Posts tagged ‘London 2012’
The founder of the modern Olympic Games Baron Pierre de Coubertin was born 150 years ago this year, and one has to wonder how he would feel if as is predicted one of the events he championed is dropped when the IOC meet later this week.
The IOC will decide this week which two of the 26 sports in which athletes vied for Olympic gold in London 2012 will join the other seven sports bidding for inclusion in 2020. Only two sports will be successful and the decision on which two will be made in September.
Modern Pentathlon is believed to be one facing the axe because it does not appeal on television. It is not a sport that impacts the viewer enough according to the television bosses. The question is should what looks good on television out weigh 100 years of tradition? The other sport facing the chop is Taekwondo.
The modern Pentathlon has moved with the times. It used to see all five disciplines of running, shooting, fencing, riding and swimming carried out over five days. In London these feats of endurance were carried out in one day. What is more they actually used laser guns for the first time rather than ones with bullets. Surely that would appeal to the modern generation of teenagers?
If dropped they can bid for re-inclusion in September along with Wushu, Wakeboarding, Karate, Baseball, Roller Sports, Softball, Sports climbing and Squash.
There are many traditionalists who feel that to drop the Pentathlon would be a case of selling the soul of the Olympic Games, and to do it in the Baron’s 150th year anniversary a sacrilege. Sadly there is very little room for sentiment in modern day sport where television tends to dictate everything.
Despite putting on a superb Olympic and Paralympic Games London is left with some severe egg on its face following the Games.
The athletics stadium which took three years to build is now incredibly going to take more than three years to alter it into a multi-purpose stadium in order to have more public use post Games. Understandably questions are being asked at all levels as to how this can be the case. The London Legacy Development Corporation are now in the firing line having failed to allay fears that the stadium conversion will be completed by 2017 for Great Britain to host the World Athletics Championships.
The British Government is legally committed and a failure to deliver this event will result in not only financial cost but massive embarrassment for this proud nation, so soon after a successful Olympic Games.
West Ham United who are looking to move into the stadium have apparently offered a final ‘take it or leave it offer’ which many believe will be left as financially to accept it will mean the public will have to pick up a multi million shortfall. The trouble is if West Ham do not move in as tenants who will?
One man who is saying “I told you so” is Labour Sports Minister Richard Caborn, who was part of the London 2012 bidding team and argued at that time for retractable seating to be factored into the plans, as he believed that not having a Premier League football team in the stadium post Olympics would make the venue unsustainable.
It is to be hoped that the stadium taskforce in Perth are watching these events unfold, and they do not make similar mistakes, when the much talked about multi-purpose stadium is built for AFL.
It is somewhat Ironic to be writing this piece on the 50th anniversary of the Perth British Empire and Commonwealth Games commencing in 1962, as Perry Lakes stadium was built by the Federal Government of the day and was to be ‘a legacy to the people of Western Australia.’ Yet successive governments failed to budget for the stadium’s upkeep, as Athletics was not deemed a mainstream sport, and the venue finally crumbled into a relic and was demolished eighteen months ago to make way for a housing estate. Why is it we continually elect politicians around the world who fail to take responsibility of such massive investments and ensure the public a return on them? Fifty years on and it is still happening.
In today’s world everything is about growth. That is how economists seem to measure success. If that is the case then the London 2012 Paralympic Games truly were an outstanding success.
If you look at the number of competing nations at the games, there were 136 in Athens in 2004, 148 in 2008 in Beijing and in London 164 nations taking part, 15 appearing at their first Paralympic Games.
That would tend to indicate that there would have been more athletes in London, which was the case. There were 4,294 competitors in London in 2012 as opposed to just over 4,200 in Beijing – an official figure is hard to locate – and 3806 in Athens.
Yet the area that had the most growth was pre-sold tickets, with only 1000 pre-sold in Athens, 5000 in Beijing and a staggering 2.3million in London.
If Sydney put the Paralympic Games on the map, London has definitely taken it to another level, and Rio will have a hard act to follow. One of the key reasons for London’s success was the pricing of the tickets. Had they made other avenues to purchase tickets rather than just the internet, they could have even exceeded this figure. Certainly releasing tickets on line between midnight and 5am – as one ticket manager advised – was rather foolish, as very few normal people are on line at that time of night!
While on the subject of growth, there were 500 Paralympians drug tested at the Games as opposed to 200 in Beijing with weightlifters being the most tested.
11.2 million British people watched the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games more than three times the number who watched the opening ceremony in Beijing. However that could well have been down to the time difference and the fact that Great Britain was the host nation, even so it was great that so many people were interested enough to tune in.
Finally, one figure that has not been finalised but after just five days of the Paralympic Games organisers were concerned that the supply of 2,100 condoms was not going to be enough, and so another order was placed for the same amount to last the athletes through until the end of the games! Where do they get the energy!
The IOC were extremely proud that the pressure they allegedly brought to bear ensured that Qatar and Saudi Arabia sent female athletes to the London Games for the first time, but was it ultimately just tokenism?
Saudi Arabian Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shaherkani who took part in the Judo was beaten in less than 90 seconds in her opening bout. Noor Hussain Al-Malki a sprinter from Qatar pulled up in her heat after just four strides and her compatriot table tennis player Alia Mohamed was defeated in just 18 minutes.
Many hailed them as heroes, pioneers for women in these regions, but was this really the case? Should the IOC be looking at their pedigree post Games, to ensure that these were not just selections to placate the Games governing body?
Remember me may be the question that Team GB Paralympic Games footballer Michael Barker may well ask England striker Wayne Rooney. Both were born in Liverpool and although Barker is two years older than the Manchester United striker, they both attended the Everton FC academy.
