|London Olympics 2012|
"Citius, Altius, Fortius" - Faster, Higher, Stronger.
London Olympic and Paralympic Games Introduction
Start Date: 25th July 2012 29th August 2012
Opening Ceremony: 27th July 2012
Closing Date: 12th August 2012 9th September 2012
Closing Ceremony: 12th August 2012
NEW! Daily Olympics Blog
WelcomeTo our Daily Olympics Blog!
Each day, we will be rounding up the days events, bringing you the big news and analysis. You will be able to find here stories that encapsulate the London Olympic Games, the ones that will go down as the defining moments of 2012. While there will be a lot of focus on those taking gold, we will also cover stories of other athletes that may not bring medals, but help to define the Olympics.
We will also offer a different and unique perspective on each day of the games, beyond the usual results summary. You will find posts on everything from iconic sporting moments, to spectator highlights, funny moments and heroic human efforts.
Of course, there will be stories and insight into the training, fitness and nutrition involved in the London Olympics. We shall focus on some interesting and key fitness aspects of the Games that will prove useful lessons and tips to put into practice in your own training and competition.
Every sport will be covered across the three weeks, with comments on most sports on the days that they take place. As the games unfold, we shall look at athlete's form, shock results, dead certain winners and bring you our predictions of who will ultimately take the gold medals.
Each day where medals are awarded, there will be a summary of who won what. We will also update each sports section with the new Olympic Champions, so you can review who has achieved success so far.
If you want to take a look back at each day of the Games, just click on the day you want to read about at the top scroll bar, or use the arrows to flick through and browse the Blogs and see how the London Olympics unfolded.
We hope you enjoy our Olympics Blog, and enjoy a spectacular London Olympic Games!
Four years ago, when Usain Bolt left the world breathless by smashing the world record in the Men's 100m, there was only ever going to be one main event today. With Bolt's false start in last years world championships and his apparent drop in form this year, the excitement, rumour and expectation going into the Blue Ribboned event of London 2012 had only increased dramatically.
All the other main contenders were in their best form going into the race. Yohan Blake and Asafa Powell, also of Jamaica, and Tyson Gay, Ryan Bailey and Justin Gatlin of the USA had all run sub 10s times in qualifying for the final, and have all run 9.7s/9.8s times this year, with Yohan Blake beating Usain Bolt in the Jamaican qualifiers only a few weeks ago. For Britain, Dwain Chambers and Adam Gemili had just missed out on reaching the final in today's earlier semi finals.
The big question, though, was what form was Usain Bolt in going into the race. If he was in 9.7s/9.8s type form that he has been in most of the year, then the others had a chance of victory. If he was in his best form, then no one would come close. In his semi-final victory he looked strong, but never reached top gear, so we were still not sure.
However, in the final, Usain Bolt made all the doubters look foolish. Though he didn't get the best of starts, it was still strong for him, and at 40m he moved into the lead, before powering away at 60m with his huge stride length to not only cross the line 2 metres ahead of the rest, but set a new Olympic Record in a blistering time of 9.63s, faster than his winning time in Beijing.
Though Bolt made the others look slow, it was actually the fastest field in Olympic history will all the athletes running under 10s for the first time, apart from former Olympic Champion Asafa Powell who pulled up with an injury but would surely have run under 10s also otherwise.
Yohan Blake took second with a personal best 9.75s, Justin Gatlin third with a personal best 9.79s, Tyson Gay fourth with a season's best 9.80s and Ryan Bailey fifth with a personal best 9.88s. This only made Bolt's victory even more astounding. All his rivals were at their best, the pressure was at its maximum and still Usain ran the second fastest time in history to win.
Needless to say, the crowd went wild as the story they had all been hoping to tell came true, and Usain Bolt is now clearly on track and firm favourite to retain his other two Olympic titles, the 200m and 4x100m relay, to cement his legacy as the greatest track and field athlete ever.
Only a short time earlier, the crowd had been treated to a thrilling Women's 400m final, with home favourite and defending champion Christine Ohuruogu going up against arch rival Sanya Richards-Ross. Ohuruogu has always run her best times at major championships, only ever going under 50s when she won the world title in 2007 and the Olympic Title in 2008. This year, she has not been in any kind of form until the last couple of months, when she finally got injury free and her times started to tumble. In qualifying for the final, she looked strong and well in contention to yet again peak at an Olympic final and deny Richards-Ross once more.
The final went as expected, with Richards-Ross going out faster, establishing a lead, but as they came out the final bend, Ohuruogu was in contention still, and started to power through with her trade mark final sprint. She came right past the rest of the pack, and was closing in on Richards-Ross, however, this time Richards-Ross had the strength to hold out, finishing in 49.55s, with Ohuruogu in 49.70s, yet again running her season's best in an Olympic Final. It was oh so close to another dream moment for Ohuruogu and the home crowd, and perhaps if she had just started her sprint 10m earlier, she could have taken the Gold. In the end though, it was still a remarkable result for her given where she was at the start of the year, and for Richards-Ross, it was perhaps justice for a woman who has dominated the event since the last Olympics and a worthy Champion.
This was only the final event of the day where Team GB were looking for Gold, however. At Wimbledon, Andy Murray was going for two golds in the Men's singles final Against Rodger Federer of Switzerland, and in the mixed doubles with Laura Robson against the top seeds from Belarus.
Federer was aiming to win the one title he was yet to win, but on the day, Andy Murray's form was too strong as he won the 5 set final in straight sets, 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 to send Centre Court into delirious rapture. Finally, Murray had won a big final, as well as producing the type of performance that suggests he might finally be about to make the step up required to win Grand Slam titles. For Federer, he was disappointed but also pleased to have finally taken a medal in this tournament that he so badly desired, and after his mammoth semi-final win he also seemed like he felt short of what would have been needed to take gold on this day. It also means that of the four major tournaments so far this year, the top four and leading players of the men's game have won one each, going into the last, the US Open, in a few weeks time, that will surely be an electric event also.
In the mixed doubles later on, Murray also looked strong, taking the first set easily with Robson, however, Victoria Azarenka and Max Mirnyi raised their game in the second to clinch it. In the deciding tie break that followed, the Belarus pair just pipped the British duo to take the gold. Still, for Murray it was a great day, going home with two medals, and for Laura Robson, it was undoubtedly the best day of her career. In the women's doubles final, there was no surprise as the Williams sisters again won gold to cement their legacy as the dominant powers in women's tennis over the past 15 years. For Williams, it was yet another title this year, but for Venus it was perhaps a greater feeling of satisfaction as she has battled injury, illness and form this year to get to this level of form again.
With this years Olympic Tennis being at Wimbledon, the home of Tennis, it was always going to be a special occasion for all the players and spectators, but there was also a hope that there would be a standard of tournament to match. With Murray playing perhaps his best ever tennis, and showing an enjoyment he has sometimes lacked, beating Federer in the final, and with the top two in the Women's game also contesting their final, it was probably the best possible sporting outcome to the best possible venue for Tennis there will ever be.
Out on the waters at Weymouth, Britain were expecting two more golds. Defending Champion Ben Ainsley was in a great position to defend his Finn Class title, lying in second by just 2 points, while Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson only needed to finish in the top six to defend their Star Class.
First up were Percy and Simpson, and all looked well as they came into the last few hundred metres, in fourth position and ahead of the Brazil pair who were in Bronze. However, as they came to the line they seemed to lose any breeze in the calm conditions, and ended up slipping from fourth to eighth. While they were only one place behind Brazil, Swedes Fredrik Loof and Max Salminen managed to take first place on the line, pipping the British boat overall by just two points, to claim gold, with Britain silver and Brazil bronze. It was an agonizing finish for the British boat who had dominated the event from the start, and looked a shoe in with just 200m left to race.
There was naturally an anxiousness about the crowd as Ben Ainsley lined up for his final race, and going into the final sprint for the line the race was in an almost identical situation. Ainsley had seen off his main rival, Jonas Hogh-Christensen of Denmark who was two points ahead before the race. However, Dutch sailor Peiter-Jan Postma was ahead in third, and with Ainsley only sitting in ninth, Potsma only needed to claim one more place to take the Gold. However, going round the final marker he made a mistake and dropped to 5th, not only allowing the crowd to sigh in relief, but also relinquishing bronze medal place to the race winner, Jonathan Lobert of France. For Ainsley, it was his fourth Olympic Gold medal, making him the greatest Olympic Sailor ever, and surely tempting him to go for a fifth straight gold in Rio.
