Sportsbeat’s Olympic team reflect on their memories of the Games
Sportsbea’s coverage of the London 2012 Olympics reached millions of readers in newspapers and online.
Print content was supplied to over 100 UK regional and local newspapers, reaching a daily circulation of nearly two million readers.
Our syndicated web feed reached a huge audience – one client alone, Eurosport, reported over four million daily unique users for their London 2012 section.
It’s been an emotional, sometimes fraught, but hugely enjoyable fortnight. Here some members of our team reflect on the Games.
Sportsbeat’s executive editor David Parsons was the mastermind behind Sportsbeat’s biggest ever editorial project, delivering in excess of 2000 newspapers articles, 1000 web stories and 100 videos across a network of client media. He didn’t leave his desk for 17 days.
Moment of the Games – Super Saturday on the track. Seeing three gold medals in quick succession was my favourite moment on an athletics’ track since Britain won World Championship gold in the 4x400m back in ’90 or ’91.
Breakthrough of the Games – It’s girl power now, witness the performances of Laura Trott. British women had never won a rowing gold before these Games – and they won three.
Biggest disappointment of Games – I should have taken one of my reporters accreditations! I feel as though I haven’t got a single story to tell – I will make sure I’m there reporting in person at the 2017 World Athletics Championships. Otherwise my biggest disappointment of the Games was probably Britain failing to win a medal in the relays on the track – the 4x400m was gutting – personally because I lost money on it and professionally because it’s my favourite event.
Sportsbeat’s Managing Editor James Toney covered his eighth Games in London. The last two months has seen him achieve two lifetime ambitions – attending the Olympic opening ceremony in his hometown and running with the Olympic Torch
Moment of the Games – They call us sports writers fans with typewriters – and I didn’t care at all about objectivity when Mo Farah won his two golds in events I’ve loved since I first fell in love with the Olympics.
However, I will never forget how I felt covering that opening ceremony. This was an evening where we could explore what defines us. Where it was okay for our stiff upper lips to wobble. This was an evening to ask – do we shirk away from challenges because they are hard? Do we turn our back and look inwards when we’ve got so much to offer?
This was an evening where we could laugh, we could cry, we could look forward, we could remember, we could leave the disciplined chorus of cynics on the sidelines and take the stage.
Breakthrough of the Games – Is there any other possible answer than Laura Trott. So normal, so grounded, so fast. However, my breakthrough act is us – Great Britain. We proved we can do it, we can do it better than anyone else ever has and hopefully this will be the start of many major sports events staged here in years to come.
Biggest disappointment of the Games – Victoria Pendleton failing to beat Anna Meares in the women’s sprint final, it would have been a fitting end of a storied career. The way she handled defeat was as impressive as her two gold medals.
Sportsbeat’s deputy editor Steve Bond masterminded of one the most complex reporting schedules ever devised – and we didn’t miss a single medal or interview, thanks to his gentle reminders. He was responsible for the delivery of Sportsbeat’s contract to produce the Team GB media guide.
Moment of the Games – too many to mention, Ennis and Super Saturday was unforgettable. But for me Sir Ben Ainslie’s fightback and eventual gold in the sailing. You knew from the moment the Dane and Dutch sailors upset him he would come out and top and duly delivered. From a pulling of the heartstrings perspective Queen Victoria Pendleton, after the disappointment of the opening race, she showed unbelievable character and talent to claim gold and silver. Laura Trott, the story of Anthony Ogogo….the list goes on, truly spectacular from start to finish.
Breakthrough of the Games – Laura Trott has to be up there, as are Kat Copeland and Hosking, Jade Jones and Jason Kenny, not to mention Tom Reynolds’ copy!
Disappointment of Games – hard to look beyond Phillips Idowu. Feel sorry for him the way it panned out but this should have been his Games. He won’t be around in 2016, a sad end to a wonderful career.
Ryan Bangs is Sportsbeat’s Olympic editor and assisted with the delivery of hundreds of stories, reaching millions of readers, across our network of newspaper titles. He also played a key role in the delivery of the editorial and production of the Team GB Media Guide and all Sportsbeat’s pre-Games supplements. He will lead Sportsbeat’s reporters at the Paralympic Games.
Moment of the Games – Ben Ainslie – proved why he is the greatest Olympic sailor of all time by coming from behind to see off Jonas Hoegh-Christensen.