Unfortunately for Barker a collision with a bus in 1998 left him disabled, yet that did not stop him pursuing his dream. This is his second Paralympics and he helped GB achieve ninth place in Beijing four years ago. He was also part of the team that won bronze at the 2010 World Cup and scored four goals against the USA. He has also won the golden boot at the 2011 Cerebral Palsy World Cup.
He may play in the Liverpool Business Houses League while Rooney battles in the Barclays Premier League, and his former team mate may have been involved in transfers worth GBP25.6 million while he has never commanded a pound, but he can boast to having 31 goals in 34 games compared to Rooney’s 29 in 76 games.
When it comes to doping in sport Tyler Hamilton’s recently released book and the alleged story of Lance Armstrong his former team mate using illegal stimulants is stealing most of the headlines, which must be great news for the International Paralympic Committee.
The reason why it is good news is that very little coverage has been given to the fact that a lack of money has constrained drug tests being carried out at the London 2012 Games. In fact only one medallist in each event is being tested compared to the top five in every Olympic event.
The IPC’s head of Anti Doping Jose Pascual has been quoted as saying ” If I had the money I would do all the athletes.”
Cost has also been the reason given as to why Paralympic samples were kept for three months compared to eight years for the Olympics.
Sadly even in the Paralympics there are those who will do whatever it takes to win, even if it is against the spirit of the games and the rules.
It must be something to do with the southern hemisphere, where mum’s play such a major part in a young athlete’s life. Who can forget Shane Warne blaming his mum for hims taking the wrong pills?
On a more positive note New Zealand Cyclist Chris Ross at the Paralympics announced that fulfilling his dream of competing at the London 2012 Paralympics had been a costly experience, especially for his mum.
“We get grants depending on our ranking at the last World Championships, but they get eaten up pretty quickly. Then you run to your parents and say ‘we’ll put you in a good retirement home if you help us out now.’ I think my mother wished I had done better in swimming, because that is just a pair of speedos rather than a few ten thousand dollar bikes.”
She may well have but we have no doubt she was as proud as any parent to see their child fulfil their dream. At least he appreciates the sacrifices she has made.
There have been many stories of Athletes who have toiled for four years to make the Olympic Games in London, only for something to go wrong when their event starts and our heart bleeds for many of them.
One is Chinese hurdler and 2004 Athens gold medallist Liu Xiang. At his home games in Beijing in 2008 he went into the games with the hopes of a nation on his shoulders, but also carrying an Achilles tendon injury. He never made it to the first hurdle, as he did further damage to it breaking from the blocks. London was supposed to be his redemption, but once again his Olympics finished at the first hurdle. Again he had an Achilles problem and that has been blamed for him losing power at the first hurdle and his front foot catching the hurdle, forcing him to fall and his race to be over. One thing is for sure he will not be forgotten, and sadly will be remembered more for trying to recapture the golden moment in Athens rather than for that success.
Incredibly in the same heat as Liu Xiang, only six of the nine starters finished. In Heat 3 there was more drama when Madagascar’s Kame Ali was disqualified for false start, without even getting to run on the Olympic track. In that same heat Bahamian record holder Shamar Sands fell and was out of the Games. He was disqualified for a lane violation as he had disadvantaged and impeded French athlete Ladji Docoure between hurdles 6 and 7. The French appealed as Doucoure had missed qualification, their appeal was upheld and the good news for Docoure was he was through to the next round.
However probably the worst story of an athlete missing out is Angolan Heavyweight boxer Tumba Silva. Silva is trained by former World Super Middleweight Champion Briton Chris Eubank, who set up a boxing academy in Angola. He was disqualified for failing to turn up to the weigh in for his fight and was out of the games without throwing a punch, his opponent Italian Clemente Russo being awarded a Walkover. It transpires that his coach, Eubank thought the weigh in was in the evening when it was in the morning.
Head of Angola’s Olympic team Antonio Monteira has claimed Eubank failed to attend the technical meeting and has branded him a “Plonker.” He also stated that Silva broke down and cried like a child when told of what had happened and was inconsolable. One hopes he manages to return in Rio, or uses this to inspire him to a successful professional career.
The opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics was certainly a visually spectacular event. The British once again pulled out all of the stops acknowledging their historical past as well as taking the mickey out of themselves. It was amazing to see her Majesty the Queen play her part and join in the festivities unlike any other member of the Royal family has before. One has to say the David Beckham boat journey was a little unnecessary and appeared purely tokenism, repaying him for his support in bringing the Games to London. The musical journey down memory lane showed just how many superb musical artists have come out of the British Isles.
The annoying thing for those of us in Australia having to watch was the absolutely diabolical commentary that went with it on Fox Sports courtesy of Tracey Holmes, Matt Shirvington and Rove McManus. Quite why the latter, a very unfunny man – to call him a comedian would be disrespectful to such artists – is even part of the Games coverage is a mystery; his one liners were completely wide of the mark and far from funny and frequently bordered on disrespectful. We also had to endure the three constantly talking over each other, which showed a complete lack of professionalism.
It was sad that Australian viewers were deprived of British commentary as so much of the symbolism and the subtle nuances of the show were completely lost on the three, whose knowledge of British history is understandably limited. When they did read from their program notes, it was abundantly clear that that was exactly what they were doing, reading. They failed to enhance the viewing experience due to a complete lack of enthusiasm. When the nations competing entered the stadium we also had to endure some country’s names or capital cities being mispronounced, which was embarrassing disrespectful and simply unprofessional.
Fox Sports have done a great job offering Australian viewers so many channels of Olympic sport throughout the games. Hopefully the commentary team they have assembled will raise the bar from this opening. Events such as this require specialist sports commentators – a la ABC – in order to educate and show the athletes participating the respect that their efforts deserve, they are no place for people think their jokes are actually funnier than the audience does!