In the Velodrome, Britain finally missed out on a Gold medal, as Lasse Norman Hansen of Denmark took the Gold medal in the Men's Omnium. GB's Ed Clancy was well placed going into the final day, but a low placed finish in the scratch meant he had to win the final event, the 1km sprint, to have a chance of gold. Although he won it by some distance, the Dane was able to finish high enough behind him to take the Gold, with Clancy finishing with a bronze behind silver medallist Bryan Coquard of France.
At the ExCell Arena, we saw a brutal battle for gold in the Women's Weight Lifting super heavy weight competition between Lulu Zhou of China and Russia's Tatiana Kashirina. Kashirina set a new world record in the snatch to move ahead, but World champion Zhou eventually won after setting a new world record in the clean and jerk, having gone punch for punch with the Russian up to that point. Lifting weights of over 180kg, more than most men could even get close to, it was an amazing show of strength for Zhou to surely claim the title of the strongest woman at London 2012.
Looking to tomorrow, Team GB put themselves right in contention in the team show jumping event, having jumped two clear rounds and sit joint second on only four penalty points. With more clear rounds tomorrow, they could well overtake current leaders Saudi Arabia and claim a first show jumping gold for 60 years.
Today was billed as 'Super Saturday' and in the end, that description just did not do it justice. Britain had it's highest profile events today, and won them all, with other events to go with them.
The climax of the day took place in the evening at the Olympic Stadium and was for sure the most spectacular session in the History of Athletics. British support for athletics is arguably the biggest in the world in terms of spectators, and with the home nation packing the stands in expectation of glory, the atmosphere was electric even before competition.
Heptathlete Jessica Ennis was completing her last three events of the competition, while Mo Farah was looking to take gold in the Men's 10,000 to confirm his status as the world's best distance runner.
For Ennis, she was leading by over 200 points going into today, and was favourite to claim the gold. However, with the long jump and javelin first up, it would only take one poor result to leave her too far back going into the final event, the 800m. Last year at the world championships a poor javelin cost her gold, so there was an anxiety around the stadium to go with expectation. However, Ennis came out and produced a great jump in her first attempt, before increasing it, and then did the same in the Javelin. There was a collective sigh of relief as the crowd knew that Gold was assured barring a disaster in the 800m, but there was to be no upset as Ennis stormed through to win the final heat of the event to claim an absolutely stunning gold.
It was the fifth highest score in heptathlon history, 6995 points, beating her own European and British records and putting her right up there with the greats of Women's Athletics. The moment she crossed the line also produced the most stunning response from the crowd, only to be repeated when she was awarded her gold medal later in the evening.
With the crowd already in delirium, there was yet more drama unfolding in the Men's Long Jump, as Britain's two athletes were competing for medals. Greg Rutherford was leading after a stunning first round jump, and had just extended it as Ennis was taking to the track for her victory race. Though Chris Tomlinson ended up finishing sixth, Rutherford's jump of 8.31m was never threatened and he had the pleasure of enjoying his final jump knowing he had become Olympic Champion.
After nearly quitting following Beijing, and after a host of injuries that followed, it was a special moment for Rutherford as he claimed Britain's first Gold in the event since 1964. For a long time he has been capable of being the world's best, and coming into the Games finally fully fit he was confident, but to achieve it was unexpected amongst most of the crowd and sent the celebrations into increase rapture.
While the Long Jump Finale was unfolding, Mo Farah had started his 10,000m final. In the initial stages, there was a little anxiousness around the stadium as the pace was fast and Farah was down the field, but he looked calm and collective, knowing the pace would slow and the front runners would come back to him. That they did, and he eased up into the lead runners. With Mo's blisteringly fast finish, everyone was expecting him to kick out with about two laps to go. However, last year in the World Championships he did so and was caught at the last, so he held back longer, making the crowd nervous once more as five athletes were still in it. However in the last lap, he increased the pace, and coming round the last corner he kicked, accelerated down the home straight and stormed his way to the line to take the gold, sending the roaring crowd to levels never experienced before at an athletic event. It was also a touching moment as Farah's training partner, USA runner Galen Rupp, came in second before they embraced each other in joyous celebration.
It was a magical half hour that will surely be the greatest ever in British Athletics, and the greatest session in athletics history, period.
Lost in the furore of the home performances, the last race of the day also saw the greatest women's 100m in history, with six of the finalists going under 11s. In the heats all the favourites were looking in great form. Running strong, relaxed an injury free, it all looked set for a great final and it really delivered, the top six all within two tenths of a second at the tape. Carmelita Jeter of the USA went out strong and took the lead in a powerful start, maintaining rhythm throughout to look like taking the win, but defending champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Price of Jamaica stayed with her, and powered through to take the lead before the line to win her second gold. With team mate Veronica Campbell-Brown taking bronze, Jamaica's dominance of the sprint events looks set to continue.
If that wasn't enough, the crowd had already been treated to a classic women's discus final, with Polish thrower Sandra Perkovic recording a national record 69.11m ahead of Darya Pishchalnikova of Russia. The final was so strong that the world champion could only finish third, and the defending champion fourth.
If all the finals in the Athletics continue in this way, London will surely be the greatest Games ever, and with more big British hopes progressing today as well, there is every chance that it will. Dai Greene sneaked into the final of the 400m hurdles final, and although his performance wasn't his best, is still in with a shout of taking the gold. In the 400m, there were also great moments as GB's Martin Rooney progressed to the next round, along with Oscar Pistorius.
It was a real moment of history as double amputee Pistorius became the first to compete in the Olympics. Not only that, but he qualified from his heat in impressive fashion. With Britain being largely the home of the Paralympic movement, the crowd gave him a great reception, second only to Jessica Ennis of the athletes entering the Arena. Should there be significant integration of disabled athletes into the Olympics over the coming years, this will no doubt be seen as the ground breaking moment that paved the way.
Also in the 400m, LaShawn Merrit, the defending champion, limped out with what seemed like an existing injury. With his two years drugs ban following the last Olympics, his seemingly minimal remorse over his actions and the very small amount competition he missed as a result of his ban, the fact that he will not even be a footnote in this event or the Olympics as a whole will not be much of a disappointment to many but himself. It will also send a strong signal that even just a two year ban between Olympics can do severe damage to a career, as he also failed to take gold in the World Championships last year.
In what would on any other day be the main attraction, the main contenders of the men's 100m all made it safely through to the next round. With all eyes on Jamaican Usain Bolt, in order to assess whether he is in his best form or not, he gave little away as he eased through to the semi-finals in 10.09 seconds with little more than a jog. The fastest time was set by American Ryan Bailey in 9.88s, but little can be read into the times other than Bailey is clearly in surprisingly good form. All the British sprinters also made it through to the semi-finals in relatively easy fashion, with Dwain Chambers looking back to his very best form with one of his best ever times of 10.02s. Young British sprinting sensation Adam Gemili went through in 10.11, with James Desaolu makinng up the trio of GB qualifiers. Though this will likely be as far as they go, if Chambers is able to continue to perform as strongly as he was looking, he could make the final to round off his impressive, if controversial, career.
You would think that the athletics was as good as it could get for Team GB, but in fact it was only the second half of a stunning day of performances and results, with another three gold medals and a silver being won in equally dramatic fashion.
On the rowing waters, the Team GB rowers turned up the heat to confirm their dominance at the Eton Dorney Regatta. GB had three final boats left, and all were looking for gold.
One of those was what has become the flagship event in the Rowing, particularly for Britain; the men's coxless four. This is also the event above all others that Britain sees as 'their event', having won Gold in it at the past three Olympics with British Olympic Royalty in the form of Sir Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent. However, it was the Australian boat that went into the race as favourites having dominated the event for most of the year, but the GB crew emphatically beat them in the semi-final, with a display of power that clearly Australia could not match. So, the expectation of a fourth win was there, if with a little trepidation. In the end, the British four of Pete Reed, Andy Triggs Hodge, Tom James (all of whom won the Gold in Beijing) and Alex Gregory stormed away from the start and won by nearly a length, totally dominating to make a clear statement that in this event, Team GB will just not be beaten.
There was a fourth Gold Medal for Team GB in the rowing with victory in the Lightweight Double Sculls. Having only come together at the start of the year, the progress of Katherine Copeland and Sophie Hosking has been outstanding, dominating the competition from the start as they qualified fastest, then going clear of the field from the off in the final to win by more than two seconds over the Chinese boat in second. This was the third gold medal by the women's team in the rowing, having never previously won a gold before at the Olympics.
It was, therefore, up to the final GB men's boat to win their race to match the women's gold haul. Mark Hunter and Zac Purchase were defending Olympic champions in the lightweight double sculls, and firm favourites going into the race. There was a nervous moment at the start, as the British boat stopped because of a problem with their boat. However, because the problem occurred within the first 100m, they were able to restart the race. On the re-run, the British boat went out hard from the start, taking the lead which they held all the way through to the last few metres before their big rivals, Mads Rasmussen and Rasmus Quist of Denmark, just came through to take the Gold on the line.
