The Good, the Bad and the Ugly — What I Remember of London 2012…

A spectacular show at a fraction of the cost of Beijing 2008! China is estimated to have spent more than US$50 billion on the Beijing Olympics. London 2012 is believed to have involved an expenditure of less than half of what China spent.

  • That perhaps is a demonstration of the “more-for-less” hypothesis that has been gaining ground amid the Eurozone debt crisis.

This is not just what London 2012 sports lovers the world over will remember it for. After all, there is more to the Olympics than just numerical scrutiny. It is a celebration of sport in all its glory that can give us all the ability to break free from the daily monotony and savour phenomenal accomplishments.

For the athletes themselves it can be a mix of tears and cheers. Tears of joy when years of hard work translate to Olympic successes! Tears of pain when a stroke of ill-luck negates their labour and keeps them off the victory podium!

Here is a snapshot of my memories of London 2012, the good, the bad and the ugly!

  • Michael Phelps’ medal haul to emerge as the most decorated Olympian ever (with 22 medals, 18 of which were Gold), followed by an immediate announcement of his retirement, though he is only 27
  • Usain Bolt’s sprint double (100 and 200 metres in both Beijing 2008 and London 2012), plus a 4×100 relay gold at the last two Olympics
  • A needless comment from Carl Lewis on Jamaica’s drug scrutiny standards that resulted in Bolt’s retort that he now has no respect for the American sprint legend
  • The infamous first-round exit of World and Euro football champions Spain without scoring a goal in three matches (losing two and drawing one)
  • India’s humiliation in hockey, with an inglorious all-loss record that landed them at the bottom of the table
  • The stunning, straight-set gold medal win of Andy Murray against world number 1 Roger Federer. He had beaten world number 2 Novak Djkovic in the semi finals.
  • The two bronze medals that Singapore won in table tennis
  • China’s continuing monopoly in badminton and table tennis

Match Fixing

The match-fixing fraud committed by some badminton players, including those from China, will also remain a scar on badminton and London 2012. Players threw away matches to ensure they face easier opponents in the knockout stages that led to their disqualification.

  • But some still escaped such a penalty. The Indian women’s doubles badminton team of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa believed that higher-ranked Mizuki Fujii/Reika Kakiiwa of Japan lost their match to a Taiwanese pair to get a favourable draw. The Indian pair was thus eliminated despite winning two of their three matches.

Team Selection

The Indian tennis team drew a blank after a big controversy generated by the doubles pair of Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna. They selected themselves for the team, with both not just refusing to pair with Leander Paes but also throwing mud at India’s top-ranked player.

The Bangalore Blackmailers had their way eventually with India’s selectors succumbing to their threat. But they got thrown out of the Olympics in the second round itself. Leander and the others also lost but they put up a better show than Bhupathi and Bopanna.

Leander and Vishnu Vardhan lost to the eventual silver medal winners, second-seeded Michael Lhodra and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, after a tough fight. Leander and Sania Mirza lost in the quarter final to the top-seeded pair of Victoria Azarenka and Max Mirnyi, who went on to win the Gold medal.

The Indian tennis fiasco is, nonetheless, something that will need to be acted upon after the failure of the players to make much headway at the Olympics.

The Indian hockey team selection should also be thoroughly probed after their disastrous performance that brought shame to the country, winners of eight Olympic gold medals in the sport.

I have not visited London since July 2010 when, while on a business visit to the beautiful city, I received the news of my father’s passing. Still, London remains on my mind as a beautiful city full of verve and though I caught glimpses of the Olympics only on television, the memories I gleaned from there will remain fresh for long.

G Joslin Vethakumar

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