“It’s all gone a bit flat here.” These were the words of BBC 5-Live’s chief football correspondent George Riley in his report from Rio this morning, following England’s rapid exit from the World Cup at the hands, or should that be feet, of Costa Rica – before we had even played them! As might be expected, his report was heavily cliché-ridden, focussing particularly on the need for facing uncomfortable Truths.
Last night’s message from the Costa Rica fans
He was making his comments from the comfort of the massive World Cup Media Centre in Rio de Janeiro, but was he reflecting the mood of England fans in Brazil, or the atmosphere among the thousands of two-bit Fleet Street hacks whose long summer holiday watching the Girl from Ipanema had just been cut drastically short? Because the greatest Truth to be faced here is that, were world cup success for our soccer team measured purely in back-page column-inches, then we would have won more trophies than Brazil and Germany put together. Continue Reading
They promised us a closing ceremony that would be one heck of a party, and as the last Olympians drifted reluctantly away from the Stadium afterwards it was clear that, once again, our organisers had delivered exactly what it said on the tin.
The spirit of the Games rising from the flames
In sixteen extraordinary days of summer in the year 2012, Sebastian Coe and his team showed us that it is possible to have a vision and, if you continue to believe in it and work hard to achieve it, then it will become reality. At the end of his closing speech, Seb captured the whole thing in four words – “We did it right!”
Sure there were a few things that were not quite up to par. The graphics were best forgotten – I still don’t really get the jigsaw puzzle logo – but what they lacked, the imagination displayed by those who decided on the venues and the backdrops to the actual events more than made up for it. Then there was the BBC TV Coverage – sportwise absolutely breathtaking throughout, news-wise at times simply nasty. Even last night, barely minutes after that stunning closing ceremony, David Bond finally reappeared on our screens to snipe at anyone unfortunate-enough to appear in his crosshairs (take my advice, Mr Director General, sack him – sack him now, and all his grubby cronies).
But the rest was nothing short of the description given by the IOC Chairman, Jack Rogge – “Happy and Glorious.” Seems I heard those words regularly in a tune that was played quite a lot in the last fortnight.
It seems strange to think of a quote by a famous baseball coach when you’re watching the final day of Track and Field, but that’s exactly what it felt like as we watched Mo Farah repeat his previous Saturday’s performance, but this time over half the distance.
Mo Farah shows his delight on completing the long distance double.
Mo’s second Gold was described afterwards by Seb Coe as being of “an extraordinary magnitude.” He told BBC radio: “The real challenge of doing the double is not actually the physicality of going through rounds and races, it’s those three to four days between having won an Olympic title and then deciding it’s still important enough in your life to come back on to the track and do it all over again.”
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.
Usain Bolt silences the critics as Jamaica make a clean sweep of the 200 metre sprint medals
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. Continue Reading