I love the Olympic Stadium: the sheer majesty of the arena, and the fact that Britain has something approaching its very own sporting citadel. It stands as proof positive that the country is capable of building high-profile arenas on time, and on budget, after the shambles that was, and is, Wembley Stadium.
I love the sense of reverence you can feel from people as they make their way to the stadium. An intangible feeling of being part of something that is bigger than themselves.
I love the piquant aroma of positivity that seems to emerge from the place, like a perfume counter, making all that are in it feel a little more optimistic about life.
In writing this article, I am breaking a promise to myself not to wade into the trial of Oscar Pistorius. It is not the case itself that I wish to address, moreover the saddening way in which the trial has ceased to become about the justice system in South Africa, and has devolved into a soap opera for our entertainment.
In the dock | Paralympian Oscar Pistorius stands in court facing the charge of premeditated murder in Pretoria, South Africa. (Image | The People)
This was demonstrated when the presiding magistrate, Desmond Nair, granted Pistorius bail. However, before doing so, he explained at length his reasons behind his decision, which took almost two hours.
A flurry of tweets followed, mocking Nair for how long he was taking to reveal whether or not Pistorius would be granted bail. The subtext of these tweets was simple: “We’re bored. Skip to the end. Are you going to grant bail or not?”
People love stories, particularly tales of greatness, and a major reason as to why the London 2012 Olympic Games held such thrall in Britain was the daily accounts of athletes finding the best of themselves.
Enn-chanting | Jessica Ennis storms to first place in the 200m, part of her heptathlon triumph at the London 2012 Olympic Games. (Image | Evening Standard)
We had yarns of the woman who grabbed her last chance of glory, Katherine Grainger; the chosen one adored by her public, Jessica Ennis; or the wounded king that ruthlessly crushed those who would usurp him, Usain Bolt. They were the legends of our time, not just athletes.
UK Sport, the body that allocates funding for elite British athletes, announced an increase of 11% for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games compared to the amount pledged for London 2012 earlier this month.
Going up | Dressage rider Charlotte Dujardin, a double gold medal winner in London, will benefit from an increase in funding for equestrian. (Image | The Telegraph)
Certain sports, such as cycling, athletics and equestrian have had their budgets boosted in order to nurture further success in Brazil.
This change appears to be aimed at rewarding the disciplines that were predominant in the capital this summer.
Tough call | The line up for BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2012 could look rather like an early release of the New Year’s honours list. (Image | BBC)
Normally there is a shoe-in for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award. Either that, or a dark horse is chosen once in a blue moon, as Ryan Giggs was back in 2009. By definition, the award recognises the sportsperson “whose actions have most captured the public’s imagination”. Created back in 1954, the titular category has rewarded figures from the world of athletics more than any other discipline, with 17 individuals selected in first place having been athletes.
With Team GB having excelled in a variety of areas across the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, this is likely to continue. However, the success of individuals from the home nations leaves what Premier League managers would describe as a “headache”, a conundrum. It is a rather nice problem to have, it must be said.
“Official and souvenir programmes…” | For the past month and a half, I have been selling programmes predominantly inside the Olympic Park. (Image | Metro)
On Monday London 2012 came to an end with another outpouring of support, exhilaration and sheer joy at the achievements of Britain’s Olympic and Paralympic athletes on the victory parade, which stretched across London from Mansion House to The Mall, for many culminating at Trafalgar Square. With the eyes of Admiral Horatio Nelson fixed upon the thousands gathered in the streets, on pavements, within glass buildings lining The Strand and even on rooftops, the country celebrated its greatest ever team.
This is no longer an advertising slogan. At the start some may have been suspicious of the hype. Naysayers and doom-mongerers predicted that the Games would be a disaster.
A golden occasion | While Team GB set the nation’s sporting passions aflame, the effect of the London 2012 Olympic Games went far beyond the Olympic Park. (Image | Radio Times)
After the wondrous Olympic Games in London, I expect to already be preaching to the congregation with this piece. However, what has happened in Britain over the past few weeks ought to be repeated. This is despite the fact that for so long, the prospect of the greatest show on Earth reaching these shores was met with indifference.
The pessimism and apathy had begun to dissipate as the opening ceremony drew closer. Then a political gaffe from Mitt Romney only expedited this, failing to realise that like one’s family members, you can listen to the complaints, but under no circumstances join in. It almost makes me want to see him become America’s next president simply in order to observe the manner in which any future visit to Downing Street would pan out. The country still approached the beginning of the Games with a tangible sense of trepidation. Everyone had witnessed China host a stunning, albeit somewhat clinical, opening in 2008. So how would Britain compare?
Best of enemies | Anna Meares versus Victoria Pendleton was a highlight of London 2012’s great sporting rivalries. (Image | Daily Mail)
We have witnessed a number of extraordinary accomplishments at the London 2012 Olympic Games. In the lead up to the Games, however, there were few events I wished to see more than the culmination of one of the most enthralling sporting rivalries for a generation: Victoria Pendleton facing Anna Meares.
While Pendleton could claim first blood, after taking gold in the keirin, the focus would rightly be on the women’s sprint, which took place on the final day of action in the Velodrome.
Pendleton’s gold in the keirin was an unexpected success. Meares led going into the final lap, but Pendleton timed her move perfectly, taking the lead and maintaining it as she crossed the finish line.
Blink and you’ll miss it | Usain Bolt clearly had a point to prove when he won both the 100m and 200m at the London 2012 Olympic Games. (Image | TalkSPORT)
As Usain Bolt crossed the line in first in the 200m, cementing his status as the greatest sprinter of all time, the doubts and whispers about him and his chances disappeared into the London ether. Bolt, however, didn’t forget these. It must be said that, prior to the London 2012 Olympic Games, he had hardly enjoyed a successful season.
The 25-year-old began by running a slow (for him) 10.04 seconds in the a 100m meet at Ostrava, before being defeated in both the 100m and 200m by team mate and friend Yohan Blake at the Jamaican trials. Bolt has often mentioned that Blake trains harder than him, hence his moniker, “the beast”. Following Bolt’s epochal success in Beijing four years ago, had he taken his eye off the ball? Was there someone ready to make a Henry Bolingbroke style claim for Bolt’s throne?
“I’m sorry I didn’t win” – Team GB is, by its very nature, carrying the sporting hopes and dreams of the nation on the shoulders of its 500 plus athletes, but Rebecca Adlington’s apology for her bronze in the first week was wholly unnecessary. (Image | Huffington Post)
“Sorry seems to be the hardest word“. Not for Team GB, it seems. Along with the raucous sound of the crowds across the Olympic venues, London has been treated to a succession of apologies from its competitors at the Games, all of whom, under extreme pressure and the weight of expectation that they have never experienced before, feel they almost “owe” the nation a gold medal.
It has reached the stage where few would have been surprised to hear Tom Daley, Olympic poster boy and marketers’ dream, apologise for bringing home the bronze medal last night. As it was, the 18-year-old frolicked around in the pool with his coaches and trainers after narrowly surrendering first place to America’s David Boudia and China’s Qiu Bo courtesy of a lower tariff dive than the respective gold and silver medal winners.