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Tags  →  london 2012 olympics


This 18-year old Middlesbrough teenager appeared on BBC Breakfast a short while back, and I can tell you that she has a smile that can light up your entire day.

Her name is Jade Jones, and she's a T54 wheelchair track athlete for Great Britain and the British record holder over 400/5000m.

She represented GB at the London 2012 Paralympics, and won the bronze medal in the women's para-sport 1500m in the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

The London 2012 Olympics were watched by a good proportion of the entire planet. The USA, however, largely missed out on the London 2012 Paralympics, due to a perceived or actual lack of interest by USA viewers (or maybe just by NBC), and so missed out on an extraordinary communal party that equalled or even eclipsed the Olympics.

The sheer feel-good factor of both events lifted the spirits of Britain (and maybe other countries) in a way that is good to look back on now. However the Paralympics also changed forever the view of “disability” for everyone who watched it.

I observed afterwards that the American political system (unlike very many American people) seems to suffer more than most from disability, dysfunction, negativity, under-achievement, non-cooperation and meanness of spirit - the exact opposite of what we watched, especially in the Paralympics.

There has been so much to enjoy in the recent Commonwealth Games, not least the fact that normal and para events have been integrated. It seems quite normal (at least to UK audiences) now. The larger Olympics, at least in 2016, won't be able to integrate the events in this way, but only because (I have heard) they would simply become too large.

The Olympics and Paralympics were the best thing to happen in Britain (IMO) in 2012, and perhaps for many years to come. Because of this, I put a lot of effort into recording the events, with images, commentary and links to some great music, for my own benefit and maybe for others who missed out:

The short version (from my web site):

[The beautiful games]

The full versions (linked to from the short version):

[Olympics opening ceremony]
[International inspiration to young people: Jessica Ennis and Denise Lewis]
[The fabulous Olympics closing ceremony]
[The stunning Paralympics opening ceremony (visit this, if nothing else!)]
[Royal Mail commemorative stamps, one for each paralympic gold medal winner (with links to each winner featured)]
[My review of the Paralympics, and the closing ceremony]


I'm suffering withdrawal symptoms from the London 2012 Olympics. For more than 2 weeks (a lot longer if you include the Torch Relay) the UK has seemed a different, happier and more community-minded place. For these weeks we were a country of street parties, picnics in parks, crowds jostling each other during the rush hour in the best of humour, smiling mounted police riding along the edge of a huge crowd gathered for a road race, slapping hands with the lifted hands of spectator after spectator, completely deserted streets in housing estates that would suddenly ring to a simultaneous shout of YES! ... and it just went on and on.

Along with goodness-only-knows how many other people, on the final day I watched the BBC's coverage leading up to and through the Closing Ceremony, from which my screenshots below come.



The first set of screenshots is from the signing-off montage, which the BBC does so well at the end of major sporting events (e.g. Wimbledon):


People will always remember the magnificent Opening Ceremony that began it all


A new pride in Team GB, which we somehow all felt part of (one of the LED panels from the audience pixel system is partly visible here, see later)


These guys were really flying. Did you see the BMX events, at one of many superb new venues created for the Games?


Gemma Gibbons in tears after winning a silver medal in Judo (our first Judo medal for 12 years), crying "I love you Mum".

She lost her mother Jeanette to Leukemia - Jeanette encouraged her daughter to take up the sport at their local judo club when Gemma was just six years old.


Victoria Pendleton has just been beaten in the sprint final (Victoria's last ever race) by the Australian Anna Meares, her great friend and rival, in Victoria's last ever race... the whole spirit of the Games is right here


Tears of joy from Anna Meares at winning her gold medal for Australia


One of Team GB's (and Scotland's) greatest moments...


...and another


Woooohoooo...


Chris Hoy MBE, now our greatest Olympian, with plenty to smile about


London has been a more magical place than usual in the past few weeks


From the coverage leading up to the Closing Ceremony:


240,000 people applied to be volunteer Game Makers. 70,000 were accepted, and their contribution to the Games was incredible. They weren't all from the UK, either; the two white-haired ladies on the left, just interviewed by Clare Balding, were from Adelaide and Michigan (the latter, nearest the camera, is an ex-heptathlete). The volunteer that Claire is talking to has just decided to re-enlist for the Paralympics.

During this part of the broadcast we were also seeing congratulatiory Tweets coming in from many famous sporting names.

This was shot in Greenwich Park, a wonderful venue used for equestrian events overlooking the Olympic Park (now returned to the public)


From the Closing Ceremony itself (some great pictures from which will be found here ):


Athletes from all countries filling the arena, transforming it into one great party


John Lennon performing "Imagine", one of the theme songs for the evening, in a video restored by Yoko Ono especially for the event. He joined an incredibly moving performance of the song by the Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Choir performing alongside the Liverpool Signing Choir (if you follow only one link in this post, please follow this one)


Representatives of the 70,000 volunteer Game Makers received a special award, to immense applause


The concert started with the spine-tingling harmonies that open Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" - and a gasp went up as the spectator area was transformed into a giant oscilloscope with complex sound patterns shown visually...


...courtesy of the amazing "audience pixels" system - a vast, stadium-wide video surface comprising a custom-built 9-pixel LED panel mounted between every one of the stadium's seats (no still picture can do justice to it), whose wiring was an engineering feat in itself (some great pictures of the system in use will be found here)...


