“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
We awakened this morning to the sound of inevitability – a three-day thrashing to complete an Ashes whitewash that was on the cards as soon as The Urn was lost pre-Christmas. The story was a familiar one this winter – an opening session-and-a-half that had the Aussie top-order all back in the hutch for less than a ton, then the turnaround that culminated on day three in an England side all-out within 35 overs to lose by almost as many runs as they totalled in the match.
When three’s not a crowd – Peter, Urn and Michael
Back at the end of the summer series, I commented that there wasn’t much between these sides, and certainly the three-nil home series result was flattering. It would seem that, in a very short time, the Aussie coaches used the relative adversity of that result to stoke-up the performance levels in their squad – and it worked. Harris has carried-on his good work of the summer – that opener of the second innings in Perth that got Cook was one of the best innings-first-balls I have ever seen; in fact, had I bowled one like that, I might just have announced my immediate retirement, knowing I would probably be unable to reproduce it. Continue Reading
Well, at least the BBC Doom-Mongers gave us a day off before they transformed their bulletins back to the news equivalent of Leonard Cohen songs.
Volunteers from London 2012 still Feeling Good!
Today we were told that rail fares will be going up, that the Eurozone is almost in recession and that 54% of people think the Olympic spirit will be short-lived. The first of those subjects was delivered with a technique that had been temporarily-retired for the last two weeks – the ratchet. 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.
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