It was a disappointing final race for the GB team, but it was still the best ever performance by any country in the Rowing Regatta. A total of nine medals, with four golds two silver and a bronze was an outstanding achievement, and although two or three of the medals could have also been gold, it was still an achievement that will unlikely be matched again.
Not to be outdone, the British Track Cycling Team continued their dominance with another gold in the women's team pursuit. With the Men's Team winning their event yesterday in a world record time, the Women were looking to match them, and they surely did that. They recorded a world record time in every one of their heats, smashing it one last time in the final to win in completely dominant fashion, five seconds ahead of fellow finalists the USA. With all the GB athletes progressing well so far in the other events, a clean sweep of the rest of the golds could well be on the cards.
Today also saw the penultimate day of competition at Wimbledon in the Tennis. As is tradition, it was Women's Final day, pitching arguably the top two in the world at the moment, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova. However, in the end the final was completely one sided, with Wimbledon Champion Serena dominating French Open Champion Maria to win 6-0 6-1. Even though Sharapova was not at her best, with Williams right in her best form it was unlikely Maria, or indeed anyone, would have been able to deny Serena her first Singles Olympic Gold, finally matching her sister Venus Williams' win in Sydney 2000.
For Britain, Andy Murray will go for two Golds on Sunday as he progressed through to the final of the mixed doubles with his partner Laura Robson. Murray continued his good form in both the Quarter-Final and Semi-Final matches, while Robson was playing probably her best tennis ever as they rose to the calls of the crowd to set up a potentially dream final day tomorrow in the Tennis.
With just a handful of races left in the final day of competition at the Olympic Pool, Michael Phelps was again looking to cap off what has been an outstanding Olympics for him in London, and probably the greatest ever Olympic career overall. Swimming with his US team mates in the 4x100m relay, he was strong favourite to win and in the end they made it look easy. The US took gold ahead of Japan and Australia to finish with 18 Gold Medals and 22 in total.
It was a fitting end to his glorious career, especially as many were predicting he would be outshone in London. However, Phelps showed the world he is the greatest by far as he topped the swimming medals charts with four golds and six medals in total. It also finished off a completely dominant display by the USA team, as they took an astonishing 30 medals, 16 of them Gold, accounting for more than half their current medals total so far. As for Australia, it was a disastrous meeting as they won just one gold medal in what is traditionally their strongest sport at the Olympics. Although they were in good positions in a lot of events that could have gone their way, there will no doubt be an inquest as to what went wrong, and how they can get back up to the top.
To round up other events for team GB, it was not a good day for their team events, as the Men's Football team lost their quarter-final match against South Korea, predictably on penalties after a 1-1 draw. They will no doubt feel even more disappointed as they had missed a penalty earlier in the game that would have given them victory. With the GB Women's Football Team also going out yesterday to Canada, after very promising group stages the football tournament will be somewhat of a disappointment for GB. However, with it coming on Britain's greatest Olympics day, it is perhaps the best possible time for the team of the home nations national sport to bow out.
Britain also went out of the Men's Water Polo after a 17-6 loss to Hungary, as well as the Men's Handball competition after defeat to Tunisia, and the Men's Basketball. Though there was not much expectation in any of these sports, Team GB will be hoping they did enough to raise their profile, interest and inspire more people to get involved in the UK. The most disappointed will be the Basketball team, who have got in very good positions to win matches and could have comfortably gone through to the next round. This last defeat will probably hurt the most, as they lost a 15 point lead to eventually lose 106-75. There will no doubt be questions as to why, with big NBA stars in the team, they were unable to do a lot better.
There were much better results in the boxing, as all of Team GB's remaining fighters progressed through to the quarter finals, raising real hopes that they could do something very special and bring home a host of medals, hopefully golds.
The second day of the track cycling saw Team GB in even more dominant form than the previous. After disqualification in the team sprint, Victoria Pendleton went in her second of three events in the Women's Keirin. The disappointment of yesterday did not seem to affect her, however, as she dominated ever round, and left her strongest display for the final. As the pace bike dropped out, her arch rival Anna Meares hit the front with three laps to go. However, at one and a half out Pendleton powered through the pack to take the lead over a matter of metres, stretching out to an unassailable advantage with a lap still to go. Though Gue Shuang of China closed up towards the line, she couldn't get close enough and had to settle for silver, with world Champion Meares finishing a disappointing fifth. It was Pendleton's second Olympic Gold, following an equally dominant display in Beijing four years ago.
Earlier, there was another Gold for GB in the other medal race of the day. In the team pursuit, Britain had set a new world record in the preliminary round. They did the same again in the qualification for the final, and then set their third world record in the three races to outclass their arch rivals Australia in the final. It was a stunning display, and with the women's team pursuit also setting a world record in their preliminary race today, the British track team are looking in ominous form, and don't look like losing in any event so far. If they do go onto win all the rest of the track events, yesterday's qualification will be even more disappointing.
There was a very special moment too on the rowing course at Eton Dorney as Britain won the Women's Double Sculls. have not lost a race since they came together as a pair, and they dominated the race from the start. For Grainger, it was her first Olympic Gold at her fourth attempt, having taken three consecutive silvers at the previous three games. After coming so close before, this was perhaps the one event above all that the British public had been hoping for a victory, and the crowds were in full voice to cheer through Grainger to Gold.
There were a further two medals for Team GB on the rowing waters as first Alan Campbell took bronze in the Men's Single Sculls, with Mahe Drysdale of New Zealand taking Gold, and then another bronze followed in the Men's Pair. George Nash and Will Scatch finished again behind a winning New Zealand boat. This means that, although GB have more medals overall and will likely finish with more than any other nation, New Zealand top the rowing medals table with three golds to Britain's two. Team GB will need to up their game in at least one of the remaining finals if they are to keep their rowing crown which would have been a minimum target before London 2012.
Though not a medal winner, Nigeria's Hamadou Djibo Issaka produced another Olympic moment to rival that of Eric the Eel, as he came last in the race to decide the bottom three places in the men's single sculls. Having only taken up rowing three months ago, he came just under the nine minutes mark to rapturous applause from the packed grand stands.
Drama continued dramatically in the pool as Michael Phelps' phenomenal record was extended further, securing his third gold and second individual of London 2012 in the 100m butterfly, taking his total to 21 and 17 golds in total. Having started in seemingly sluggish form, Phelps has risen to the occasion in his last few races, realising this will be his swansong and raising his performances back to his best. With this being his last individual event before retiring, it was a very special moment in Olympic history.
For Britain, Rebecca Adlington extended her status as queen of British swimming by taking bronze in her 800m final. Though she was favourite going in, 15-year-old American Katie Ledecky stormed out from the start and could not be caught. For Addlington, it was another medal; four Olympic finals, four medals is a phenomenal record considering the relatively low tradition Britain has in the swimming competitions.
This race saw yet another young teenage prodigy of 15/16/17 years old not only take the gold medal but dominate existing champions who are still in their 20s. Missy Franklin, just 17y/o, won her third Gold medal of London 2012 in the 200m Back Stroke in a world record time earlier in the evening, while Ye Shiwen of China has been causing a real storm at just 16y/o. Could this be a sign that swimming is moving in the direction of some other sports, such as gymnastics, where your mid 20s will be the limit of competitiveness? With Phelps retiring after these Games at 27, admitting he won't be able to keep up with the younger generation, it is certainly looking that way at the moment.
In the Judo, Britain won their second surprise medal in two days as Karina Bryant won bronze in the Women's Heavyweight competition. Having fought her way to the semi-finals, she narrowly lost out to Mika Sugimoto of Japan, who in turn lost to Cuba's Idalys Oritiz in the final. In her bronze medal fight, Bryant went behind to a Waza-Ari by opponent Iryna Kindzerska of the Ukraine, before scoring two counter attacking Waza-Ari's of her own to make an Ippon and take the victory.
In her interview following the match, Bryant pointed to the silver medal of Gemma Gibbons yesterday as an inspiration, showing that as a fellow underdog she could come through to take a medal. There have been a number of similar stories coming from the Team GB camp from medal winners, and perhaps the superb performance of Team GB so far can inspire the rest of the home athletes to go on to even bigger achievements in the coming weeks.
Today was also significant for the kick-off of the Athletics competition. With the scheduling of the heptathlon competition on the opening two days, starting in the morning session, along with the shot putt and women's 10,000m finals, it ensured a capacity 80,000 people were there from the very start. This is unprecedented in the Olympics, and the show-piece athletics is set to be a packed house for every session.
