My first memory of the Olympics spectacle date back to the 1988 Seoul Olympics when Ben Johnson of Canada won the 100 metres race beating the favourite and reigning champion Carl Lewis of USA and set a new world record and for the first time an athlete had broken the 10 seconds barrier in the Olympics 100 metres race and that photograph of Johnson pointing his fingers towards the sky became a signature photograph; rest is as they say is history; Johnson tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs and was stripped of the WR and the Gold Medal; Carl Lewis retained his Olympic Title and set a new WR as well!!
And the Love Affair with Olympics started…it continued during Barcelona (1992), Atlanta (1996), Sydney (2000), Athens (2004) and Beijing (2008)…I used to follow all the games on Newspapers and on the Internet in the recent years but have never before followed any Sporting Event more closely than the London 2012 Olympics and I enjoyed my virtual participation 😉 and discussing the games with my friends offline and majorly on FB!!!
London was announced as the venue for the 2012 Olympics on 6 July 2005 and it was a tragic & infamous start as the London Tube Bombings happened less than 24 hours after the announcement. But London had seven years to prepare and they did a great job indeed…
The Opening Ceremony was held on 27 July and was called “Isles of Wonder”. Danny Boyle was the director and as expected he did a marvelous job but IMHO it was a shade lower than the Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony which was technically and visually far more superior…I loved the Daniel Craig act and my favourite part was the lighting of the Olympic Cauldron which was described as “one of the best-kept secrets of the opening ceremony” – everybody including me was expecting the routine process; one athlete running and then lighting the cauldron with a torch but Danny Boyle blew everybody with his rendition! Taken from Wikipedia: Each young athlete was greeted by their nominating Olympian, and each presented with their own torches, which were lit from the Olympic flame. The young athletes then jogged through a passageway formed between the assembled athletes to the centre of the stadium, where the 205 copper petals (each inscribed with the name of the team it had accompanied) were now seen attached to long pipes in a circular formation (the petals will accompany each team home after the Games). The seven young athletes lit some of the petals, and when the flame had spread to all of them, they slowly rose to converge and form the Olympic cauldron.
And how can controversy stay behind especially wrt India 😉 One female named Madhura Nagendra walked along our Flag-Bearer Sushil Kumar smiling her way to glory…and she was not supposed to be there! There have been various spoofs relating her infamous walk to other entry stunts as well! By far she was the most unforgettable non-athlete for Indians in these Olympics!
So on 28th July 2012 the London 2012 Olympics finally started with around 10,500 athletes representing 204 countries and across 26 sports and a total of 39 disciplines. For the first time there was a female participation amongst all the representing countries (yes, even Saudi Arabia had a female athlete) and it was a big step going forward! Another conservative country – Qatar also made history as a female athlete was their flag bearer in the OC!
16 days of sporting action…302 events…962 medals to be won…and many more records to be broken…The first Gold Medal was won by Italy in the men’s team final event of Archery defeating USA…and the last was won by Laura Asadauskaitė of Lithuania in the Women’sModern pentathlon Event just hours before the start of the closing ceremony…
32 World Records were broken and set in these Olympics…USA topped the Medal standings with a total of 104 medals (46 G, 29 S and 29 B) followed by China in the Number 2 position – 87 medals (38 G, 27 S and 22 B) and the host nation Great Britain in the Number 3 position – 65 medals (29 G, 17 S and 19 B)…the others in the Top 10 (in order) were: Russia, South Korea, Germany, France, Italy, Hungary and Australia. 85 countries out of the 204 participating countries won atleast a medal! 54 won at least one gold medal. Bahrain, Botswana, Cyprus, Gabon, Grenada, Guatemala, and Montenegro each won its first Olympic medal ever, with Grenada’s being gold. Even Kuwait won a Bronze Medal! Their second medal ever…won by their Shooter Fehaid Al-Deehani who got the medal in the Men’s Trap Shooting Event…and he is the one who won the first-ever Medal for Kuwait in the 2000 Sydney Olympics too – a bronze!
The most exciting events of any Olympics are in the Athletics Stream and this time it was no different either! Usain Bolt the star winning 3 Gold Medals and repeating his hat-trick from BeijingOlympics….I am sure nobody can deny the fact that he is a legend! What a performance from the tall Jamaican…and his showman skills….I haven’t seen a more confident sportsperson ever in my life…helmets off to Usain Bolt!
IMHO the second biggest star of these Olympics was the American Michael Phelps who was competing in his last Olympics and being the legend he is, he had to bid farewell in the grandest possible style! He became the most decorated Olympian of all time with 22 medals and also breaking the record for winning the most number of 18 gold medals; in London, Phelps won four golds and two silver medals…just read this for a data point: if Michael Phelps were a country then he would have been at a position of “47” in the all-time Olympic Medals List!!!
