Saturday, 18 August 2012

Top 5 Performances of London 2012

In the second of the two posts looking back at the London Olympics, this post will look at the 5 great performances of these games.

Before I go on there are a couple of things to mention.  Firstly there should be an honourable mention to the BBC’s coverage, which has been exemplary.  I am somewhat bemused at all the sudden attention to Clare Balding.  She (alongside fellow Radio 5 Live “graduate” John Inverdale) have been excellent for years without acclaim.  In sharp contrast, the American broadcaster NBC has been receiving nothing but brickbats for it’s decision not to show the Olympics live, spawning the Twitter hashtag #nbcfail.

The other thing I was going to mention is that the one blight on the British team’s effort was the Swimming team.  One silver, and two bronzes was quite clearly the one low point of Britain’s performance – considering we had several “medal prospects” too.  There is the suggestion that maybe some of the swimmers were not mentally prepared, which shows that charged with coaching our swimmers had not perhaps covered all bases.

However, that debate is for another time.  This post is about the best performances of the games.  Those performances that might not have been as memorable but deserve to be recognised.

1) Ye Shiwen (Womens 400m Medely – Swimming)
In the opening days of the games, Shiwen was the most controversial figure of the games.  Her record breaking performance (winning in 4:28.43, a second inside the previous record) started a debate about where the startling improvement in her performance came from.  One of the American coaches went so far as to hint that there were performance enhancing drug’s involved.  As it is, the “debate” somewhat took the gloss of a very fine performance.

2) Ruta Meilutyte (Women’s 100m Breaststroke - Swimming)
In sharp contrast to Shiwen, Meilutyte’s performance came from a similar left field position yet garnered none of the loud whispering campaign that accompanied Shiwen’s victory.  Meilutyte was also a similar age to Shiwen so gave her defenders positive arguments to counter the spin.

Meilutyte’s performance didn’t quite come from leftfield.  For starters, she showed similar form during the heats.  It was however as noteworthy as Shiwen’s performance and also, considering she was coached in Plymouth, that there’s not really that much wrong with British Swimming.

3) Andy Murray (Mens Single’s – Tennis)
Murray’s finest moment on the tennis court.  Murray completely outclassed not just the former No#1 Novak Djokavic in the semi final, but also the man who beat him in the Wimbledon final four weeks previously.  In the style of “Fever Pitch”, you could have billed the final as Murray V Federer IV – The Catharsis.

After dispatching Wawrinka and Niemenen, Murray then faced Baghdadis in the first repeat of his Wimbledon campaign from weeks earlier.  In the quarters Murray beat Almagro to set up a semi with Djokavic, which he won 7-5 7-5.

In the final, Murray produced his best performance in a “Slam” final – and arguably his best performance ever - to beat Federer 6-2, 6-1, 6-4.  All of which bode’s well gong into the US hard court season leading up to the US Open at the end of the month.

4) David Rudisha (Men’s 800m – Athletics)
The man who nabbed the headlines from Usian Bolt’s 200m win (which took place after the 800m final).  The World champion at this distance went after a world record and got it winning in 1:40.91.  While Rudisha won by a large margin, none of the other finalists were slouches – all the other seven finalists posted either personal bests or season bests in this race.

However, Rudisha’s performance arguably was the performance of the Olympic track meeting alongside Usain Bolt and…

5) Mo Farrah (Men’s 5000m – Athletics)
Farrah had won the men’s 10,000m title the previous Saturday and was now going for the double, aiming to join Kolehmainen (1912), Zatopek (1952), Kuts (1956), Viren (1972 & ’76), Yifter (1980) & Bekele (2008) in that list of “double” winners.

Farrah managed to win by his clever positioning and his ability to begin his wind up at the optimum moment, remember that the 1,500m, the 5,000m and the 10,000m races can be tactical races.  Despite his 10,000m win being a close race, I have gone with the 5,000m win because of the occasion and because of the quality of athletes that Farrah outwitted to win.  That and the 5,000m was the race I saw live (as opposed to glancing at in the pub).

The highest profile events of the Olympics is the Athletics meet, the London Olympics was blessed with such a great meet.  On top of Rudisha and Farrah, you could also add the Bolt and Blake duel’s and the performances of Allyson Felix, Felix Sanchez and Kirani James.  While the organisation was superbe, London 2012 will go down as a vintage games because of the moments and the performances.

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