This was largely because heptathlete favourite and GB poster girl Jessica Ennis was up first, and she certainly delivered, storming to the best ever 100m hurdles time in the Olympic heptathlon event, in a time that would have won the individual 100m hurdles event in Beijing. She continued to produce strong performances to finish the day top, nearly 200 points ahead of the rest of the field.
There was also strong qualifications by both British Long Jumpers and in the 400m hurdles, both events where Team GB are looking to medal, and maybe take Gold.
In the Shot Putt, Olympic Champion Tomasz Majewski of Poland became the first man ever to retain the Olympic title with a throw of 21.89cm, beating runner up David Storl of Germany by just 3cm. Though this may perhaps be a low key event at London, when the dust has settled Makewski will go down as one of the great Olympic champions.
The final event of the day, the 10,000m women's event, Tirunesh Dibaba stormed away on the last lap to beat her great Kenyan rivals in stunning style. The British athletes also rose to the occasion, smashing their personal bests as Jo Pavey and Julie Bleasdale set times of 30:53.20 and 30:55.63 to finish seventh and eighth respectively.
In the English Channel waters, Ben Ainslie came back in real champion fashion to go into the final race on Sunday as favourite to take another gold medal. Trailing by 3 points going into the day, he finished one place behind his rival Jonas Hogh-Christensen of Denmark. After yesterday's spat, Ainslie was clearly fired up, and stormed out into the lead in the day's second race. Then, he did something not seen in an Olympic heat. Having looked back and seen his rival in second, he slowed down and hounded him, taking the Dane's good wind and forcing him to slow down. This allowed the Dutch boat to come through into second, as Ainslie stormed off again to take the win. This was crucial as it left Ainslie just two points behind, and with the final race counting double, he only has to finish ahead of Jonas to win Gold. With Ainslie's record in these situations, few will back against him. In the Star Class race, Britain are also well set for Gold as Ian Percy and Andrew Simpson increased their lead to eight points, and only need to finish in front of Brazil and Sweden to take top spot.
Finally, the Tennis singles semi-finals were completed today, and the two dream finals were produced. In the women's draw, Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams won through to the final to set up a match between the two form players and winners of the last two majors. In the Men's draw, we will see a repeat of the Wimbledon final on centre court as Britain's Andy Murray outclassed Novak Djokovic and Rodger Federer came through the longest match in Olympic History to beat Juan Martin del Potro 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 19-17. Swiss Star Federer will be looking to add the one title missing in his collection, while Murray will want to avenge his defeat of four weeks ago and produce what would be one of the most special Gold medals for the home nation.
London continued to provide great excitement as well as writing more pages of Olympic History. It was also another good day for the host nation.
It was the first day of the Track Cycling Competition, from which Team GB are expecting to get a whole host of Golds and other medals. The men's and women's team sprint races were being contested, and Britain were expecting to win Gold in both, with Sir Chris Hoy leading the men's charge and Victoria Pendleton heading up the women. It was all going well as both teams stormed through to the final. However, after an inquiry, the women's team were disqualified as Pendleton overtook her lead out rider Jess Varnish too early. The same situation occurred in the final, with China dominating to take the tape, only to be disqualified for the same offence. It meant that by far the two fastest teams were prevented from deciding who are the best in the world, and with the rule they both breached being highly ambiguous, as well as the fact discretion was meant to be applied at the Olympics, it left the track competition feeling decidedly flat.
It was not the first time officials have stepped in and changed results. Yesterday, in the boxing, we saw Iranian Ali Mazaheri disqualified for holding in a quite ridiculous decision against Jose Larduet Gomez of Cuba when leading the match. Then today, Japan's Satoshi Shimizu was awarded a points decision against him in his bout. Even though he was trailing Magomed Abdulhamidov going into the final round, he knocked down the Azerbaijani five times, with the referee only awarding two penalty points against Magomed and seemingly helping him get through the round by not counting him down even once. In both cases, the judges of the bouts were suspended, and Shimizu was at least awarded the fight after appeal.
As we have said in discussing other controversial decisions, it is vital that when the officials are called to make a decision, the right decision is made. This may not always mean following the letter of the law, but the spirit of the competition. So far there have only really been two decisions that have affected medals, in the Men's team gymnastics and today's cycling. The right result was probably achieved in the Gymnastics, but certainly not in the cycling today. Let us hope that there are no other controversial decisions involving officials during these games.
In the men's team sprint, there was no upset for Sir Chris Hoy, as he, Jason Kenny and lead man Philip Hindes stormed to victory in the final in a blistering world record time. This was Hoy's fifth Olympic Gold medal, and with one more event to come, he could become Britain's greatest Olympian. With the men's team pursuit setting GB's third world record of the day in qualifying for their competition tomorrow, Team GB's cycling team look in ominous form as they look to dominate once again.
There was further gold for Britain in the Canoe Slalom at the brand new, state of the art Lee Valley centre, with both of Britain's boats qualifying for the C2 event. Tim Baillie and Etienne Stott were leading with just the unbeaten Word and Olympic Champion brothers Pavol and Peter Hochschorner and fasted qualifying British pair David Florence and Richard Hounslow to come. However, the Slovakian brother's hit a post and missed the mark, guaranteeing Britain a gold. Florence and Hounslow were ahead throughout their run but just slipped behind the lead time at the last to take the sliver behind their team mates.
Earlier in the day, Britain won silver in the rowing with the men's lightweight four. Going into the race as favourites, they were behind from the start to the defending champions Denmark. It was a tough race throughout, with Australia also pushing hard. With just a few hundred metres to go , the British boat started to come through, and just pipped the Danish boat to the line, however, South Africa stormed through to just finish ahead of Britain to take the Gold. If the British team had started the race in their usual fashion, they may well have taken the gold they were expecting, but with such a hard race it is difficult to say for sure.
There was an unexpected Gold for GB in the shooting, however, with Peter Wilson winning the double trap. Going into the final round of 50 in the lead, he stayed ahead throughout, holding off a stunning round of 49/50 by Sweden's Hakan Dahlby. The world record holder's win was Britain's first since Richard Faulds won in Sydney, who unfortunately had failed to reach the final in his fifth Olympics.
In the Judo, Team GB added another unexpected medal as Gemma Gibbons took a stunning silver. Facing a daunting route to the final, she beat three of the world's top ten, including French world champion Audrey Tcheumeo, before just losing out to Kayla Harrison of the USA. Gibbons took the fight to her opponent in each round, seemingly undaunted by their much higher ranking, to become a real star in the eyes of the home crowd. Harrison herself, however, was almost an equally popular winner due to her struggles to get to the top, having been abused by her trainer while a youth athlete and having to also go through the torment of the trial that followed. This final could well go down as one of the most heart warming of any final at London 2012.
At Weymouth and Portland, the sailing competitions moved towards their concluding phases, with Team GB improving their position in all classes. Star man Ben Ainslie beat his Danish rival for gold Jonas Hogh-Christensen in both the day's races to cut his advantage to just four points, with tomorrow's two races and the final on Sunday, which scores double, still to come. There was also an argument over whether Ainslie had hit a marker, with the British sailor choosing to do a voluntary penalty turn to avoid any possibility of an appeal. This led to an angry response by Ainslie after the race, which may not be good news for his rivals as whenever he has gone into a battle, he has always come out on top.
In the pool, Michael Phelps increased his legend with victory in the 200m individual medley. This was his 20th medal, 16th Gold and will perhaps be his sweetest victory at London 2012, as it may be his only individual gold medal, and the victory came over his USA rival Ryan Lochte, who had been predicted to take over Phelps' crown.
The USA team also turned things on in the basketball, with the Men recording the highest ever score at the Olympics with a 156-73 win over Nigeria. With China languishing bottom of group B and the USA's NBA stars on form, there only seems one winner in this event. For team GB, they put in their best performance against European Champions Spain, losing by just one point 79-78. Though still in with a shout of qualification, if they do not they will be kicking themselves for not taking advantage of some very winnable positions in their three games so far.
There was a stunning competition in the Women's individual all-round gymnastics, with the USA coming out ahead of arch rivals Russia after a dominant display by Gabby Douglas, nicknamed “The Flying Squirrel” for the hight she gets on the fault and parallel bars. She beat Viktoria Komova by 0.259 marks, despite an excellent final floor performance by the Russian. This was at least a much stronger performance by Russia after the disappointing display in the team event on day 4. The USA nailed three vaults to score very high scores, while Russia faltered on the beam and floor. Both had very strong teams, and looked in great form early on, with Russia looking like they may cause an upset. However, in the end, the USA were too strong, and with today's individual victory, America are well on top in the countries' traditional battle ground.
