It may have seemed like a bit of an anti-climax after Saturday’s amazing performances but, numerically, Day Nine was the most successful so far for Team GB, with a total of eight medals being won across six different sports.
Andy Murray finally found a way to beat Roger Federer at Wimbledon, and how emphatically he did so, losing just seven games on the way to a straight-sets win to take the Men’s Singles Gold. Not much more than an hour later, he and his Mixed Doubles partner Laura Robson were a set-up on top seeds Azarenka and Mirnyi, but the Belorussians powered back to take the final two sets and the GB pair had to settle for Silver.
The day’s other Gold came almost inevitably from Ben Ainslie in the Laser Class at the Sailing, his fourth consecutive win in this event making him the most successful sailor in Olympic history. “Will you do it again in four years’ time?” asked the increasingly-embarrassing Gary Lineker in an OB-link interview. “I really don’t know,” came the perfunctory reply from the yachtsman, “four years is a long time, do you think you will still be doing Match of the Day in 2016?” Lineker’s spluttered reply was probably the most eloquent confirmation that he won’t be, following his shallow-minded displays during these Olympics, a performance that has finally shown just how far out of his depth he is once any conversation goes beyond “the lads done well.”
Also in the Sailing, Ian Percy and Andrew Simpson won Silver in the Star Class. Having comfortably led the field going into the final medal race, their worst result of the entire regatta, combined with a win from their closest rivals, meant that they just failed to retain their title. On the track, Christine Ohuruogo also fell just short in her attempt to retain her Women’s 400 Metre title, also adding a Silver to her Beijing success.
In the Gymnastics, Louis Smith put in an outstanding performance of the highest difficulty on the Pommel Horse to end up with an identical score to the Hungarian defending champion, who retained his title by having a slightly higher execution score, meaning Smith went one better than Beijing winning the Silver. Nineteen-year-old team-mate Max Whitlock took the Bronze in the same event. In the cycling, Ed Clancy won Bronze in the Men’s Omnium.
There is sufficient steady progress in the various qualifying rounds to suggest that the medal momentum will be maintained through to the end of the second week, and although some marvellous performances by competitors achieving personal bests have not yet made the headlines, in amongst so much coverage over a two-week period, no broadcaster can be expected to get everything right. Indeed, judging by comments I have received from the USA and Australia, it would be entirely wrong to give the impression that the Beeb is plumbing the depths that some of those nations’ broadcasters have been achieving!
Other than missing Andy Murray’s embrace of his mother, having scaled the walls of Wimbledon’s VIP Box after winning his Gold medal yesterday, probably the worst faux pas for the Beeb was cutting to that penalty shoot-out in Cardiff straight after all those marvellous scenes in the main stadium on Saturday night. This was one performance that was probably best buried behind the many successes, but the BBC unfortunately made us all witness it live.
The men’s football team didn’t have a disaster, per se, instead simply emulating their usual level of performance by losing a quarter-final on penalties. Of course, this was essentially a scratch side, made-up from just two of the four home nations, the other two having indulged in selfish-politicking rather than enter the spirit of the Games by not banning their players from taking part.
Had I been the producer, I might have waited to see if they won it or not, then if they did run the VT. Instead we were treated to live coverage of a showboating millionaire who couldn’t decide whether to do his job for the team, or create an iconic moment for his Facebook page. When it all went inevitably pear-shaped, he churlishly shrugged-off any offers of support from his team-mates because he needed to stomp-off down the tunnel to get his smartphone and check how many twits had unfriended him, leaving his coach to ponder whether he had failed to select the one person who would have slotted that penalty home with aplomb. Maybe he didn’t need a role-model in his squad, but the squad clearly did.
It was a stark contrast to what we had been witnessing all week from competitors, and their unselfish families, who are all ordinary people with extraordinary skills exhibiting amazing levels of commitment and dedication, something a professional footballer appears to have surgically-removed by a clause in their latest overpaid contract.
As these games are all about legacy, maybe, just maybe, one will be a final recognition of just how unrepresentative the so-called ‘beautiful game’ is of the real sportsmen and women of this country.