Archived entries for Olympics

Olympics: Being There – Weightlifting

Long time Olympic fan Alan Fisher originally missed out on the tickets he wanted when the Games finally came to his hometown, but he went to the Weightlifting and shares his Olympics experience in the latest of the series from writers who have attended London 2012 events.

Weightlifting, Excel

Watching the Olympic Games on television is one of my earliest memories. A sports-crazy kid, I remember getting up early to watch ‘Good Morning Tokyo’ before school. Grainy black and white and David Coleman’s crackling commentary brought mystery and wonder, superhuman deeds from a faraway land. I can even sing the theme tune if you like.

Since then I’ve jogged along on the spot to the 10,000m, cultivated a southpaw stance to ultimately prevail in the battle against the sofa cushion, roared on anyone who happened to wear a British vest and whinged constantly at the inept commentators. Athletics has always been the blue riband – to this day I cannot say the phrase ‘Olympic champion’ without some hint of gravitas, just as Ron Pickering would do. In a world fast losing its sense of true value, it means something still. Continue reading…

Olympics: Being There – Equestrian Dressage

Tom Bodell was at the Dressage on Day 6 of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Equestrian, Greenwich Park

When tickets for London 2012 were finally confirmed in 2011, I wasn’t overly excited at the prospect of watching equestrian dressage. First and foremost, I didn’t have the faintest idea what dressage was actually meant to be. As I sit down this evening having returned from Greenwich, I can safely say I have a much better idea of what dressage is comprised of, and, to my great surprise, found it to be extremely good viewing live. Continue reading…

Olympics: Being There – Road Cycling

Continuing the experiences of contributors of The Substantive at the Games, Mark Perryman writes about his day at the Time Trials as Bradley Wiggins won Great Britain a Gold on the Road at the London 2012 Olympics.

Time Trials, Hampton Court Palace

No expensive and hard-to-come-by ticket required. A front row seat guaranteed. Precious little commercialisation, bring your own barbecue. And a Gold Medal performance. Wednesday’s Cycling Time Trial had all the components of the better Olympics I have made the case for in my book Why The Olympics Aren’t Good For Us And How They Can Be. Continue reading…

GB Football: Qualification

Tom Bodell continues to chart the progress of the reformed Men’s Great British Football Team, as a victory over Uruguay ensures qualification from the Group Stages at London 2012.

The legendary England manager Sir Alf Ramsey once labelled the Uruguay national side as ‘animals’, on tonight’s showing the World Cup winner’s sentiments are still prevalent 46 years later.

In an encounter between what should have been the two best teams in Group A of the men’s Olympic football, the antics of the South Americans spoiled a game which, on paper, was rightly billed as a crucial clash in the group. In actuality it was a fairly tepid affair, lit up only by the tempestuous nature of Luis Suarez and his band of chums. Continue reading…

Olympics: Being There – Swimming

Swimming Heats, Aquatic Centre, Olympic Park

While week two in the Olympics is traditionally dominated by Track and Field, the first week’s blue ribbon event has long been the Swimming, a sport which has featured in every modern Games. In the eighties, while Daley Thompson and Sebastian Coe were headline news in week two, it was the start of the games at the pool, with a quick turnaround between races and a consistent intensity in competition, that captured the imagination. It dominated the schedules as well, replacing Why Don’t You?, Heidi and even Test Match Cricket from BBC1, and that prominent place of Olympic Swimming in the British consciousness was evident in a packed Aquatic Centre for a short session of heats on the morning of Day 4, London 2012. Continue reading…

Olympics: Being There – Water Polo

Continuing The Substantive series of dispatches on the London 2012 Olympics from writers at The Games, Mark Perryman shares his experience from attending the Water Polo on Day 3.

Water Polo, Water Polo Arena, Olympic Park

Over the past few days I’ve lost count of the number of politicians decrying critics of the Olympics. Labour’s newly appointed ‘Olympic Legacy Adviser’ Tony Blair has returned to one of his favourite themes, declaring war on cynicism. Boris Johnson joins the chorus of boasts that the Games proves London to be the world’s greatest city. And in the press Jonathan Freedland has been amongst those demanding that enthusiasm for the Games must trump any tendency towards critique.

What none of these, and plenty of others, appear capable of recognising is that it is perfectly possible to be both a fan of the Olympics and a critic. When I passed through the Olympic Park turnstiles  I was both looking forward to the event we had tickets to see but also entirely aware of the limitations of the Games model as insisted upon by the IOC and dutifully followed by Seb Coe and LOCOG. Continue reading…

Olympics: Being There – Men’s Football

Senegal v Uruguay and GB v UAE at Wembley, Sunday 29 July 2012

Despite the minor mishaps, London 2012 has started well. There were none of the major problems in delivery past Host Cities have faced, with the issue of calling in the public services to bail out G4S typical of wider issues than those related to the Games. For over a week before the official opening the anticipation has been noticeable on commuter trains in and out of London, a dominant form of conversation between strangers who usually would otherwise be looking down at their phones. Likewise the Torch Relay’s journey through all 33 London Boroughs brought people and communities together both in deprived areas as well as at parties and in one-off events.

On a train out of London the night of the Opening Ceremony children from North Wales were excitedly talking about how they had met Athletes where they were “Guards of Honour”, an early example of Legacy and a reminder how sport can instantly inspire. It was a Ceremony that instilled pride in Britain and a great start to the Games, with the large TV audience answering cynics who cited apathy towards the cultural festival that the United Kingdom is lucky enough to have for two weeks.

On the first full day of action BBC’s new 24 channels quickly became sporting fan’s delight, a selection box with numerous sports attracting attention. In fact after Day 1 the only big disappointment were the empty seats at venues where demand was high and millions of applicants had previously been unsuccessful. There were few empty seats in Wembley Stadium by the time the Great Britain’s men football team kicked-off the second game of a double bill last night, with most of the vacant places caused by those still queuing for food and drink as the only debit card accepted for payment was no longer accepted for payment, as basic technology failed. Continue reading…

GB Football Team: Wembley Win

Continuing his pieces on the men’s GB Football Team reformed for the London 2012 Olympics, Tom Bodell reports on tonight’s win against the UAE at Wembley Stadium.

Team GB upped their performance in a 3-1 victory over an impressive United Arab Emirates side tonight, that for a frustrating second-half period looked like they would become the second side to take points from Stuart Pearce’s side in the London 2012 Olympic football.

With three changes from the side which stuttered to a draw in their opening group game against Senegal, Team GB were much more fluid from the off with round pegs put to use in round holes. Continue reading…

GB Football Team: Stuttering Start

Tom Bodell continues his pieces for The Substantive on the newly formed men’s British football team competing under the banner of ‘Team GB’ in London 2012, reflecting on their opening draw with Senegal at Old Trafford.

For the second time in six days it was hardly classic stuff from Stuart Pearce’s Team GB, who, by full-time, could quite easily have been grateful to take a point from their opening match of London 2012. Continue reading…

Olympics: Ring of Steel

Mark Perryman argues that as the private sector fail the Olympics, with the army cleaning up the mess made by G4S, those that fought against terror overseas will now be tasked with checking for sandwiches and ‘Free Tibet’ flags to appease the sponsors of the Games.

Munich ‘72 will always remain one of the most iconic of all Olympic Games. Not so much for Olga Korbut’s impish performance in the Gymnastics or the Gold Medal haul of Mark Spitz in the pool. It is the lethal carnage resulting from the Israeli athletes being taken hostage by the Palestinian Black September group that Munich will always be remembered for. Continue reading…



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