Finally, to the horses and the team and individual dressage competition got under way, with GB riders Carl Hester and Laura Bechtolsheimer finishing the day first and second respectively. The competition also saw the oldest competitor of the games, with Japan's Hiroshi Hoketsu competing at the age of 71, coming 48 years after representing Japan at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. This was a great moment, and represented one of the key principles of the Olympics; that it is more about the taking part and competing than just winning Golds. Hoketsu performed well, finishing above many younger and more fancied competitors at the end of the first day.
After a slightly disappointing start to the Olympics for the home nation from a medal point of view, Team GB finally won their first Gold medals.
They came in Britain's strongest sports, with massive favourites Helen Glover and Heather Stanning dominating to win the Women's pair. Surprisingly, this was Britain's first ever gold medal in the Women's rowing at the Olympics. With other women's boats set to claim further golds, it seems that rowing will be one sport where hosting the games has really raised standards.
This win came alongside all the British boats in the qualifiers going through to their finals, meaning Team GB are set to have thirteen boats in finals out of the fourteen races.
In a perhaps even greater performance, the Men's eight won Bronze, after going all out for gold against the German favourites. Germany had won every race in the past three years, but the British boat have had a power advantage, so they knew if they were up with them with 500m to go, they had a chance to win gold. At half way, 1000m, both boats were level, but then team GB went into the lead at 1250m. This gave hope that they could go through to gold, but they had nothing left and eventually came third as Canada claimed sliver. It was the closest anyone had pushed the German team, and perhaps if they had just held off their final push to the last 500m, they would not have run out of steam like they did with 150m left. Still, considering where the team were a few weeks ago, bronze was still a great result. This was especially the case for Greg Searle, coming out of retirement and competing 20 years after winning his previous medal in Barcelona.
Second Gold came shortly after in Britain's other dominant sport: cycling. With Britain claiming first and second in the Tour de France just ten days ago, Team GB were firm favourites to win the Olympic Time Trial. Tour de France Winner Bradley Wiggins delivered in emphatic style, winning by almost a minute, with his Tour runner up Chris Froome claiming the bronze. After Britain missed out in the road race on Saturday, some were questioning how dominant Team GB still were. However, with this result and the vibes coming out of the rest of the camp, it is likely most gold medals in the rest of the sport will go to Britain too.
This result also made Bradley Wiggins Britain's most successful Olympian, winning his fourth gold and seventh medal in total, one ahead of Sir Steve Redgrave. For a man who has been in the shadow of other riders, such as Sir Chris Hoy and Mark Cavendish, this has been one of the most outstanding sporting achievements by a British athlete, indeed any athlete, in any sport. No one has ever won the Tour de France and an Olympic medal in the same year, let alone within 10 days of each other.
Another Gold Medal opportunity was played out in the pool, with Michael Jamieson going in the final of the 200m breaststroke having qualified fastest, along with Team GB team-mate Andrew Willis. Having dramatically improved his best time in each heat, Jamieson did it again, swimming just shy of the existing world record. However, he was pipped by Hungary's favourite Daniel Gyurta who had to swim a new world record to hold on to Gold. It was a fantastic and unexpected silver, and with his younger team mate finishing in eighth, this could be the event that sparks a surge in success for male British swimmers to rival their women's recent success.
There was a big upset in the pool too, with Australia's firm favourite just losing out in the 100m freestyle to Nathan Adrian of the USA. This was another highly disappointing result for the Australian swimming team in their number one Olympic sport, leaving some big questions as to why their once world leading development has not produced the top results. This criticism is perhaps a little harsh, as they still are producing many of the world's best swimmers and some of their losses have been very tight.
We also saw the repercussions of yesterday's disgraceful performances in the women's badminton semi finals, where four teams in two of the matches were trying to lose to secure easier draws in the knock-out stages for which they had already qualified. Well, they certainly have an easier time in the rest of the competition, as all four teams were today disqualified and thrown out of the competition. It is difficult to know whether their actions were their own or instructions from their coaches, so it is perhaps a little harsh on the athletes themselves, but for the integrity of the Olympics and sport in general, it was the only call to make in order to send a clear message to others that this sort of action is unacceptable.
The Men's football group stage competition was concluded today, and as expected Team GB did knock out favourites Uruguay after a 1-0 win. With Spain already out, the competition is now wide open, leaving Brazil the probable new favourites but open to almost anyone left. The British team also have a great chance in what may well be the most celebrated gold medal should they continue to improve and win the tournament.
A quick update on the boxing competition that finished the first round bouts today, and Team GB have all seven of their fighters through, with Super Heavy Weight fighter Anthony Joshua beating much fancied Cuban Erislandy Savon Cotilla 17-16 today. The boxing team are very confident of winning several medals, and with the Women's boxing starting on the 5th August, Boxing could prove to be a top sport at London 2012 for the host's medal haul.
We saw the best and the worst of sport during today's events,
In the pool, it was what will perhaps prove to be the one of the most historic moments in Olympics history. Michael Phelps was looking to extend his record total of gold medals, while at the same time becoming the most medalled athlete in Olympic History. In a big shock, however, Phelps was beaten into second in his favourite event, the 200m butterly, where he had never been beaten previously in competition. South Africa's Chad le Clos just touched ahead of his Olympic idol to win by the narrowest of margins, producing scenes that epitomise all that is good about the Olympics.
We saw two men pushing the bounds of what is physically possible, with the winner having initially been inspired to succeed by the former champion. This inspiration has always been a key component of the Olympics, and was followed by great sporting gestures of congratulations from both men, with uncontrolled outpouring of emotion as the years of hard work were paid off for both men.
Phelps, however, was not to be denied his moment as he took Gold in the 4x200m freestyle relay with his USA team, which also included Ryan Lochte. It gave Phelps his 15th Glold Medal and 19th Medal in total, overtaking Russian Gymnastic Star Larisa Latynina. Although it may have taken place on a relatively low key day of the Games, it will go down in history as one of the top moments in the Olympics of all time. It was another great example of the Olympics pushing mankind to achieve greater and greater physical achievements.
However, in the badminton we saw perhaps the worst moment of the Olympics, and one of the biggest turn off’s in sport. In two matches, both teams had already qualified, and in order to try and gain an easier draw in the knock-out stages, all four teams were trying to lose, hitting shots out and just serving into the net. This is both against Olympic spirit and against the rules of the badminton competition. The crowds were not happy, booing loudly right the way through, and the umpires were not happy either, warning they would be disqualified if they continued.
The integrity of competition is vital in sport, as we have discussed before, and all participants must be trying to perform at their best, and aiming to win, if it is to be viable and worthwhile. It was also a huge disrespect to those who had paid to go and watch them, and it is unlikely to go unpunished as an investigation is under way.
For team GB, the Equestrian team finished off the third day in excellent form, claiming sliver behind the German's. With only the top three riders in a team counting towards the winning totals, Britain's top 3 riders performed outstandingly in the venting, with two posting clear round, and if the third had gone clear, they would have taken gold. At the end, there was a seminal moment as Princess Anne handed out the medals, giving one to her daughter Zara Philips 36 years after competing herself in the same event.
In the Women's hockey, Team GB continued their good form with a 5-3 victory, while in the Women's football the GB Team beat one of the favourites Brazil 1-0 to qualify for the next round wining all their matches. It seems that Britain's team competitions are performing above expectations and could produce some more unexpected medals.
This contrasts to some of the GB's individual competitors. Euan Burton, a strong favourite to win a medal in the Judo -81kg category, lost by ippon in a de minutes, seemingly being too aggressive and confident, leaving himself open. Britain's world number one David Florence, and sliver medallist in Beijing, went out in the semi final of the canoe slalom after making an error and hitting a gate.
It is worth keeping an eye on the relative performances of the team and individual competitors of the host nation. There is great expectation and pressure on both, but does being in a team make it easier to cope with this attention, rather than having to to shoulder the burden alone. What is also interesting about these two high profile losses is that their individual events are not part of a strong team set-up, unlike other individual events in sports such as cycling or athletics. There was much made of creating a 'Team GB' camaraderie across all sports for this very reason. The idea being to give greater support to all sports via a greater collective. It will be interesting to see how effective this has been, and whether some athletes felt this support more than others.
London is certainly turning into an Olympics of surprises and controversy, greatly increasing the excitement on day three. It also seems to be largely following around team GB, who were involved in perhaps two of the biggest stories of the day.
