Olympics Kick Off – All Gunning for Glory
Four years have passed since the epic moments of the Beijing 2008 Olympics, but people have become quick to use the event as a means of comparison for what London must offer. It is officially the most watched sporting event on the planet, and it is back! The question that remains to be answered is whether London will be able to deliver a world class event, especially after such a roller coaster ride in terms of preparing for the event.
The Beijing games went down in the history books for the sheer number of records that were set and broken during the games. Over 11,000 athletes from more than 200 National Olympic Committees’ participated in the event, setting an astounding 43 new world records and 132 new Olympic records.
It is these same athletes that will be showcased in London and here is a very brief reminder of who made headlines in Beijing:
Bolt is the reigning Olympic champion and record holder after he ran a stellar 9.69 seconds in the men’s 100 meter race, and 19.30 seconds in the 200 meters event. He also set a record with his teammates in the 4×100 meter relay. In short, he is the first man to set world records at all three sprinting events at a single Olympics.
The American has 16 Olympic medals to his name, including the 8 Gold medals he won in Beijing from the 8 events he participated in. The 27 year old set a record by winning more medals at a single Olympic event than any other athlete at the games. Phelps will be participating in London but will not feature in the 200 meter freestyle.
Competition will be fierce in London, not only among athletes but also between competing nations to see which country takes home the most number of medals.
In Beijing it was the USA which took a total of 110 medals followed by the hosts, China, with 100 medals and Russia with 72 in third. However, China won the most Gold medals (51 to be exact) while the USA had 36.
I guess we will have to wait till the 12th of August to find out exactly how things pan out, but it is safe to say that it should be an exciting three weeks. Having said that, there is a famous epigram I want to use here. More commonly known as Murphy’s Law, it states “anything that could go wrong will go wrong”. This is certainly something that has been playing on people’s minds, as London makes headlines in the news for the wrong reasons too.
According to G4S, the private security firm contracted to train and provide security staff for the games, there has been a major shortfall in personnel and the firm will not be able to meet its contractual obligations. This means that the military has to provide 3500 extra personnel. There were also media reports that some staff were inadequately trained, some were teenagers and some could not speak proper English.
In addition, transportation is a major concern as the London Underground services start to become very, very busy. The true extent of the issue came to prominence when the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, asked Londoners to cycle to work and avoid the tube services.
The athletes have already started to arrive in London, and most of them had only positives to tweet about arrangements in London. While Heathrow airport experienced a record breaking number of passengers, most athletes were welcomed warmly and efficiently transported to the Olympic village. Others spent 4 hours on buses that should have reached their destinations in far less time. Kerron Clement, the US 400m hurdles silver medalist tweeted “Um, so we’ve been lost on the road for 4hrs. Not a good first impression London.” He further noted “”Athletes are sleepy, hungry and need to pee. Could we get to the Olympic Village please.”
I do not mean to sound so critical. After all, planning and initiating an event of such magnitude requires time, effort and patience.
It is only natural that not everything goes according to plan, as Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt had to say: “In the Sydney Games they had a massive ticketing scandal just before the Games opened; in Athens they were still screwing on the roofs of the venues; in Beijing there were big issues over whether international journalists were going to be able to access the internet. It’s just such a huge event that you inevitably get things that happen right up until the last minute. But the overall picture has been very encouraging”. This was echoed by Boris Johnson, who said “”When the athletics gets going, when the whole thing kicks off, when the opening ceremony begins, then I think a lot of these issues that we are currently now discussing will melt away.”
Let’s hope both these gentlemen are correct and the world is witness once again to some of the most spectacular events the sports industry has to offer.