Monday, 13 August 2012

The Legacy of London

The Olympic Stadium is set to host Premier League football in the coming years
29 gold, 17 silver and 19 bronze. Great Britain's record-breaking medal haul at London 2012 makes for extremely impressive reading in itself, but beyond the undeniable facts of our achievements, there's so much more we can take from what has been a truly unforgettable Olympic Games.

Just over one year ago, the city of London found itself at the root of a series of riots which spread across England and brought shame upon the nation. The events of the last two weeks have put us back on the map and restored the pride and dignity which had been severely dented. The eyes of the world were upon us and I'm sure all the spectators would agree that we put on a fantastic show.

Our bid, headed by LOCOG (London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games) chairman Sebastian Coe, was centred around one key word...legacy. It wasn't just about what happened between 27th July 2012 and 12th August 2012; it was about what happened in the months and years that followed. Our aim was to make effective use of the venues built for the games, to boost our shattered economy and most importantly of all, to inspire the next generation of athletes. So have we achieved what we set out to do? 

Although the Olympics have ended, the process of fulfilling our promises is still in its infancy. There's very little room to criticise what we've accomplished thus far but we have to build on the triumph and bear in mind that we are still open to scrutiny from across the globe. We must see our plan through and repay the faith that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) showed in us when we were awarded the games back in 2005.

Iconic feats such as Jessica Ennis' emphatic victory in the Heptathlon and Mo Farah's gold medal winning performances in the 5,000 and 10,000 metres will provide plenty of impetus. These two phenomenal athletes are justification alone for the lasting legacy we are craving for. If we can produce talent of that calibre now, there's no reason why we can't do it again in the future. We can't afford to rest on our laurels and have to put all our efforts into repeating the cycle time and time again.   

Such has been the success of the games, there is already talk of London bidding again for 2024. The likelihood of it coming off is slim - simply because the 12 year gap is quite minimal when put into perspective - but anything can happen in sport. Many doubted that we could pick up where Beijing 2008's jaw-dropping showpiece left off but we've done that comfortably and perhaps we can go one better. Rio ought to get their thinking caps on because one thing is for sure, we'll be an incredibly tough act to follow.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Lightning Bolt strikes again

“It’s very rare to repeat success. To win two Olympic 100m titles, nobody else has ever done it. History defines the greatest. You need longevity and consistency." 

The words of back-to-back Olympic 100m champion Carl Lewis (Los Angeles 1984 and Seoul 1988) were most likely spoken in hope rather than genuine belief back in May ( On Sunday night in the Olympic Stadium, Usain Bolt blew Lewis' forecast out of the water as he repeated his predecessor's achievement in emphatic style.

History maker: Bolt crosses the line ahead of Blake and Gatlin

An Olympic record time of 9.63 seconds, the next fastest to his own world record, saw the 25-year-old Jamaican cross the finish line ahead of compatriot Yohan Blake and 2004 champion Justin Gatlin to firmly write his name into the history books and silence his critics.

On reflection, you have to consider whether it was ever in doubt? Hindsight is a wonderful thing but it shouldn't take anything away from the magnitude of Bolt's accomplishment. The 100m sprint is like no other event at the Olympics. The competitors train incredibly hard for four years but it all comes down to a single nine to ten second race. To win the much-coveted title in Beijing in 2008, and then have the hunger to work for it all over again in London against a stronger challenge, is testament to Bolt's attitude and professionalism.

Although he has gained a reputation for being somewhat of a party-goer - it reared its ugly head again in the early hours of Monday morning ( - he's clearly an athlete who knows his limits and abides by them. Nobody is in a position to aim criticism at his lifestyle off the track until it has a direct effect on his performance on it.

It's hard to believe that prior to his triple gold medal triumph in China, not many people had actually heard of the man who is now a household name throughout the world. He may have been billed for stardom by those within the sport but there wasn't anything like the same global expectancy to deliver as there was this time round. Despite suffering his fair share of disappointments over the last four years, particularly disqualification from the 2011 World Championships final after a false start, Bolt has taken everything in his stride and ultimately produced the goods at the right time.

Now, having matched Lewis' incredible feat, he has eyes set on winning the 200m crown and marking himself out as the only man to complete the 'double double'. Victory on Thursday night will propel him to legendary status and almost certainly bring the debate about whether he is the greatest sprinter of all time to a unanimous conclusion.

Ben Johnson, who initially won gold at the 1988 Seoul Olympics before being exposed as a drugs cheat, has previously been quoted as saying that he was '50 years ahead of his time' and that 'Bolt is doing stuff' he was capable of. Surely this is a bit rich coming from an athlete reliant on performance enhancing drugs to reach his ultimate goal?

Success can be manufactured through a variety of means but there is no substitute for class. Bolt has the latter in abundance.