...Annie Lennox approaching the camera in the prow of a ship, with the audience pixel system in full use behind her


The Spice Girls, still as popular as ever, performing as a quintet probably for the last time (photos)


Freddie Mercury leading the enthusiastically-responding audience from beyond the grave...


...followed by Brian May CBE of Queen in a solo performance that (IMO) knocked the socks off any of the other rock music performed on this evening



Sebastian Coe, former great athlete and the father of these Games, making one of the two closing speeches (the other from President of the IOC, Jacques Rogge, one of our favourite Frenchmen).

Lord Coe's speech was full of pride for the London 2012 achievement and thanks for everyone that contributed to it, including the team that built the venue...


... and he gave special thanks to the volunteer Game Makers, who got a long standing ovation from the huge crowd (and to the many members of the armed forces and police who kept the games safe discreetly and with great humour, which also drew a huge cheer)


A sad moment as the flames in that wonderful cauldron were slowly extinguished (but I loved the symbolic Phoenix)...



...leaving us with so much to celebrate, not least the all-important Legacy that this Games has focused on so strongly


If I had the power, I would give a gold medal to everyone who brought these Games about, and to everyone who made them such a wonderful occasion (including the BBC commentary team). And I would bring down a horrible pox on everyone (including some of the BBC news team) who cast every kind of doubt on London 2012 before it happened (and even during it), constantly reporting as "news" opinions about forthcoming disasters and bad organisation that failed completely to materialise.

A great part of the achievement of the people who bid for and mounted the Games was overcoming the miserable doom-sayers, who between them have probably never created anything worthwile in their entire lives. Such people talk about "costs" when others talk about "achievements" and "earnings". No doubt they will find every reason why the Olympic Legacy won't happen properly - and I bet that they will be just as wrong.

This was indeed the greatest party on the planet. I hope that people from other countries enjoyed it as much as we did!


One of the best features of the Olympics (IMO) is the inspiration that it provides for young people - and two inspiring (and beautiful!) Olympic athletes are the heptathlon champions Jessica Ennis and Denise Lewis.

Jessica Ennis MBE was awarded, among many other things, "Most Inspirational Sportswoman of the Year" at the 2010 Jaguar Academy of Sport Annual Awards.

Denise Lewis OBE, now retired from athletics and one of the BBC's regular commentators at the London 2012 Olympics, won gold at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. In July 2009, Denise became an International Inspiration Ambassador for London 2012's international sports legacy programme.

(Click the images for their various sources.)




Denise at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996


Denise appearing on Desert Island Discs

London 2012's international sports legacy programme is making a big difference to the lives of young people all around the world. Check it out!




I greatly enjoyed this TV movie, both for the inspiring odd-couple partnership of posh Bert Bushnell (Sam Hoare) and grammar-school boy Dickie Burnell (Matt Smith, a.k.a. Doctor Who), and for the insight into how different the 1948 London austerity Olympics were from those of today.

And yes, in those days etching really was an Olympic event! For the full story on that, see here.



And yesterday, another wonderful achievement by Helen Glover and Heather Stanning, one of whose parents described them as having very different temperaments (one hyper, one seriously laid-back) that somehow fitted together perfectly.

From this article:
...

Dickie and Bertie trained for only a month as a team and, after winning the gold medal, went their separate ways. Helen and Heather are from a different world, one of hi-tech training, calorie-perfect diets, national funding and all performed in the gaze of the media. Dickie and Bertie, along with their Great Britain team-mates, drank lots of wine, sang rowing songs, caroused with waitresses and (the high point of riotous behaviour in those days) threw bread rolls.

You would hope Helen and Heather have a similarly enjoyable, maybe less rowdy an evening, the 26-year-old former hockey international Glover and the 27-year-old Royal Artillery officer Stanning, who goes back into uniform soon and may even be serving her country in Afghanistan before the end of the year.

This, though, was their peaceful battlefield. If they could have done so on Wednesday, we would have asked them to do it all over again. If they could have done so, they probably would have. More...




And again! A great performance from Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins. Whether on the water or on two wheels, this seems to be Team GB's year!






A small selection of images from the linked page - click any image to see them all

This was a fabulous event... it had everything that was good (and quirky) about Britain, and really reflected the true Olympic spirit.

People will long remember the Queen and James Bond, and Rowan Atkinson's unique contribution to "Chariots of Fire", but I especially loved the way in which it included everybody, from the people who built the Olympic Park (500 of whom lined the entrance of the torch into the stadium) to the next generation of young athletes to be inspired by the spirit of the games, who collectively lit the Olympic Flame, to Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the man who invented the World Wide Web - in his words, "This Is For Everyone".

Danny Boyle did us proud. The spectacle was truly awesome (England's transition from a bucolic landscape through the Industrial Revolution was stunning) and the cauldron and its lighting was a masterpiece of art and Olympic symbolism. But if I had to pick one word to sum it all up, it would be "heart".

It was also the climax to the Olympic Torch Relay which during 70 days took the Olympic Flame all over the UK, the Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey, in a route designed to pass within an hour's travel of at least 95% of the whole population. It seemed at times like one continuous street party (often in pouring rain), with the flame passed by one torch-bearer to another, inspirational "local heroes" of all kinds nominated by each community.

It's hard to imagine a better start to what might be the most inclusive, inspirational Olympic Games ever.


[All of my posts on the London 2012 Olympics]
[All of my posts on the London 2012 Paralympics]