Paris – Jacques Rogge enters his final days as president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) having firmly imposed his 'Mr Normal' image on the movement.
The 71-year-old Belgian has adopted the same precision he learnt when he qualified as an orthopaedic surgeon in removing the extravagances of the previous era under Spaniard Juan Antonio Samaranch, who he replaced when the former Franco era diplomat stepped down in 2001.
While there is nothing flamboyant about the bookish, quietly-spoken and cultivated Belgian, he was the natural choice to replace Samaranch at the election in Moscow in 2001.
Coming in the wake of the Salt Lake City 'votes for gifts' scandal which had rocked the movement and seen several members expelled the IOC was in desperate need of a pair of safe and clean hands.
Thus it was that Rogge polled higher than his principal opponents Canadian lawyer Dick Pound and the scandal-tainted Kim Un-Yong who had received a serious warning in the fall out of the Salt Lake City scandal.
“A heavyweight has been elected,” opined Samaranch at the time.
Rogge told the Chicago Tribune on his election that his love of a particular type of art resembled his character.
“I categorise things. My medical skills are like that. Abstract art is all about shapes and sizes you can categorise. It's like being a pilot with a checklist. I am abstract, but not romantic,” said Rogge.
Rogge did add he adored Cubist art but abstract was more within his financial capabilities and since then his presidency has reflected that, a tightly-run ship – appropriate for a three-time Olympic sailor.
His brain child the Youth Olympic Games has been born, rugby and golf have been voted back into the Games (2016) and women's boxing was one of the standout successes at what was also considered one of the best Games of all time in London.
He said there are other things he will leave behind when he steps down that he can feel proud about.
“Normally with regards to legacy you only speak about that when people die,” he told AFP last year.
“I didn't take the mandate up to leave a legacy and historians can write about that in 20 years time if they so wish. However, I took up the baton of Samaranch and I believe I will leave behind some notable successes.
“The quality of the Olympic Games under my presidency have been very well organised, the Youth Olympic Games has been a very great success.
“I have fought against doping and illegal betting and I will leave with the financial revenue in a very strong state.
“This (money) is not a good thing necessarily and not the essence of what we are about but without money you cannot cook.”
This dry humour reveals another side – not often revealed in public but evident to those who have spent time with him – and humour at his own expense is never too far away.
“I was a ringside doctor for five years,” he told AFP in 2009.
“I was young, my shirt would often be spattered with blood as I was closest to the bout. I would come home with my shirt spattered in blood and my wife would say to me 'you clean it'.”
Not that everything has been rosy for him, he was competing against an Israeli yachtsman the day that 11 of his opponents, fellow athletes and coaches were murdered by the Black September terror group at the 1972 Olympics .
Last year in London he displayed his usual sound diplomatic tack by refusing emotional calls to hold a minute's silence at the opening ceremony of the London Games to mark the 40th anniversary but paid his own homage of a minute's silence, a few days before the opening, in front of the Olympic Truce Wall in the Athletes Village .
Under his own presidency death has struck the Games.
Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili died in a practice run prior to the 2010 Vancouver Games and it produced a rare moment of public emotion as he brushed aside tears in giving his tribute to the young athlete.
Rogge's favourite book is the French classic 'The Little Prince' by Antoine de Saint-Exupery and when all is said and done, and the curtain comes down on his final test, the London Games, he will reflect more on some lines from that book.
“Then you shall judge yourself,” the king answered (to the Little Prince).
“That is the most difficult thing of all. It is much more difficult to judge oneself than to judge others. If you succeed in judging yourself rightly, then you are indeed a man of true wisdom.” – Sapa-AFP