It’s fair to say that this year’s summer of sport has far exceeded our expectations. For all the seemingly negative build-up, the Games delivered in a way we dreamt of, and possibly more. David Cameron has suggested that 2012 will be remembered in History alongside 1966. I’m not the biggest fan of people predicting historical significance, but I think the Prime Minister’s comments were not too risky- London 2012 will go down in History, but for what? For demonstrating what Britain is capable of? For the highest Great British total ever? Or for particular individuals and their achievements?
Now that the closing ceremony of the Paralympics has passed, and the dust has settled, what exactly will be remembered? Admittedly speaking a little ignorantly (I did spend all of the Olympics and the start of the Paralympics abroad after all whilst my friends & family actually went!), here’s my top ten moments that I think will last the course of history (having compiled it, I don’t envy the job of the judging panel for BBC’s Sport’s Personality of the Year!)
First, some honourable mentions for some who didn’t make the top ten:
Nicola Adams- the first ever female boxer to win a gold medal, that is groundbreaking, and perhaps worthy of a place on the top ten list, but she just misses out to perhaps more “well-known” moments & with a view to who will be remembered in the future, although I am prepared to eat humble pie on this one!
Michael Phelps- what… he isn’t on your list? No, he isn’t. He may be the most decorated Olympian of all time after London 2012, but he wasn’t the awesome Phelps we had perhaps expected. He wasn’t as dominant, as Ryan “I pee in the pool” Lochte proved, and from a British point of view, not as memorable.
ADDITIONAL MENTION- A few people have commented that I should have included the Torch relay, and I think they’re right. It was the unofficial beginning of the Olympic for many British people. I’d listen to the Chris Moyles Show on my way to work (alas, farewell Chris & the team!) and everyday they’d talk about the relay and where it was going that day. “Torch Cam” on the BBC was bizarrely addictive, and even though I was at work at the time, to see the Olympic flame, that had come from Athens, go through Calne and even past my house on its way to the Stadium, really was quite magical.
And one very dishonourable mention- the Asian badminton players who deliberately tried to lose their final group games in order to gain a more favourable draw in the next round. It was truly disgraceful, and I applaud the relevant authorities for taking such firm action so swiftly.
And so, the top ten…
10- I managed to catch some of Gemma Gibbons’ amazing result whilst I was in Vancouver, eating some Fish & Chips before meeting with an old friend who had moved out there. She was virtually a wildcard, causing upset after upset. Her semi-final ‘extra time’ victory was captivating, and although she ultimately fell at the final hurdle, her silver medal was a great underdog story.
9- Andy Murray‘s Olympic Gold was significant for many reasons, and after the events of this last week “state-side”, you could argue it should be higher on my list. After his loss at Wimbledon, people wouldn’t have been surprised if Murray had struggled to motivate himself for the Games. Yet his resilience and character were clearly on display as he won two medals, most notably the Gold medal in the Men’s singles, gaining revenge on Roger Federer for that Wimbledon defeat in the process. Having won the US Open this week (ending a 76 year wait for a British male singles major winner in the process), Murray proved he is worthy of the “big 4” status, and in the build up to the final, said the Olympics gave him the motivation and belief needed for victory. What next for Murray? Many expect there to be more Grand Slams, but ultimately he stays at 9 as the list is looking at what will be remember about the Olympics, not necessarily the significance of each event.
8- I’m not going to pretend I know much about sailing. My speedboat experience in the summer on Lake Tahoe is as close as I can get! But Ben Ainslie’s success at Weymouth, becoming the most decorated sailor in Olympic history, should not be overlooked. When you become the undisputed greatest in your sport, you’ve truly made history.
7- The Opening Ceremony was kept tightly under wraps, and you could argue that it’s hard to remember previous opening ceremonies from countries such as China, Australia or Greece. But I think it was of significance. My Facebook timeline was dominated by friends back home whilst I was in Canada who talked about the events of that night. It was spectacular, it captivated a nation’s attention, and demonstrated to the world that Britain was ready to celebrate, ready to perform, and even had a sense of humour. Bond & the Queen, the NHS & welfare reform, even Mr. Bean made it an unforgettable evening.
6- The favourite to win the SPOTY later this year, Bradley Wiggins has had a remarkable year. The first Britain to win the Tour De France, his Gold in the time trial (smashing all other competitor’s times) was a crowning moment (literally- his Gold medal ceremony did involve a throne after all!). It was a great moment for British sport, but his earlier victory in France was arguably more significant, and so Wiggins’ place in the top ten is lower than some may have expected.
5- Jessica Ennis is the golden girl of the Games. She was the face, the female figurehead and as a result had to deal with a lot of pressure, both to perform in her events and to be an Ambassador to a nation watching. She will be/has been used by countless teachers across the country as an example of the reward of hard work and focused analysis. Her victory was comprehensive- she finished a whopping 306 points ahead of her nearest rival, setting a series of personal bests along the way as well as breaking heptathlon records. Seeing her overtake her rivals as she came round the final bend of the 800m was a fairytale ending to her Olympics, and whenever London 2012 is mentioned, her face will appear. She only fails to make it any higher due to the records broken and the historical significance of those above her.
4- David Weir is one of the few Olympic moments I actually managed to see bits of live. His achievements are remarkable- to win four golds in one Paralympics, in the events that he did, was remarkable. Other events may overshadow his achievements in the years to come, but his efforts should be recognised, not only for triumphing over adversity, but for dominating the field so impressively.
3- It was a tragedy that a new ruling meant that cyclists could only represent their country in only a single event. The Great British cycling team could all be involved in nearly any of the events, and none more so than Sir Chris Hoy. Despite his advancing years, he was supreme, and by winning the Keirin he became the most successful British Olympian in History. Some would argue therefore that he should be number one, but that would be biased. Nevertheless, his hard work & humility make his victory all the more admirable.
2- So why does Mo Farah beat Sir Chris Hoy? It’s not just for the “Mobot” celebration! To win both the 10 and 5K in the manner he did was simply an amazing moment to watch. If you haven’t yet seen it, you should watch how the commentators reacted when he crossed the line. This will show you just how significant it was. He’s become a global icon and inspired those less fortunate than many of us, a true hero.
1- Ok, at this point I want to admit two things. Firstly, yes this list has had a very “British” feel to it (any international readers, particularly those from the US are probably outraged at Michael Phelps’ admission from the top ten!) But bear in mind my comment about how London 2012 will be remembered alongside 1966- so the British theme is justified. That being said, my winner isn’t British, and this leads to my second confession- it’s fairly predictable. Usain Bolt simply has to be top of the list. To achieve 100 & 200m gold in two consecutive Olympics is a staggering achievement. He may not have broken records this time around, but when people were beginning to write him off, he answered them in style- a style that only Bolt can get away with. He will go down in history for both his speed & his silliness, and it’s very hard for anyone not to love him for that!
So there we have it- my moments of history from 2012- why not relive some great moments via the BBC, or comment underneath if you disagree!