Breakthrough of the Games -Katherine Copeland – only started rowing with Sophie Hosking at the start of the year and was targeting success in Rio not London.
Disappointment of Games – Ellen Gandy – world silver medallist in the 200m butterfly but didn’t even make it out of the heats.
SMILE: British cycling’s power couple – Laura Trott and Jason Kenny – were pictured with David Beckham and Prince Harry at the beach volleyball
Sportsbeat’s chief writer Gerard Meagher sprinkled his magic dust over copy and and tried but failed to come up with a winning bet, despite studying the synchronised swimming form for weeks. He was played a frontline role in the delivery of the Team GB Media Guide and Sportsbeat’s pre-Games supplements.
Moment of the Games – Tom Daley’s final nerveless performance. Far too much pressure on his young shoulders, the public placed Daley on a pedestal far higher than the 10m platform. He had furthest to fall than any other Brit should he fail. Celebrations of winning bronze [rather than gold] flew in the face of bureaucratic fascinations with medal targets and tables and provided the perfect encore to Mo-bot mark II.
Breakthrough of the Games – Laura Trott. The girl next door proved herself back-alley bruiser who can scrap with the best of them.
Trott strolled to two gold medals, including the lung-busting omnium, with a will forged of British steel and a simplicity that mocked the cross-Channel conspiracy theorists. Dominated endurance events but may turn to the sprints for Rio 2016 and could easily eclipse Sir Chris Hoy’s six gold medals by the time she calls it quits.
Disappointment of Games – Women’s 1500m. A disappointing race considering its rich history [Kelly Holmes etc], it had the chemical reek of a 5am Glastonbury dance tent to it. The winner is a convicted drugs cheat, the fastest woman in the world this year wasn’t there because of a drugs ban and the sense of disillusionment for everyone else in the field was palpable.
Sportsbeat chief reporter Daniel Schofield saw more gold medals than he did in Beijing – and more sights too. And he got his wish for a boxing gold to bring the curtain down on the Games
Moment of the Games -You always want to finish on a high note and superheavyweight Anthony Joshua’s thunderous right cross that rocked Roberto Cammarelle in the third round certainly did that. The 22-year-old has only been boxing for four years, only boxed his first major international tournament and is now an Olympic champion. At 22 his potential his staggering and it is no wonder promoters view him as a potential saviour of a heavyweight division that has been moribund since Lennox Lewis, another Olympic medallist, hung up his gloves. But what is remarkable about Joshua is that with several blank cheques in front of him and the world at his feet, there is no trace of ego or arrogance in Joshua – he maintains he still has a lot to learn and to turn professional for money would be a ‘big mistake’.
Breakthrough of the Games -Again this is a totally biased opinion because I was confined to the five dark dungeons of the ExCeL was large parts of the Games, but it is hard to look beyond British success in the ring. That was our largest medal haul since 1920 and the three golds is unsurpassed since the terms cravat tying and peasant shooting were events (probably). Rowing and cycling out-delievered in terms of medals won by boxing over-delivered and topping the boxing medal count is an unprecedented achievement. A special word too for Nicola Adams – the smiling assassin – for her, Katie Taylor and Claressa Shields’ role as pioneers of women boxing in the Olympics. Delivered some of the best fights of the Olympics, certainly generated the best atmosphere and used some devastating combinations to shatter certain misogynists’ flawed logic.
Disappointment of Games – Whinging. To be at an Olympic Games is a greatest privilege for any sportsperson or journalist for that matter. Yet that is forgotten in a hurry. There were rumblings from American athletes about wanting to be paid to attend and the amount of excuses and moaning coming from British swimmers morphed into a continuous drone after a while. Welsh weightlifter Gareth Evans was living away from his family and surviving on less than £100 a week. He had no chance of a medal but shattered his personal best and cried tears of happiness as the ExCeL roared itself hoarse. If I were the IOC I would immediately employ him as an ambassador, on a handsome salary of course, to talk some sense into any athlete who thinks representing your country at the greatest show on the earth is some sort of chore.
Sportsbeat’s reporter Tom Reynolds is probably the only man in the stadium to have interview three of the surprise seven torchbearers. He also saw Jade Jones win taekwondo gold after watching her win the same event at the Youth Olympics in Singapore.
Moment of the Games – Sir Chris Hoy’s second gold. Such emotion from him on the podium plus the noise of the velodrome and the fact he was so close to being mugged by Max Levy.
