The Olympics was very special on many levels. It feels like the country is different than three weeks ago. Before we had worries, complaints, things going wrong – the usual British grumbles. But, now there is pride in sporting success, but also pride in offering a soulful and enthusiastic Olympics which offered something new and valuable to the Olympic spirit. It certainly helped GB did very well in the Olympics, but the Olympics was more than just sporting success. It was also the great organisation, the volunteers, the intensity of the support, and a generosity of spirit which helped make this truly international event a great event for those involved.
These are a few personal highlights from the past two weeks.
Bradley Wiggins Olympic Time Trial
Time trials are my sport. Nearly every week, I’m riding some kind of time trial so it was great to see your own sport showcased in the best possible way, I also got a real thrill from seeing it done at the peak of perfection. Wiggins ride was a joy to watch – 52 km/h on closed roads, I know how amazing that is. Wiggins ride was reminiscent of Cancellera’s performance of dominating the 2010 World Time trial championships in his home country of Switzerland. It wasn’t just an Olympic gold, but an opportunity to cheer the first British rider to win the Tour de France.
I always thought time trials were not a spectator sport. But, after watching Bradley Wiggins and 200,000 spectators line the streets of London, I see how the Olympics can make everything special.
Seeing the Olympic Road Race
For a few fleeting moments, I was part of those amazing Olympic crowds willing on Team GB and the other athletes. In this case, given the vagaries of road race tactics, even 1 million road side spectators couldn’t cheer Mark Cavendish onto Olympic gold, but it was still good to be part of that Olympic experience. It was worthwhile just to learn that people standing on a London roadside really can be cheerful, friendly, enthusiastic and welcoming to strangers from all other the world.
Lizze Armitstead Wins Silver.
Here was a girl from literally two miles down the road, riding to a marvellous silver place in the pouring rain.
Women’s Olympic Boxing
If anybody had asked me whether I thought women’s boxing should be in the Olympics, I would have said an unequivocal no. But, I was charmed by two Olympic boxers – Nicola Adams from, GB and Katie Taylor from Ireland. (For some reason, I was just as happy with Irish gold as British gold) There was a real style and panache to the way they boxed and conducted themselves. I loved Nicola’s post gold medal interview.
‘Yes, it really made my day’
– understatement of the games.
GB Track Cyclists
Where to start and who to single out? There are so many great performances, I don’t have time to do any justice. But, for starters – Sir Chris Hoy winning 6 gold medals, and being embraced by his hero Sir Steve Redgrave. Laura Trott winning two gold medals, and the sheer enthusiasm and joy of her post-medal Olympic interview.
more on GB Olympic track cyclists
Yorkshire Being above Australia in the Olympic medal table.
I don’t know whether it finished like that. But, for a brief moment, the tiny Republic of Yorkshire were beating the sporting powerhouse that is Australia. And it’s now immortalised. It doesn’t matter how many times we lose the Ashes now.
Simply sublime distance running.
David Rudisha’s 800 metres
First World Record in the Olympic stadium. The performance of the games.
Jessica Ennis Heptathlon
Talk about handling pressure
Tom Daley’s celebration of bronze
I’ve never understood the attraction of diving or why Tom Daley is so famous. But, it was great to see someone celebrate a bronze medal with such joy. It’s not all about winning.
Britain Win at Wimbledon
The Olympics really must help home athletes as even Andy Murray managed to win a singles final against Roger Federer.
Gary Linekar and Ian Thorpe
- priceless chemistry in the BBC Studio.
‘Look Gary, the thing is.’
In the US, the races were not shown live, but delayed to maximise TV revenues. In Australia, the free channel 9 only wanted to show Australians in the final – so there was precious little TV of the big events. North Korea only showed 15 minutes of the Olympics – though they did report N.Korea topped the Olympic medal table so that’s OK.
BBC coverage – comprehensive, total, no adverts, very professional, It really was very impressive, despite a few cringe worthy interviews with poor old athletes who didn’t get a medal. Not bad for £2.50 a week.
Vision and Legacy
The US sprinter, Michael Johnson was asked about the legacy of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. He said the 1996 Olympics was mainly about minimising losses. Thankfully, the Olympics can be more than just minimising losses.
Before the Olympics, many in Britain felt, we would have been better off spending money on government bonds to reduce the national debt – that kind of thing. Sometimes, you need vision. We’re always in debt, but how to put a price on something like the Olympics? By focusing on the idea of also leaving a valuable legacy, London have made a real contribution to the Olympic movement.
In 1948, when London last put on the Olympics, UK national debt was 180% of GDP (it is now 64% of GDP), but in the 1940s we still set up the NHS, and welfare state. There’s always a reason not to do great things. The point is that sometimes the best way to get out of difficult situation is not to retreat further into hole, but to plan for something big and positive.
Usually I can’t stand to watch the TV news or read newspapers. But, the past two weeks have been totally refreshing with bad news drowned out by inspiring athletic achievements.
In August, even the sports news can be depressing, with the start of the bickering which tends to characterise the Premiership season (and now spreading to Test cricket by all accounts)
But, the Olympics was great. Just a shame it’s only every four years.
Great Quotes of the 2012 Olympics
“There are semi-naked women playing beach volleyball in the middle of the Horse Guards Parade immortalised by Canaletto. They are glistening like wet otters and the water is splashing off the brims of the spectators’ sou’westers.”
Boris Johnson on the beach volleyball – almost Churchillian in lofty rhetoric, make that guy PM
“My wife is here and I could hear her screaming. She has got a very high-pitched voice.”
Japanese middleweight boxer Ryota Murata, after reaching the semi-finals:
- BBC presenter to Beth Tweddle’s parents: “Just tell me what you’ve been going through this past week.”
- Mr Tweddle: “I’ve been laying a patio.”
- BBC Sports Editor David Bond to Mark Cavendish after he finished 29th in the 250km race: “Was Tour de France tiredness a factor?”
- Cavendish: “Stop asking stupid questions. Do you know about cycling?”
“When baby kicks, I will breathe in and breathe out and try to calm myself down and talk to baby: ‘Behave yourself and help mummy to shoot!’”
Nur Suryani Mohamed Taibi, eight-months pregnant rifle shooter from Malaysia:
‘They are round, and made in France’
- Chris Boardman explaining the success of British track wheels to a bemused French cycling team.