This is the final column by Elliott Denman for the the 2012 London Olympics. Elliott competed in 1956 Olympics in the 20k. Since then, he has been one of the top sports writers on athletics in the US.
by ELLIOTT DENMAN
August 15, 2012
New York, New York was blown out of the water in its bid, seven years ago, to stage the Games of the XXX Olympiad.
“Good try, Gotham, well and done, but not really what we were looking for,” the NYC delegation, in effect, was Told.
It boiled down to a Paris-London race. Any few votes here – or there – could swing it one direction or other. London got those votes and became the International Olympic Committee’s choice.
And now that London’s Games have safely been placed away in the history books we can say we are mighty darn glad, too, that the 2005 vote went the way it did.
Might New York, New York, have done as well as London? Call that a definite very-very-very long stretch.
Might Paris have done as well as London? Just might, but again a big stretch.
In 16 incredible days, London got on with it magnificently. It deserves the praise of the universe for the job it did.
Everything Lord Sebastian Coe, the visionary and the architect behind it all, said at
Closing Ceremonies was right on the money.
“Today sees the end of a wonderful Games in a wonderful city,” he told the 80,000 in the Olympic Stadium seats and a likely worldwide television audience of over a billion.
“For the third time in its history, London was granted the trust of the Olympic movement and once again we have shown ourselves worthy of that trust.
“Thank you to the people who built the stadiums, the people who created a new neighborhood (in East London) in an old city, the people who stood guard to keep us safe.
“Thank you to the tens of thousands of volunteers who gave their time, their boundless enthusiasm, and their goodwill, and who have the right to say ‘I made London 2012.’
“And thank you to the people of this country. The British people got behind London’s bid and they got behind London’s Games.
“London 2012 has played host to some incredible sport, to awe-inspiring feats that are the synthesis of Incredible determination and skill by the world’s greatest sports men and women.
“To all the Olympians who came to London to compete – thank you.
“On the first day of these Games, I said we were determined to do it right. I said these Games would see the best of us.
“On this last day, I can finish with these words: When our time came, Britain – we did it right.”
Likely, the London Games will be called the best ever, certainly very long miles better than the last Summer Games the U.S. hosted – Atlanta 1996. Probably a tad better than the second Games Down Under – Sydney 2000. But just a tad. An improvement in so many ways over Athens 2004, Outspent by far – but certainly not out outdone – by Beijing 2008.
Athletics – track and field – was, of course, just one of 31 Olympic sports, and that number depends on how you do the counting.
And consider all the glories in athletics that London 2012 gave us…
Most memorable on the men’s side:
- Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake dominating the dashes, but having to run for their lives to beat the U.S, in the greatest 4×100 relay race the world has ever seen.
- Young Kirani James, taking the 400, in a strange American-less 400.
- David Rudisha leading home the pack in the greatest 800-meter race ever run.
- Mo Farah sweeping the 5k&10k, the latter slow as molasses but nevertheless enthralling.
- Aries Merritt and Felix Sanchez outhurdling the world. Four one-time-or-another U.S collegians racing off with the 4×400 – and beating the U.S.
- Christian Taylor tripling the pleasure in the TJ.
- Will Claye double-medaling the LJ and TJ.
- Keehorn Walcott – of Trinidad, and Tobago, too – spearing javelin gold.
- Ashton Eaton and Trey Hardee doing the old decathlon 1-2
- Ding Chen finally walking China to its first 20K gold; 50Ker Sergey Kidyapkin of Russia winning the Games’ longest-toughest footrace.
- Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda joining Johnny Hayes (USA) and Delfo Cabrera (Argentina) as London’s Olympic marathon champions.
Marvels on the women’s side:
- Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the double double-barreled 100 titlist.
- Allyson Felix and Sanya Richards-Ross, first with individual golds, then more-so magnificent, baton in hand. Awesome Aussie hurdler Sally Pearson.
- Jenn Suhr, vaulting off the injury list and up-up-over the PV heights.
- Brittney Reese, longing for LJ win, and getting it.
- Just-20 Elena Lashmanova baby-facing to 20K gold.
- And Jessica Ennis, hepping all British spirits and jump-starting an array of GB successes.
All these, and so many more, “did it right.”
May the spirit of all of them, as the good Lord Coe also put it, “inspire a generation”