Breakthrough of the Games – Great Britain’s gymnastics team. The men’s team all round medal ran Hoy close for moment of the games. Such a great achievement for them to be challenging the worlds best and the nerves of steel of Kristian Thomas, Max Whitlock and Dan Purvis on the floor was incredible.
Disappointment of Games – GB swimming but more importantly the attitude of the team. Excuse culture, moaning about morning swims, struggling to come back in evening swims. If they’d had afternoon swimming sessions we’d have cleaned up it seems.
Sportsbeat reporter Charlie Talbot-Smith was at the heart of the action on Olympic Park, Eton Dorney and Greenwich. And yes, he did get his dream of covering the USA basketball team in their gold medal match.
Moment of the Games – If the Olympics is about sporting excellence then I don’t think anything can compare to seeing David Rudisha breaking the 800m world record in the Olympic Stadium, quite simply he was running a different race to the rest of the field, from gun to tape it was truly astonishing.
Breakthrough of the Games – From a British perspective it’s hard to look beyond Laura Trott who at only 20 is now a double Olympic gold medallist and the reigning world champion, internationally Ye Shiwen in the pool was almost too good to be true. Almost.
Disappointment of the Games – the British basketball team. For multiple reasons, some of which were out of their control, they failed to come close to fulfilling their true potential, this could have been a massive breakout for them as players and the sport in general in this country. An opportunity missed in a big way.
WHERE NEXT: After sealing his spot in the hearts of millions, Sir Chris Hoy ponders the thought of doing it all over again
Sportsbeat reporter Paul Smith probably spoke with more medallists than any other member of staff, he did a pretty good job of – in the words of the British Olympic Association – ‘managing victory’.
Moment of the Games – Bradley Wiggins’s post time trial press conference was pure gold and the best press conference I have witnessed as a journalist. It confirmed what a legend Wiggins is, on and off the bike. In terms of viewing, the cycling was incredibly to watch, British dominance and compulsive viewing. Hoy’s final finish was superb so I’ll say that one specifically.
Breakthrough of the Games – Definitely Nicola Adams. The first ever gold medal for a female boxer at an Olympic Games, a momentous achievement. She was brilliant throughout, and also a very humble woman that has done great things for female boxing in Britain, not that she probably knows it.
Disappointment of the Games – The women’s hockey team. That might sound a bit harsh considering they won bronze, but they were good enough for gold. Maybe Rio, Better Never Stops and all that.
RELAXING: Mo Farah allowed himself some freedom, but insisted he won’t be taking his foot off the gas too much
Reporter Tom Bell covered his second Olympics for Sportsbeat in London and reflects on his memories of a famous fortnight
Moment of the Games – The sound and fury of the second Saturday, around 9pm. Mo Farah had just generated the loudest noise I’ve ever heard in a sporting arena, then came the murmurs of the diving crowd as it dawned that Tom Daley could win gold. A lengthy hush as he took an extra few seconds before his final dive – then the roar, and another for Farah’s medal ceremony, heard inside the Aquatics Centre. Knife-edge drama starring two special characters and athletes.
And a sad one that sticks in the memory. The velodrome was a bearpit and emotions ran high when Vicky Pendleton won keirin gold after she and Jess Varnish had messed up the team sprint. As Pendleton celebrated I turned to see a drained-looking Varnish crying her eyes out. Undoubtedly she was caught up in Pendleton’s moment but there must have been other emotions in there too. All that training for one lap of the track and her Games blown in the blink of an eye.
Disappointment of Games – GB’s sprint relay quartet – without singling out the young lads who weren’t guilty on previous occasions – are poster boys for British athletics underachievement. Where is the Dave Brailsford of track & field? Let’s see young athletes sent abroad to follow Mo Farah’s example in Oregan, a more unified set-up and better man-management so that future Phillips Idowus don’t make a prat of themselves when it matters most.
Breakthrough of the Games – That of Louis Smith and his gymnastics team-mates, and Beth Tweddle and hers. What gymnasts go through and the precision required of them under such pressure is arguably unmatched. Then consider GB’s history in the discipline and watch the pommel routines of Smith and Max Whitlock – staggering. And a breakthrough of Britishness: consider our national image then look at the fanatical bunch who went ballistic for every morning handball sessions and the 50km walk, with the likes of The Smiths and Animal Collective, rather than Queen and Bon Jovi, playing in between.