Firstly in the Men's 10m Diving Synchro, where the poster boy of London 2012, Tom Daley, was competing with his partner Pete Waterfield. There was great expectation that they may be able to overhaul the favourite Chinese pair, which only increased when they maintained their lead at the top at the halfway stage after 3 rounds. Their performances were outstanding and really putting the pressure on the Chinese who were making some mistakes. However, in their fourth dive Tom and Pete, after an initially excellent synchronisation on their hardest dive, both came out of their tucks at the wrong moment and registered a low score, dropping down to fourth from which they were unable to recover to win a medal despite excellent following dives. It was another example that you just cannot be certain of results in any events at London 2012, as just one mistake can cost you a medal. Thankfully, both Tom and Pete have a chance to medal in the individual event next week.
The second focal point of the day was a similar example, taking place in the Men's Team Gymnastics competition. Having qualified in superb fashion, Team GB performed excellently to put themselves in contention for a medal. A mistake on the high bar left them needing outstanding floor results, which they delivered, pipping the Ukraine team. Then, the last Japanese athlete messed up his dismount on the pommel, initially handing team GB sliver, and Ukraine bronze, before an appeal revealed a points award error, promoting Japan back to silver and GB to bronze, leaving the Ukraine team distraught in tears. The competition was of very high quality, and the medals were decided by just single errors, as the favourites the USA found to their horror as they finished well of the pace. Rank outsiders GB won their first medal in the event for a century, a truly outstanding display.
Further controversy occurred in the fencing, as the Korean Shin Lam thought she had won through to the final, only for there to be an infringement call and the clock reset with one second to go. Defending champion Britta Heidemann then scored with a last ditch effort to win. The Korean was left shocked and in tears, sitting in tears for 70 miutes feeling cheated before leaving the floor. The shocks continued as Heidemann then lost her title in the final to Yama Shemayakina of the Ukraine.
Further shocks continued in the swimming pool, where Ryan Lochte missed out on a medal in the 200m freestyle, Yannick Agnel of France taking Gold, and 15 year old Lithuanian Ruta Meilutyte, who went to school with Tom Daley in Plymouth and trains with him, won the 100m women's breaststroke.
In the women's volleyball, Team GB Women's team not only won their first ever set at the Olympics, but won the match against the African champions Algeria 15-8 in the fifth set. With another athlete being kicked out of the games because of an apparently discriminatory tweet and Australian Women's Basketball player Belinda Snell taking a free throw rebound before landing a beyond last second half way shot to tie their game with France, the Olympics continues to be packed full of excitement.
To round off, a summary of the rest of the British teams' progress, where they seem to be moving into excellent positions in many sports. In sports that have not quite met expectations in the recent past, the Men's Hockey won their opener convincingly to follow up the Women's win yesterday. Both are looking strong and could both medal. Similarly, the Team GB Equestrian team finished the day second overall going into tomorrow's final day, right in contention for Gold, with good positions in the individual medalling.
In traditionally stronger events for GB, their rowers were in great form, with all boats progressing in the rounds contested, with a very good chance all thirteen of their boats making the finals. With the medal events starting on Wednesday, they seem set to surpass their table topping haul of Beijing, even if their flagship boat, the men's coxless four, are not favourites. After another day of sailing, all British boats remain in contention after a mixed day, and could very well medal in all events, an outside target given before the tournament. It certainly seems to be the case that the excellent crowds have raised the performances of Team GB, but the big question remains whether they can convert potential good positions into a record haul of medals.
The second day of full competition really sparked things off on the sporting side of London 2012, with work records, shock results and more sports getting started.
There was also an element of symmetry about the weekend as a whole, with the women's road cycling race unfolding in similar fashion to the men's race yesterday. Though the women mainly had to contend with driving rain compared to the men's sunshine, the critical stages of both races took place at the top of Box Hill, where an attack broke away from the main peloton to produce the winner. Today, though, the break away group in the women's race contained a member of Team GB, and Lizzie Armitstead drove hard to take silver, narrowly missing out to Marianne Vos of the Netherlands, to register GB's first medal of the Games, and in the same event as four years ago.
It had been the missing aspect of London 2012 so far, but the fans that packed the route despite the thunder storms were rewarded and the atmosphere around the rest of the stadiums notably lifted, as did other performances of Team GB.
There was an excellent win for the Women's GB Volleyball team in their first game against Canada, Rajiv Ouseph won a close match in his Badminton Group game, triple Olympic Champion Ben Ainsley got off to an unusually good start, coming second in the days two events, while the rest of the Team GB sailors also got off to a great start. The women's gymnastics team went through to the final, led by Beth Tweddle who topped the uneven bars with a stunning performance, while the British Women's Hockey Team thrashed Japan 4-0 in their opener and Andy Murray won his first round match in the Tennis.
In the football, the Team GB men's team beat UAE 3-1 to top their group after two games, and if they draw or beat Uruguay they will not only top the group, but knock them out of the competition in the process. With the other favourites Spain going out today after a second shock loss, Team GB will have a great chance of winning gold, especially if they continue to improve as they have been. Referring back to an earlier post, this would really unite the whole of the UK in celebration of success for their national sport in a way that would never happen again.
It seems that the home crowd has really risen the performances of Team GB as a whole, with the noise and support given to every athlete immense, though there have been some disappointing results for the home nation, as you would expect. On the hole, though, it looks like, potentially, Team GB could be on for anther record haul of medals, something that would really mark these Olympics as something special.
The main drama of the day, perhaps, took place in the pool, with the Chinese pair winning the women's 3m synchro diving in dominant fashion. With team GB also in the final, it was a great atmosphere, especially as the young British pair performed very well in all but their third dive that perhaps cost them a medal chance. It was a good prelude to the Men's 10m synchro tomorrow, with poster boy of the Games Tom Daley going for Gold with his partner Pete Waterfield, a must see for tomorrow's events.
Later on, the swimming competition really got going, with a world record going to Van der Burgh as he won the 100m freestyle final, and the superstar American team containing Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte being beaten in the 100m freestyle relay, France finally taking the gold after continually being pipped to the title. British swimmers also stepped up their game, reaching three finals and swimming poster girl Rebecca Adlington following up her surprise gold four years ago with an excellent bronze in the 400m freestyle. Being the weaker of her two gold medal disciplines, and not expected to even medal, it was a great performance to get the crowd on their feet.
The competition is certainly living up to expectation, and while there is still a feeling that things are just 'bubbling away nicely', there is a distinct party atmosphere around all the venues that is really creating a special atmosphere. As we get into the thick of the medal winning events, this great atmosphere will only get better and will surely produce a wonderful spactator-athlete relationship.
Finally, a quick reference to some of our pre-Olympic articles. Firstly, on the venues. Today London really did show how unique a Games it will be. We had archery at Lords Cricket Ground, Tennis at Wimbledon and Football at Wembley and Old Trafford in Manchester. These have all been iconic sporting venues for decades, and cannot be matched by any other Olympics. With the beach volleyball at Horse Guards Parade proving every bit as exciting as predicted, and the new stadiums looking and working in spectacular fashion, the venues, as we predicted, are proving to be the greatest in Olympic History.
The other highlight for us before the Games was London being the first real Digital Games. The BBC has live coverage of every single event on every day of the Games, coverage that can be rewound, recorded or started at any time people wish to view it. This can be done on TV or online, as well as through mobile devices and Facebook. There has also been a clear increase in the integration of social media, especially twitter, to get the public more involved throughout the Games. This unprecedented coverage has been replicated in other countries, and has really brought the Olympics to the people like never before. The connection and inspiration produced is on course to be unprecedented also, going a long way to achieving the key legacy objectives of London 2012. If the predicted 4 billion or more people around the world watch the Olympics during the 3 weeks, it will go down as a true milestone in human history.
After quite a special evening, the first full day of competition took place in quite a frenzied fashion. We had events in a whole range of sports, from swimming to shooting, beach volleyball to gymnastics, handball to tennis.
However, the whole day seemed to be conducted on a rather more subdued note compared to the excitement of the opening ceremony. This was perhaps partly due to most of the events being just qualification rounds. However, the main reason was the failure of Team GB in the Mens Cycling Road Race.
With the newly crowned Tour de France winner and the runner up, the national champion and the fastest man on two wheels in Mark Cavendish, Team GB had probably the strongest ever team put together for this event, and it certainly showed. They took the race from the start and led from the front in order to control it. This they did excellently, but in the end fell victim to their reputation.
There were many attacks early on which they had to cover, and no doubt drained early energy levels more than they were expecting. It was also the case that many of the big players simply sat back and let them do all the running, perhaps because they were not worried about the other riders, and just wanted to keep in touch with the 'dream team'.
Then, a break away group occurred at the final climb and team GB were unable to close the gap in time, in the finishing well back. We have to bear in mind that, unlike in the Tour de France, the team do not get given information about their position. It was perhaps, therefore, a mistake to allow the break away to happen and should have reeled them in.
