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London 2012 Olympics: Team GB Begins Gold Rush

"The Olympics provide an emotional rollercoaster for athletes as the fruits of four years’ work and preparation can often be judged in a matter of seconds."

Tony Bugby is in London to witness the start of Team GB's Gold Rush despite some unexpected bumps along the way.

One week into the Olympic Games and it has already been a memorable journey in many respects at London 2012.

LOCOG, the body charged with delivering the Games, has certainly done a commendable job so far.

The organisation of the Games has been almost flawless and none of the predicted glitches have mercifully not materialised.

And after a low-key and somewhat disappointing opening for Team GB, the last three days have been remarkable.

It took until the fifth day of competition for the first gold medal to be won, but in the space of the last three days the National Anthem has sounded eight times in victory.

And with 22 medals won – Team GB is in third place in the medal standings behind China and the USA – the Games have certainly lifted off for the host nation.

It had been somewhat sombre until midweek, but suddenly it is as though a weight has been lifted off the nation’s shoulders.

And speaking to hockey international Nicola White, she explained that the whole of Team GB is feeding off the successes of other athletes and makes them even more determined to strike gold.

There has been drama in the form of World and Olympic records created by the bucket full tinged with the usual wide gamut of emotions, the joy and exhilaration of victory and triumph, the tears and despair of defeat tinged with an element of scandal.

Last Friday’s spectacular opening ceremony seems in the distant past such has been pace and intensity of the competition as most days there are more than 20 sports taking place simultaneously.

And here on the ground in London it also takes enormous stamina with events often taking place between 8am and midnight.

The Olympics provide an emotional rollercoaster for athletes as the fruits of four years’ work and preparation can often be judged in a matter of seconds.

That undoubtedly heightens the drama as we have seen in a number of events.

Take the opening session of the cycling when Great Britain women’s sprint team smashed a world record in the heats only to be disqualified for an illegal change over.

Cycling’s golden girl Victoria Pendleton went barely a wheel’s width too early, but there were tears of despair.

And lighting struck twice in the final when the Chinese victors were also denied their gold for a similar offence, this time by a matter of centimetres.

Their despair contrasted sharply to the emotions of the beaten German pair who suddenly found themselves elevated from silver to gold.

Even Olympic veteran Sir Chris Hoy was moved to tears as, at the age of 36, he captured his fifth Olympic gold in the men’s team sprint to match the record held by rowing legend Sir Steve Redgrave.

Though the Scot is a battle hardened Olympian, he was still overcome by emotion describing it an even more special than his first-ever gold which he thought could never be eclipsed.

It was also heartening to see tears of joy for Pendleton 24 hours after her disqualification as she was on the winners’ podium after victory and gold in the women’s keirin.

The cyclists are proving the catalyst and trailblazers for Great Britain’s success as Lizzie Armistead captured Team GB’s first medal of the Games, a silver, in the women’s road race while there was also a gold in the men’s time trial for Bradley Wiggins.

Since then there have been three gold medals in the track including a new world record time in the men’s 4,000 metres team pursuit. In total the cyclists have had six podium places.

There has also been medal successes for the rowers at Eton Dorney – two gold, one silver and three bronzes and golds in shooting and canoe slalom while medals has also been captured in equestrian’s three-day event and judo.

While there have been amazing feats of sporting achievement and excellence, there has also been events which have tainted the Olympics and their values set out by Pierre de Coubertain, who proposed the International Olympic Committee in 1894. His motto, which was adopted for the 1924 Paris Games and which has remained, has been ‘Faster, Higher, Stronger.’

It was deeply saddening to see eight badminton players thrown out of the tournament for deliberately contriving to lose matches. It was a bizarre scenario as they were determined not to win so as to get a favourable draw in the knockout stage.

Hardly surprising, therefore, that the spectactors jeered and demanded their money back having spent heavily to see the stars of the sport behaving disgracefully and not within the spirit of the Olympic movement.

A finger of suspicion, it must be said it is only that, has also been levelled at 16-year-old Chinese swimming sensation Ye Shiwen and how possibly can she better the times clocked by men in her event.

And this has also triggered a diplomatic row between the United States, who raised the subject, and China who are angry that the good name of their athlete has been besmirched.

The other row enveloping the Olympics has been the one of ticketing and banks of empty seats at events which are supposedly sold out.

It is a problem which is not unique to London but which has been magnified here because of the demand for tickets by the public which has been on an unprecedented scale.

Sadly there has been tragedy at the Olympics which puts into perspective everything achieved on the sporting stage.

Cyclist Dan Harris was killed after being involved in a collision with a media bus on his journey to work. He had only recently turned to pedal power fearing the Games would cause public transport chaos.


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