Barrie White was Sportsbeat’s reporter at Team GB’s preparation camp in Loughborough, covered Olympic football and edited the Sportsbeat web feed.
Moment of the Games – Mo Farah’s first gold. Having been lucky enough to interview him at kitting out in Loughborough, I knew he feared failure and the nearly man tag. He blew that and the field out of the water with a kick that reduced me and millions of others to tears. Though Gemma Gibbons’ collapse after her Ippon in the semi-final will stay with me for life.
Breakthrough of the Games – Ian Thorpe’s warm, informed and enthusiastic punditry is up there, as well as boxing and Laura Trott, but my breakthrough would be the thawing of Victoria Pendleton’s persona and rivalry with Anna Meares. A girl who just wants to be loved and wants to win.
Disappointment of the Games – Mark Cavendish not getting what he probably deserved, but Colin Jackson’s assertion about Caster Semenya’s desire to win because of her past left an awful taste in the mouth.
Ben Burrows worked on Sportsbeat’s web feed throughout the Games and had a particularly personal connection to one gold medallist
Moment of the Games – My fellow Leeds University alumni and (Sports Science mate) Ali Brownlee ‘strolling’ over the line to claim the triathlon gold draped in the Union flag before embracing Jonny after executing a race plan which would ensure his brother joined him on the podium.
Breakthrough of the Games – Laura Trott. The new heroine of GB cycling looks set to take Vicky Pendleton’s mantle as Queen of the Velodrome. At only 20 she could go to another two or three Games and alongside boyfriend Jason Kenny could be the new sporting super couple.
Disappointment of Games – Cav in the road race. After seeing a cycling team who seemingly could do no wrong it seemed like it was inevitable that they would claim Team GB’s first gold medal of the Games. So it was a great disappointment to see them fail in such public style and prove themselves to be human after all.
Aimee Howarth was part of Sportsbeat’s web reporting team during the Games and was responsible for the daily live blog
Moment of the Games – Andy Murray defeating Roger Federer in straight sets to claim gold, almost getting the double with Laura Robson and then climbing into the box to hug his family/coaches.
Breakthrough of the Games – Great Britain’s boxing team has offered up a lot of medals and young talents to bring a few highlights to the Games that weren’t expected.
Disappointment of Games – Britain’s swimmers have not collecting as many medals as they should have, coming up with a lot of fourth and fifth places instead.
Sportsbeat’s Sean-Paul Doran, a proud Irishman, certainly got caught up in the emotion of the Games while producing our web feed.
Moment of the Games -The first Super Saturday. Jess Ennis – her victory was expected but was highly impressive nonetheless. Her charm and all-around appeal make her my favourite GB athlete and I think she’s probably the most relatable athlete for most British women.
Greg Rutherford didn’t have the star appeal of the other two but the way he took the victory and his charm ever since have certainly brought him to the forefront of the public’s attention. Mo Farah. What can I say? The man is a legend, and not in the clichéd sporting way, but in every human way possible. Hasn’t got the arrogance and apparent star quality of Bolt/Blake etc. but that makes him all the most appealing. Special mention for Tom Daley. I couldn’t have been happier for him after what he’s been through.
Breakthrough of the Games -Either gymnastics or boxing. Both squads had potential but to deliver in the way they did was outstanding. There is huge potential for Rio, and I can see London 2012 leaving a real legacy for both sports.
And a special mention to Nicola Adams, a pioneer who will go down in history for all the right reasons. Clare Balding was also superb on BBC coverage
Disappointment of Games – Mark Cavendish for obvious reasons.
Team SB at London 2012: David Parsons, James Toney, Steve Bond, Ryan Bangs, Daniel Schofield, Gerard Meagher, Tom Reynolds, Charlie Talbot-Smith, Ben Baker, Paul Smith, Oliver Porritt, Tom Bell, Barrie White, Dean Wilkins, Andrew Greaves, Sean-Paul Doran, Ben Burrows, Phil Jones, Aimee Haworth and Stephen Watson.
And it wouldn’t have been possible without: David Jordan, Paul Eddison, Ric Sumner, Jamie Holt, Nick Atkin, Sam Wakefield, Jack Zorab, Matthew Stott, Adam Knight, Liam Twomey, Ryan Walters, Andrew Baber, Charlie Morgan, Nate Saunders and, of course, James Parsons and Richard Parsons.