Day thirteen brought a number of unprecedented victories, including three magnificent Gold Medal performances by female members of Team GB – Nicola Adams won the first ever women’s boxing final in the Olympics, Charlotte Dujardin won her second, and Britain’s first-ever individual, Gold medal in Equestrian Dressage with team-mate Laura Bechtolsheimer taking Bronze, and 19-year-old Jade Jones earned Britain’s first-ever Tae Kwondo Gold Medallist late last night in the Excel centre.
But the highlights of the day came in the Athletics, where Usain Bolt once more lit-up the Olympic Stadium by retaining his 200-metre title, the first time that any runner has retained both sprinting titles. And who would bet against him making it a hat-trick in 2016, although this time he was pushed hard by his fellow-Jamaicans Yohan Blake and Warren Weir, who took the minor placings to spark ecstatic celebrations on their home island that, unsurprisingly, lasted all through the night.
But there was another runner who put-in what Sebastian Coe described as possibly the best performance of the Games, and he should know because he twice won a Silver Medal in the 800 metres during the 1980s. Kenyan David Rudisha took the title last night, beating his own world record whilst pulling the other seven runners in that final to personal bests. This included Britain’s Andrew Osagie who may have come eighth, but ran the fourth fastest time for a Briton of all time, a time that would have given him the Gold Medal in any of the previous three games.
For the TV viewer, it was a day when unusual sports presented some quite spectacular pictures. There was the mayhem of BMX Racing, where bike riders seemed to spend more time in the air on the straight bits, or crashing into each other on the bends, than on two wheels pedalling like fury. But when they did, they reached speeds of forty miles-an-hour, spectacularly-quick for adults riding kiddie-sized machines.
Then there were the artistic events. The Dressage, something that may have sounded from the introduction by the commentator like an equestrian edition of ‘Strictly’, but was in fact an event of some beauty, with human and animal exhibiting total trust and teamwork in a precision routine set to music. The Rhythmic Gymnastics are always fascinating, this time assisted by some quite extravagant costumes, and then there’s the Synchronised Swimming. I have to admit to this probably being the event that might be chosen by my nemesis as a punishment for me to view eternally, but there was not a spare seat in the Aquatic Centre and about all that was missing from the spectacle was the odd sequined noseclip.
Across on the BBC News Channel, life is beginning to return to their version of normality, as they concentrate more on setting the scene for the series of depressive stories they have lined-up for us in the week or so between these Games and their Paralympic successors. There has apparently been an internal spat over a memo circulated suggesting that the Director General was complaining about over-patriotic coverage – clearly someone has missed Bond, Edwards, Bruce, et al having a right old go for the entire fortnight. It eventually transpired that it wasn’t the DG who circulated the instruction, but one lady who hasn’t been covering herself in glory. This easily-offended director has been manoeuvring for position, perceiving the axe may start falling on some of the worst offenders. If that implement is to be sharpened for use, it should be for lousy journalistic results, not perceived-jingoism, and whoever she is, she clearly has never witnessed American coverage of the Ryder Cup.
Hopefully Mark Thompson will see through this blatantly-politically-correct move by an over-ambitious apparatchik and spike an image of her head atop a virtual olympic wall of BBC shame that is becoming quite crowded.