It was disappointing mainly because Cavendish was the only member of the team not to win a medal four years ago, and he would have surely won had they been up with the lead group. Perhaps more importantly, it would have given the home nation the sporting boost to really get the competition off to a sizzling start. Over a million people were estimated to have lined the route, and it was certainly packed at every point shown. This would make it the largest crowd for any Olympic event in history, so to crown a home winner would have been something special.
This also showed the huge capacity of interest in sport within the British public, and only further highlighted perhaps the other main talking point of the day; large numbers of empty seats. There were whole sections empty in the gymnastics and other sports, while Wimbledon was also far from full, even when GB athletes were playing. However, all today’s events were pretty much sold out, except perhaps for some of the beach volleyball. It seems that a lot of the 'missing people' were corporate/sponsor allocated tickets. There was much criticism of the number of tickets given to these sections, but it could mean a whole host of tickets becoming available as organisers look to find out the reason for the empty seats and claim back tickets that wont be used to put them on sale.
The first gold medal was awarded in the shooting to China, who topped the medals table at the end of the day. In the overall context of the sporting events, this could be a a sign of things to come. The hopes of team GB of perhaps getting to China's level of success was dampened further by disappointments in swimming and tennis. However, these were not big medal hopes, and in Gymnastics the men's team shone through on their opening day with their best ever performance and putting themselves in a great position for medals that would be an outstanding achievement.
The highlight, though, was the general mood of the crowd. Though it didn't have quite the excited feel of the day before, there was a great party atmosphere at every competition, and the support for the athletes was immense. With most being qualifying rounds, it was brilliant to see all sports being given the spectator boost that the British public are renowned for. If there are to be extra tickets available to the public also, it could prove to be the best part of these already special Games.
What a way to kick off the London 2012 Olympics!
There has been great anticipation with London. There has been this feeling that it could be truly great, the greatest ever Games, but there has also been this fear that it wouldn't live up to its promise. Well, today London answered in emphatic style!
Firstly, in the only sport of the day, two world records were set in the preliminary rounds of the archery. Being just a warm up to the warm up events, it was a great way to start off the sports. If the athletes continue to raise their game in the incredible atmosphere London is creating, the results could be breathtaking.
The rest of the day's focus was naturally on the Opening Ceremony. Lots of gossip about the secrets dominated the day; what was in the show, who would light the torch. Thankfully, media attempts to highlight possible negatives were thwarted as everything went smoothly. With great anticipation, what is dubbed 'the greatest show on earth' came upon us, and boy it did not disappoint. All the worries about potential problems were smashed from the start by a stunning show that hooked the imagination throughout. There has never been a show on earth like it before. The integration of lighting, technology and performance was stunningly choreographed by Oscar Winning Director Danny Boyle. It was never going to be on the scale of Beijing, but it had the heart of the Olympics throughout, and the soul of the British people.
Though not all the themes would have been followed by everyone around the world, there was enough for international audiences to enjoy without a full grasp of every meaning, while the distinctly British feel not only showed off to the rest of the world, but gave her own people something mesmerising to remember.
It started with a children’s choir singing famous songs from each of the home nations of the United Kingdom, fittingly bringing her people together in celebration. The videos that accompanied showed singers in each country, as well as rugby clips for each nation. Though there were also cricket clips at various points throughout, which is also not in the Games, this seemed perhaps just a little dig at the decision not to have rugby 7s in London, then only to agree to it being in Rio. Surely, a ridiculous decision with the Olympics being held now in the motherland of rugby, which would have brought even greater integration of the whole UK into these Games and provided sell out stadiums.
The singing then brought us into a reconstruction of the English countryside, a wonderful depiction of an iconic part of Britain, focussing on grassy hilltop mound that would play a prominent part throughout. Especially good was the fact that it was real grass, covered in flowers.
Atop this mound stood Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the great industrial engineer of the 19th century and British icon, reading a passage from Shakespeare's 'The Tempest'. It was an inspiring peace of cultural amalgamation that exemplified the biggest cultural Olympics that London has been bringing. Once he was done, Brunel then set about the destruction of the stage, ripping up grasses and conducting the construction and industrialisation of Britain that made her the biggest Imperial superpower ever and the economic driving force of the time. This was all set to a breathtaking beat of over a thousand drums, as factories, smoke chimneys and steel works rose out of the ground, bellowing out smoke that gave off the real smell of industrial age. For any history lovers, it was breathtaking, and the most spectacular introduction ever witnessed at an Olympics. To transform a stage so dramatically and so seamlessly was incredible.
The culmination of this section was the forging in the steel fires of the 5 Olympic rings, that were then raised and joined together. This was a tribute to the foundation of the Olympics at the end of the industrial 19th century on the basis of the development of modern day sport that took place in the UK in the decades prior. Though Greek in origin, the Modern Olympics is firmly founded from this section of British history, and it was an outstanding representation of this origin that gave the Olympics its binding ideals of humanity.
This was all before the Opening ceremony was officially started by the Queen, and even that was a brilliant, genius bit of production. A film was shown of James Bond (played by Daniel Craig) arriving at Buckingham palace to collect and escort the Queen to the stadium via helicopter, whereupon they both parachuted out before the Queen appeared to officially open the night from her royal box. It was a wonderfully funny bit of drama that brought a unique dynamic to the show which would run throughout.
Children were an integral part of the whole ceremony, rather than being a token display, and the next stage brought this to the fore. A section combining children's literature and the NHS saw children enjoying their stories before being spooked by baddies in their beds. A passage of Peter Pan was read by JK Rowling, author of Harry Potter, and highlighted the great tradition of children's books from the UK. The author of Peter Pan also left the royalties from his book to Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital in London, so it was an wonderfully choreographed combination of these two great British institutions, rounded off by a host of Mary Poppins' flying down and scaring the baddies away!
The world famous London Philharmonic Orchestra was on next, playing Chariots of Fire, accompanied unexpectedly, and to the delight of the crowd, by Rowan Atkinson. Reviving his Mr Bean character, he added another dose of iconic British humour to the proceedings, and it was also certainly a section the rest of the world would have understood and enjoyed just as much.
Next up was a representation of modern Britain. A love story developed between two young people as a night on the town progressed. During which we were taken on a trip from the 1960's through to today, highlighting a range of British cultural achievements and developments, all put to a brilliant mash-up of great British music that took us through the decades. This finished with the central house used in scene being lifting up to reveal Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the founder of the world wide web and responsible for our digital age that was also a key component of this section.
Perhaps the most fitting, and moving part for Londoners, came with a lull in noise and a spiking in intensity as those lost in the London Bombings in 2005 the day after London was awarded the games were remembered. A video montage was shown before an outstanding and intimate dance performance set to a beating heart was played out, finishing with the song 'Abide With Me' that was perfectly sung by the outstanding talents of Emeli Sande. This song also has added significance in Britain as it has been sung before every FA Cup Final since the 1920s. It was highly emotional and deeply moving as the excited crowd suddenly fell silent in tribute to those that were lost and could not be with us.
The athletes parade was then started, brought on to the beat of the drums that remained present throughout the show. There was also another excellent musical combination played in accompaniment that sped up and held the interest of what can be the section that drags on a little. Not this time though, as the mood was in full party mode, culminating in the arrival of the British Team, led by Sir Chris Hoy, to deafening cheers and applause. In their white and gold uniforms, it really made the British Athletes feel truly special, and must have been incredibly inspiring.
The Games were then Officially opened by the Queen, after the Olympic flag was raised alongside the flags of each nation that had been planted in the grassy hill together, another unique moment of this occasion and a great peace of symbolism. As the flag was brought up to the mound, it was touched by the greatest athlete of all time, Muhammed Ali, himself an Olympic Champion but a world icon for many more reasons. His battling spirit in the face of obvious physical and mental deterioration was in inspiration to all athletes and mankind alike.
What followed next will go down as one of the most iconic moments of any Olympics. Each of the 200 plus teams had preceded to bring in a piece of the Olympic Cauldron, but we did not see where they were placed. The Olympic Torch was then brought down the final part of the Thames on a speed boat, driven by David Beckham and held by a rising star of British women's football. It was almost as if Beckham was bringing the Games to London, a fitting tribute to the work he put in to bring the Olympics to the city, and his tireless work afterwards to help make it a success.
