“London 2012” was the athletics “summer of love” for a generation of fans with Jess, Mo and Greg the “super group trio” of spectacular Super Saturday – the sporting stars aligned, joyful fans waved banners, anthems were chorused and all was hip and groovy!
The London 2012 Olympic Games, with its images so etched in our memories, still seem fresh even though they will soon be nine summers distant. Intense anticipation for the event had been building for both the “face of the Games” Jess Ennis and fans alike but, competing in the first session of competition, Jess exploded with 12.54 secs of her immaculate 100mH run – a GB NR and still the best ever performance in a Heptathlon. Rewind and view again > Jessica Ennis 100mH run
An appropriate start as over two days we were witness to her athletics excellence delivered with a steely determined smile and completed with her 800m victory “bow” crossing the line as the gold rush began. On the back straight the Men’s long jump had been unfolding round by round and suddenly, with his 8.31m leap, Greg Rutherford took the lead, a performance that remained unbeaten as Greg stepped slightly dazed into a new world of celebrity. All this as the 10,000m was getting serious and GB fans eyes turned exclusively towards Mo Farah as the mesmeric circuits were counted down. In pole position with 500m to go his acceleration began as gears engaged and, resisting the best of (other) East African running talent, over the final lap a third gold in a British vest became reality amidst another crescendo of noise. Mo later treated his rivals to further last lap purgatory in the 5000m to win his second gold as certain as Kelly Holmes 1500m win in Athens in 2004: her cloak of confident invincibility had been passed on. Other medals were won by a resurgent Christina Ohuruogo with her silver in the 400m only narrowly denied from a defending champion’s victory by Sanya Richards-Ross who ran more sensibly than 4 years earlier. In the High Jump Robbie Grabarz won bronze in a three way tie for 3rd but with the winner Ivan Ukhov’s recent doping DQ silver medal upgrades are due: of the 16 doping DQ-ed medallists from London 2012 11 were from Russia – as with the original “summer of love” drugs were sadly a part of the scene but calculatedly mean and clandestine unlike those of 1960’s naïve recreational hedonism.
The USA team dominated with 28 medals and the USA Women’s 4x100m team set their 40.62 WR. The Usain Bolt / Jamaica show was again in full swing with his 9.63 new 100m Olympic record – there were 11 in total at these Games – and his storming final leg in the Jamaica 36.84 4x100m WR. The standout event for many was David Rudisha’s 800m 1:40.91 WR run a sublime performance. Russia’s Elena Lashmanova 20km Walk 1:25.02 WR remains in the record books, at least for now.
At London 2012 T&FT had acted as an incoming agent looking after two major Olympic groups as well as athlete family members and the agents of many of the world’s elite athletes so it was a different role to that at previous championships but another very good experience with good connections made for the benefit of future events.
Earlier that summer a scaled down Helsinki European Champs took place running for the first time in an Olympic year on its new two year cycle. The British team was not at full strength but Mo Farah warmed up with a 5000m win practicing his sprinting, with golds too for Rhys Williams in the 400mH, Robbie Grabarz in the High Jump and, in time, Lynsey Sharp in the 800m after yet another Russian winner DQ. Silvers were won by Jo Pavey in the 10000m and GB Men’s 4x400m team. Julia Bleasdale in the 5000m and Danny Talbot in the 200m won bronze medals. It had been an appetiser for the banquet to come a few weeks later.
The Istanbul World Indoor Champs in March provided a very interesting destination with add-on tour potential for an extended late winter break, and a large group of fans booked. Istanbul / Turkey being half in Asia and Europe brought an exotic dimension of interesting sites and sights, tastes and smells and with the add-on tour to remarkable Cappadocia an experience like no other: a moonscape with houses and other settlement buildings built into the mountains including our fabulous deluxe “cave hotel”.
In the Istanbul stadium the British women’s team with 6 medals, two golds and two NRs did very well with victories for Yamile Aldama in the Triple Jump and the GB women’s 4x400m team. In the Pentathlon Jess Ennis set a NR of 4965 pts only to be beaten by Nataliya Dobrynska’s WR 5013 pts. Tiffany Porter in the 60mH also won silver. Holly Bleasedale in the Pole Vault and Shara Proctor with a NR 6.89m in the Long Jump won bronzes. The GB Men’s 4x400m team were silver medallists and Dwain Chambers, in the 60m, and Andrew Osagie, in the 800m, both came 3rd. In the Men’s Heptathlon the USA’s Ashton Eaton set a WR with 6645 pts as the USA dominated the medals table. With 9 medals the GB team came 2nd to enter an Olympic year full of anticipation for the London 2012 Games that delivered, whilst not for every GB hopeful, spectacularly so for a special few!