management career as trying to "professionalise organisations".

The branch of the BOA's operations upon which I am best qualified to pass judgement is the communications and media arm.

This, I can tell you, has been thoroughly transformed over the past three or four years, and very much for the better.

We still talk a lot about legacy in the Olympic Movement.

You could say, though, that Hunt would have done the best job if his legacy was absolutely nothing - if the BOA went back to the way it was - and the size it was - before it had to rise to its once-in-a-lifetime task of chaperoning unwonted squadrons of footballers, handballers and even a lone freestyle wrestler, at a UK-hosted Games.

I don't believe this will be altogether the case, however.

While I wonder how long the organisation will stay at its swish, largely open-plan Charlotte Street base, well-suited as it was to the media hotbed of London 2012, I think the business-like, bottom-line-oriented drive that Hunt instilled will linger a while yet.

Andy Hunt with David CameronAndy Hunt, pictured with Prime Minister David Cameron, was Chef de Mission of the most successful British Olympic team for more than a century

Frankly, the BOA cannot afford for it to be otherwise.

So farewell then Andy Hunt.

You weren't everyone's cup of tea, I think it is fair to say, and the strange, sometimes petty, ways of the sports business appeared, especially in the early days, to exasperate you.

But some of the feathers you ruffled needed ruffling and, when all is said and done, the financially fragile body you have been managing has staggered through a challenge that might have overwhelmed it, while fulfilling the tasks required of it with as much distinction as the other main cogs in the slickly-oiled London 2012 machine.

Keith's mum wishes you well.

David Owen worked for 20 years for the Financial Times in the United States, Canada, France and the UK. He ended his FT career as sports editor after the 2006 World Cup and is now freelancing, including covering the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the 2010 World Cup and London 2012. Owen's Twitter feed can be accessed by clicking here.