The torch then entered it's final stage, as Sir Steve Redgrave, the greatest ever Olympian, lit is torch and took it into the stadium, passing by over 500 construction workers who helped build the Olympic park. However, there was to be a final spectacular, as Sir Steve passed the torch onto one of seven young athletes who lapped the stadium, before meeting with six other great British Olympians past to receive another six torches. This symbolised key messages of the London Olympics; legacy, collectivity, inspiration and inclusion. Rather than one person lighting the torch, it was as if the whole nation was participating. It was almost as if they were the Gods on Mount Olympus, overseeing the continuation and continued success of the Olympics and Olympic spirit.
These seven young athletes then took their torches to the middle of the stadium, where the Cauldron had finally been revealed. The 200 plus pods or petals had been attached to stalks, forming a circle, like an open flower. The seven young athletes then lit the first seven pods, sparking the rest in a cascade of fire, before the stalks raised and the petals combined to form the one Olympic Cauldron. It was the most moving and dramatic lighting there has ever been. Every nation coming together in unity to form it, lit in then middle of the very athletes that brought the cauldron in to form the most beautiful piece of art you could have graced the scene with. It will go down as the most iconic symbol of the Olympic ideals there has ever been. Unity, legacy, inspiration, peace and celebration. It was not lit by one man, but lit by the world.
Finally, the musical bonanza was completed by Sir Paul McCartney singing 'Hey Jude', the perfect unifying song as the crowd joined in it's finale to finish the evening as intended; together in unity and celebration.
-126/07/2012 Well, the day before the Opening Ceremony of the London Olympics has certainly stepped things up, with organisers, athletes and politicians going into overdrive on the publicity. Prime Minister David Cameron, London Mayer Boris Johnson, and even Republican US Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney have all been holding TV ops, interviews and events. This has largely been to promote the opening ceremony tomorrow to the max, but also one suspects to get just a little publicity for themselves...
We also saw the final day of the torch relay before it lights the stadium flame, with it paraded around central London and its famous landmarks, meeting royalty and even a trip on the iconic Red Bus. The torch has been a great success, with millions of people across the UK turning out to see it. Some days have reported hundreds of thousands of people turning out. If the the enthusiasm the British public have shown for the torch is carried forward into the rest of the Games, London 2012 will be one of the truly memorable Games from a spectator point of view, topping even Sydney in 2000.
We have also had our share of fresh stories about athletes. Usain Bolt, the biggest name at the Games, confirmed fears of a lack of fitness, suspected after a number of sub-par performances recently, but insisted he is still in great shape and ready to defend all his titles. Other stars like Mark Cavendish, Michael Phelps and Andy Murray have spoken of their thoughts and expectations for the days ahead. Meanwhile, Sir Chris Hoy has criticised the decision to remove some cycling events from these Games, and the 'one rider per nation' rule in his individual sprint discipline, resulting in him being dropped for his team mate Jason Kenny. With the Philips Idowu injury saga also rolling on, it all adds a welcome dose of spice to the coming events. The more stories and detail we have about the athletes leading up to the games, the greater the intrigue and excitement. So here's hoping the gossip and rumour continues to rumble on throughout the Games!
To the sports, and the Men's Football got under way, with one of the favourites Spain suffering a shock upset in their first group game against Japan, while Brazil nearly threw away a 3-0 lead against Egypt, holding on for a 3-2 win. The Team GB Men's team rounded the day off with a controversial 1-1 draw, conceding an equalising goal after having a clear penalty not awarded a few minutes before.
With football being the national sport, the success of the GB football teams could be a key aspect of the Games. This success may not have to be medals, but good performances, exiting football and plenty of heart so that all the home nations can get behind it. Today, we saw enough of all of those to be encouraged, while the team also offered some hope they could win a medal, and even go all the way to gold.
The game also highlighted one of the fears of any big sports tournament: errors by officials. The penalty mistake was a big one, but not the only mistake made during the game. It is important that people come away from each of the events feeling that the right result was achieved, and a fair contest witnessed. If officials prevent this from happening, as has happened in previous Olympics on many occasions, it could be the biggest dampener on the London Olympics. More than any of the other teething problems seen so far, this is the biggest issue threatening the Games, and here's hoping that there are no more major mistakes by officials.
Finally, we saw today a few glimpses of the Opening Ceremony from the rehearsals. It has only built on the excitement, as what we have seen looks distinctly London, distinctly British, and on a far grander, and more spectacular scale than people were perhaps expecting. It could be just the extravaganza we have all, quietly, been hoping for...
So, the first day of the London Olympics is upon us!
Actually, we are officially at day -2, as the Opening ceremony isn't until Friday, and the 'first' day of competition takes place on Saturday. However, the Football tournament kicks off today with the Team GB women's team first up. This has happened since 2000 to try and spread out the football tournament schedule.
We shall update this post a little later as we round up the day, but we thought it a good idea to highlight the 'first' day and offer a first prediction of the Games:
With Team GB including most of their big names within their squad, such as Kelly Smith, Ellen White and Rachel Yankey, lets go for a 2-1 over a good New Zealand side to get the Home Nation up and running.
Well, the first day of London 2012 Olympics has certainly been eventful, even if there have only been a few events. Athletes testing positive for drugs, the South Korean flag mistakenly displayed for the North Korean Women's football team, the 'Olympics Lanes' in London have attracted the predictable complaints, Philips Idowu seemingly going missing from the Team GB Athletics Team and the concerns over G4S and Olympics Security continue to drag on.
While you may be forgiven for thinking the London Olympics has got off to a poor start, with the news channels desperate to create stories out of anything, these have all been minor issues. Very few of the Olympics Lanes were actually activated, due to the relatively quiet traffic in Central London, while the wrong Korean flag is not the first time this sort of mistake has been made at an Olympics. The rumour mill around the athletes is also an inevitable part of the build up to any Games, and we should not make too much of these stories, as all athletes have their own way of preparing.
The positive drugs tests should also come as no surprise, as London has the most comprehensive testing of any Olympics. There will always be some athletes that try to cheat, as well as false positives, but the positive results so far should only be seen as the system working.
The best and most memorable Olympics have always been the ones where sporting achievements have been accompanied with great stories and controversy. If London continues to create many talking points like today, we could be in for the greatest Olympics ever!
In the end though, the big story of today was the sport. The GB Women's football team won their game 1-0 against New Zealand (as we predicted!), in a game that could set a precedent for the rest of the Games. They initially started slowly, seemingly nervous about the occasion. However, as they settled down they took control of the game and won thanks to a fantastic free kick. They seemed to rise to the occasion, and could be an indicator of how the rest of Team GB will perform; nervous initially, but rising to the challenge and surpass expectations.
There was also the unwelcome sight of empty seats. While this always is the case in the initial rounds of football, you have to wonder whether it wouldn't have been better to kick off the Games in London, with an almost certainly full stadium for the first match. This perhaps would have been a better showcase to get things going. While most events will be sold out, a few changes could have ensured all events were packed.
Overall, the perfect day. Controversy, gossip and great sport, with the home nation winning their opening event to get the public in the mood. Here's hoping for more of the same in the days ahead...
On the 27th July 2012, London will welcome the world as it hosts the XXX Summer Olympic Games, the 48th Olympiad and the 19th Paralympic Games.
The election to host the 2012 Olympic Games took place on 6th June 2005, with 9 cities competing for the honour, including London, Paris, Leipzig, New York, Istanbul, Moscow, Madrid, Havana, and Rio de Janeiro. In the end, London came out on top with of the 104 votes cast, beating off competition from Paris in the final round of voting to win the hosting of the Olympics 2012.
It will be the third time London has hosted the games, having stepped in as host in 1908 and hosting the first games after World War II in 1948. To meet the demands of a modern Olympics, London is developing a brand new complex in Stratford, East London where the Olympic Park will be situated. This will be the site of the brand new Olympic Stadium, along with many other sporting arenas, seeing 180,000 spectators entering the Olympic Park each day of the games.
The London Olympics 2012 will see 26 Olympic sports encompassing 300 events being competed in 28 venues, as well as 20 Paralympic sports taking place in 21 venues. In total, 10,500 Olympic sportsmen and women and 4,200 Paralympic athletes will be taking part., with 20,000 press and media workers reporting on and broadcasting London 2012 to the rest of the world. Over 9 million tickets will be sold to attend the events at the stadiums alone, with many more millions enjoying public screenings across the UK and billions watching the 2012 Olympics around the world through the six week festival.
While centred on London, the London Games will be brought to the whole of the UK, with events also taking place in Wales, Scotland and throughout England. With many world sports such as cricket, football, rugby badminton and more originating from the UK, and with Britain a founding member of the Modern Olympic Movement, London is using its extensive sporting tradition and expertise to put on what will be the biggest sporting and cultural event the world has ever seen.
Please Click on the sections below to find out more about the London 2012 Olympics.
Bsc Physical Education, Sports Science and Physics, Loughborough University
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