I am now set to be more alert in the day, in a much better mood and my sleep patterns will soon be back to normal. The only problem is; I have to wait four whole years to do it again.
The London 2012 Olympic Games was a resounding success and quite possibly the best games ever. As was the case in Sydney there were various problems with security before the opening ceremony and there was even a lack of interest leading in. But since then Olympic fever gripped the city and, as the athletes depart, only now will it begin to let go.
On a team front, the highlight of the games was far and away the performance of the host nation. They won ten more gold than they did four years ago and 18 more medals in total. They dominated in the velodrome, at the city’s rowing venue and did particularly well in track and field. Highlights were the performances of heptathlete Jessica Ennis, triathlete Alistair Brownlee and cyclist Sir Chris Hoy who won a further two gold medals to add to his collection of four.
Things weren’t so successful for Australia. We collected seven gold medals, down from 14 at Beijing and we won 35 medals, 11 less than we did four years ago. Sailing was easily our most successful sport as we ended up with three gold and one silver medal in that discipline. While overall it was slightly disappointing for Australia, an abundance of minor medals means we are there abouts in a lot of events.
In regards to individual performances there are a few that stick out. Michael Phelps in the pool, David Rudisha and Usain Bolt on the track, and, my personal favourite, Steven Kiprotich in the men’s marathon.
Phelps has officially announced his retirement from the sport and all I can think now is ‘finally he has given the others a chance to win!’. In his first race at London things looked grim for Phelps who finished fourth in the 400 metre individual medley event, but it wasn’t a sign of things to come. He ended up with gold in the 200m individual medley, the 100m butterfly, the 4x200m freestyle relay and the 4x100m medley relay. He also won silver in the 200m butterfly and the 4x100m freestyle relay. Phelps is now the most decorated Olympian of all time with 22 medals, 18 of which are gold.
Kenyan David Rudisha’s performance in the 800m footrace was also a huge highlight of the games. Rudisha’s time of 1.40.91 was a new world record but the real highlight of the race was that almost every athlete behind him ran a personal best. It was a race that typified the Olympic spirit and showed what running at an Olympics can do to an athlete.
Not much can be said about Usain Bolt that hasn’t already been said. He is and has been for some time now, the face of athletics. He has been huge for a sport that has shown signs of deterioration in recent times. He has brought spark and interest back into running and now millions of kids across the globe will ‘want to be like Usain’. He won gold in the men’s 100m sprint, men’s 200m sprint and the mens 4x100m sprint, which Jamaica smashed the world record in. He is a self declared ‘legend’ of the sport and has told the media he is taking a well-earned break before getting back into training. He also has said that participating in long-jump is not out of the question.
Finally, my highlight of the games came on the final day of competition. He won his country’s first gold medal in 40 years and did it in impressive fashion.
Steven Kiprotich, representing Uganda put in a stellar performance. He wasn’t predicted to feature on the medal dais let alone right in the middle. The favourite was Wilson Kipsang who placed third after leading for a huge chunk of the race. Kiprotich’s win made great viewing. With about six kilometres left he was out of the race completely. He had dropped off the pace and the two Kenyan’s ahead of him didn’t look headed. But, either he found a second wind or was playing a few mind games (I like to think it was the latter), he stormed right past the two of them who were left shocked. He continued to pull away and the smile he wore for the last few kilometres of the race was won of complete joy. He crossed the line easily and looked as if he could keep going for another 42 kilometres. His journey away from his family in Uganda to Kenya when he was just 17 finally paid off.
While it is always hard to compare Olympics I think London’s effort just fell short of the Sydney Olympics in regards to being the ‘best ever’ but I may or may not be blinded by bias on that one.
Great effort London, you have some big shoes to fill Rio.