The London Olympics has proved that the UK's "time has come", Prime Minister David Cameron declared as he sought to harness the global success of the Games.
As the final sporting events took place, he said a renewed national confidence would help confound the critics who suggested Britain was "down and out".
He used a Downing Street press conference to confirm that sports would continue to receive £125 million a year up to the next Games in Rio de Janeiro in a bid to emulate the record medal haul.
And he spoke alongside Lord Coe, the chair of the organising committee, who he has appointed to advise on securing the economic and sporting benefits promised for the taxpayer's investment.
"You only need two words to sum up these Games: Britain delivered," he told reporters. "We showed the world what we are made of, we reminded ourselves what we can do and we demonstrated that you should never ever count Team GB down and out.
"The lesson of these past weeks is that Britain can, and should, be ambitious. Frankly, we have got to dismiss the cynics who say we cannot do big things and prove them wrong. We in this country are going to make sure that these are not just Games that made history but the Games that helped to shape our future.
"Over the last couple of weeks we have looked in the mirror and we like what we have seen as a country," he added, saying the public had proved itself "the greatest member of Team GB".
Praising athletes, volunteers and politicians of all parties involved, he went on: "Take all of this - the attitude, the confidence - and you see what Britain is today: sure of who we are, proud of who we are. In short, not a country whose time has been but whose time has come."