And the third biggest star was Oscar Pistorius the South African athlete also known as the “Blade Runner” and “the fastest man on no legs”… in London, he became the first double leg amputee to participate in the Olympics when he entered the men’s 400 metres race and was part of South Africa’s 4 × 400 metres relay team! One of the biggest examples of dogged determination and a true sports champion! He didn’t win any Medal in these Olympics but for me his achievement is nothing short of a gold medal!
The best and the most brilliant celebration of a medal was by far that of Robert Harting of Germanywho won the Men’s Discuss Throw Gold Medal…this photograph would tell you why!
The quote of the Olympics:
“Basically, we are not human; we dropped from space like Mr Bean. Mr Bean is not a normal guy, he makes jokes. We are not normal guys. We are from space, I am from Mars.” – Jamaica‘s Yohan Blake
And then there was the Indian Olympic Contingent…competing for the hopes of 1.4 billion Indians…it was our biggest Olympic contingent ever – 83 athletes to compete in 13 sports… India finally won 6 medals – 2 silver and 4 bronze which is by far the best performance by India in terms of number of medals won at any single Olympic games. – the next best was 3 in the preceding 2008 Beijing Olympics…The biggest shame was the Indian Hockey Team which failed to win a single group match and finished last amongst the 12 participating teams – their worst-ever performance; a bit better than Beijing though where they even failed to qualify! The first Indian Medallist was Shooter Gagan Narangwho won a Bronze Medal in the Men’s 10 m air rifle event on 30 July and the last but not the least and infact by winning his second individual Olympic medal was our Wrestler Sushil Kumar who won the Silver in the Men’s 66kg Freestyle Wrestling category on the last day of these games on 12 August…Our boxer Mary Kom created history by winning the first-ever medal of the Women’s Boxing Category in the History of Olympics! And our biggest medal hope Saina Nehwal had to settle with a Bronze Medal who won her match as her Chinese opponent retired due to a knee injury…but that medal winning photograph where she is standing with the 2 Chinese is one of my favorite ones signifying the Indian Challenge to the Chinese Domination in Women’s Badminton!
The biggest surprise was the shooter Vijay Kumar’s Silver Medal as he wasn’t expected to win but it surely made us very happy indeed! For me the best win was of Yogeshwar Dutt who won 3 tough wrestling bouts consecutively in the Repechage bouts to earn the Bronze Medal!
The final tally:Medal Name Sport Event
Silver Vijay Kumar Shooting Men’s 25 m rapid fire pistol
Silver Sushil Kumar Wrestling Men’s 66kg Freestyle
Bronze Gagan Narang Shooting Men’s 10 m air rifle
Bronze Saina Nehwal Badminton Women’s singles
Bronze Mary Kom Boxing Women’s flyweight
Bronze Yogeshwar Duttt Wrestling Men’s 60kg Freestyle
Hope these 6 medallists can inspire millions of other Indian Athletes and we can hit the magical double figure in the 2016 Rio Olympics!
Amidst all my Olympics hyper-excitement I started a specific page on Facebook named Nishant Jha’s Olympics 2012 Updates as I thought I was spamming all of my friend’s FB News Feed by bombarding them with Olympic Updates….and luckily (some say it was a good omen) just moments after making this page Vijay Kumar won our first Silver Medal of these Olympics! It was great fun posting all those updates, interacting with all my friends on that page and wishing our Olympians the best of luck before each of their contests! I was following these Olympics on 3 TV channels – DD Sports, ESPN and Star Sports in addition to following the official website of the London Olympics and at times following the NDTV Live Feed as well.
But the best news broadcaster for the Indian Participation was a FB Page named Indiaat London Olympics 2012 which was by far the most popular news feed for Indians on FB atleast!
Yesterday I followed the last Olympic Event –Women’sModern pentathlon Event and then got ready to watch the Closing Ceremony which was another fun event and was a musical blast with host of British Musicians participating and the biggest surprise was a Bhangra Show with our Punjabi Music and Bhangra Dance portrayed! An amazing moment it was…
So finally the London 2012 Olympics ended and on a big high indeed! And I am sure the next Olympics – Rio 2016 would be equally brilliant and fantastic!
Here’s wishing Great Britain & London a big thanks and Brazil & Rio the very best of luck and hope I would be able to catch all the action in the same way as I did during these Olympics!
Big thanks to my wife Bandita for being such a great partner during the Olympics…she was always there to discuss the matches, medals, wins, losses and all those mindless comments which I make! plus she also tolerated my 100% attention on updating the latest action on FB! Plus thanks to Ramadan here in Middle East and the curtailed office timings & work-load that I could follow this mega-event religiously for all these days!!!
So till the time we meet again…
Cheers to life…
Till then ride safe and have safe sex…
Hasta la Victoria Siempre…